A Guide to Resumes and Cover Letters
Resumes need to be:
- Targeted to the position you are applying for
- Consistent in presentation
- Checked for spelling and grammar
- Font size no less than 11
- Printed on good quality paper (if sending)
- Proof-read thoroughly
- Bolded in appropriate places
While some headings are negotiable, the following usually forms the basis of a resume:
These include name, address (if you want to), email address, and contact phone numbers. There is no need to include information on martial status, number of children etc.
Professional Profile & Career Objective
How would you sum up your career to date in 1-2 sentences? Then, demonstrate how your skills match the position you are applying for. Make several clear, powerful but succinct statements which emphasise your competencies in relation to the position's criteria.
What are 5-6 skills that continually appear in your resume?
What are you particuarly good at? This can be summarised in no more than 5 bullet points.
Include all types of employment including non-paid work (volunteer work, charity work, school duties, family business etc.) while on parental leave. If your history is a long one you may wish to be selective about the positions for which you give more details. You should indicate the job title and employer, main responsibilities of the position (bullet points), and your achievements in the role.
Turn your unpaid work into 'work speak'. For example, raising money for a charity involves communication, business development, and marketing skills. Tuck shop work involves money-handling, customer service, and the ability to work in a team. Value your non-paid work.
You may wish to refer to your 'stay-at-home mum' period as 'Full time carer and household manager'.
Education and Training
Indicate your educational qualifications, giving details of dates and institutions. Employers do background checks now so ensure everything is accurate.
These include membership of professional associations and professional development events attended recently that are relevant to the role you are applying for.
You may wish to highlight your interests, memberships, nationality, and languages you speak for example.
If you are looking for a flexible role, be clear about your flexibility requirements, e.g. 'I am available to work on Monday, Tuesday and Friday' or 'I am able to work for up to 20 hours per week.'
Ideally, you will have 2-3 referees you can call upon if you are required for an interview.Ensure that you have consulted your referees first and that they have a copy of your application prior to them being contacted by the prospective employer.
Simply state in your resume 'Available upon request.'
If you have been out of the workforce for over 2 years, think about other potential referees you could add to your existing referees. For example, have you done any volunteering or charity work during this time? Have you been on a committee (for example, a school committee)? Have you been in casual employment?
Your friends and family should not be your referees. They are naturally biased and will not provide a fair assessment of your work performance or character.
View free resume and cover letter templates to freshen up your layout and approach.
Make sure that you address it to the right person. Ideally find out their name, rather than just 'Dear Sir/Madam'.
The letter should:
- be no more than 1 page in length
- be targeted to the position
- emphasize your experience, skills and interests which make you an ideal candidate for the position
- be written in a persuasive tone
The letter will contain 3 short paragraphs:
1. In the opening paragraph, indicate why you are writing and when and where you saw the position advertised.
2. In the body paragraph, emphasize the experience and skills you have that are relevant to the position. Indicate why you wish to work for the organisation; be enthusiastic and pursuasive.
3. In the final paragraph or conclusion, re-state your interest and indicate what you have included with the letter (e.g. resume). Indicate your desire to discuss your application at interview.
Sign and print your name under the signature.