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Writing Resumes and Job Applications

Writing Resumes and Job ApplicationsWriting resumes and Job Applications

Writing resumes and job applications can be a daunting task.  Here are a few key steps from the team at New Start Careers to help you on your way to success: A practical guide to Writing Resumes and Job Applications.


  • Know the job
    –  Understand the position as it relates to you as a jobseeker and the business as an employer.
  • Highlight Key Points
    –      Selection criteria, desirable attributes, due dates
  • Research the company
    –      Quick google search, browse website
  • Follow instructions
    –      Deadline, how to apply, format, page length

Applicant Tracking Systems

  • Did you know your first barrier to entry may not be a recruiter?
  • Many large companies and recruitment companies now utilise Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to provide an initial screen of candidates
  • What does this mean for you?

Check..Check..Check Again..

With the introduction of ATS, it has never been more important to ensure your resume is free of ANY errors and is well laid out in an easy to read format.

  • Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation
  • Format, Structure, Presentation

Achievement Based Resumes

  • Briefly outlines duties and responsibilities
  • Emphasis on achievements in roles
    –      Increased territory sales by 22% in first year
    –      Increased morale as evidenced by staff satisfaction surveys
    –      Employee of the year

What first?

  • Contact Details
    –      Name (First/Last)
    –      Phone Number
    –      Email address

Application dependent:

  • Social Profiles
  • Physical Address

Do I need a mission statement?

  • No!  But….
  • You may want to include one if the job vacancy asks for a resume only, with no accompanying cover letter.
  • If including in your resume, make sure it is short and clearly outlines your goal in a context that is relevant to the position you are applying for.


  • List your education in order of relevance to the job vacancy.
  • Alternatively highest attained qualification.

ie.  A Certificate IV above a Certificate II where both are in hospitality.

Qualification, school or college, year graduated.

Work Experience

  • Chronological Order
    –      Newest First
    –      Company name/location
    –      Position held
    –      Start and end dates
    –      Brief description of responsibilities
    –      Achievements – your opportunity to demonstrate that not only can you do the job, but you can excel at it.
  • Spend more time on current roles
  • Focus your attention on the past 10 years
  • If a role from your past will strengthen your application, make reference to it, but be sure to identify how it is still relevant today.


  • Is the referee Relevant?
  • Confirm acceptance of referee
  • Discuss the role you are applying with them
  • Ensure contact details are correct

References – If you have a glowing written reference from someone, they should be your referee.

Style and Layout

  • Font Type
    –      Veranda, Arial, Times New Roman.
    These are the easiest fonts to read on screens and in print format.
  • Font Size
    –      Font dependant, but typically no less than 10, no more than 11.

Tables Vs Bullets

  • Do not use tables…ever.
    –      Some ATS software is unable to extract text from tables and could exclude you on a technicality.
  • Bulleted lists are easy to read
  • Need to be clear and concise
  • Can be read by ATS software


  • Draw attention to critical information
  • Make the life of a recruiter easier
  • Use traditional headings
    –      Contact Details, Education, Work Experience etc
  • Customise to the job advertisement
    –      Key Selection Criteria vs Core Capabilities

Headers and Footers

  • Recommended for print based applications only.
    –      Name and Contact Number in header
    –      Footers (add little if any value)
  • Do not include anything in  a header that is not already in your resume
    –      Won’t be seen by ATS

Don’t be lazy…

Your resume is the rigid business end of an application.  The elements don’t tend to be variable; work experience, education etc are added to, but don’t change.

However you should adapt your context and use of KEYWORDS to suit the job advertisement.

ie.  If a job vacancy is for a taxi driver,  do not use cab driver.

Again, the ATS won’t see you if you’re lazy!

Cover Letters

A cover letter is NOT an extended/wordy version of your resume

  • It should Introduce you
  • Include contact details
  • Express your desire for the job
  • Outline why you are the best candidate (key words)
  • Provide 1 or 2 examples of relevant achievement
  • Professionally close

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Have I been asked to provide a cover letter
  • Have I been told NOT to provide a cover letter
  • Does the ad ask me to address selection criteria in a cover letter
  • Does the ad specify a maximum length (2 pgs)

What am I trying to achieve?

  • I want my cover letter to reinforce my skills and experience
  • I want it to encourage the recruiter to take a closer look at my resume
  • I want to demonstrate I understand the position
  • I want to establish a personal connection
    –      (Dear Sir Vs Dear Michael)

Style and Layout

  • Professional letter
  • Consistent font type and size
  • Mirrors resume

Selection Criteria

  • Where a job advertisement requests responses to key selection criteria, ensure you present the responses in logical order, using headings where possible.
  • Ensure use of key words
  • Importantly, read the question numerous times.  Check to see you have actually answered what they are asking.

Check..Check..Check Again..

  • Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation
  • Format, Structure, Presentation

Social Media

  • Own your brand
  • Establish Professional Profiles on Linkedin
  • You are visible to recruiters
  • Prepare your privacy settings for the job hunt


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