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Your resume and cover letter may be the first opportunity you have to impress a potential employer. A bad resume is one of the top reasons an employer will reject your application. There are a few simple ways you can tailor your resume and cover letter to impress employers.

Resume

A resume summarises your education, skills, work experience, volunteer activities (including school) and achievements for a prospective employer.

It is usually required as part of a job application and is considered essential information to help an employer assess whether an applicant would be a suitable candidate to interview.

Keep your resume short and concise, no more than two pages, and if a cover letter is not required use a career objective detailing why you want the job. It is important to the employer to know that you are interested.

What to include and avoid in your resume

When writing your resume there are a few simple rules:

  • Customise your resume to the job you are applying for
  • Keep the formatting consistent – make sure the text is all the same font and that it is easy to read
  • Your personal details should include your name, phone number and email address. You don't need to include your age, a photo, or other personal details
  • Follow all employer’s submission requirements.

Things to avoid in your resume:

  • Lots of details about employment and education history that have nothing to do with the role you are applying for
  • Incorrect information - employers often will check the information in your resume, so don't include anything that isn't true
  • Mistakes - check for spelling errors, typos, and other mistakes. Use a spell check and ask someone to proof read it for you.
The Application and Interview

The Application and Interview

Your cover letter and resume are key components of a job application process, and might get you an interview with the employer. This page has useful information about what to do when applying for a job, and how to do well in an interview.

Application and Interview

Cover Letter

A cover letter is a brief letter that could be part of a job application if requested by the employer, or that you could include with your resume when contacting employers. It explains why you are applying for the job, highlights the key points from your resume by giving examples, and demonstrates that you have read the job advertisement or have an understanding of the role you would like to be considered for.

A cover letter should be no more than a page, and shouldn't include information that isn't supported by your resume. Do not introduce anything new, as that might confuse the employer.

Do not send the same cover letter to every application. Make every cover letter specific to the job you are applying for. If you are responding to a job ad, you should address the selection criteria or requirements in your cover letter.

Is a cover letter needed?

Your cover letter is designed to grab the interest of the reader and encourage them to find out more. If you are contacting an employer directly you can send them a cover letter with your resume, unless they ask you not to. If responding to a job ad, you should include a cover letter if it is asked for or not mentioned, but do not include one if the ad specifically says not to.

Can I use a cover email instead?

If you are emailing your resume to an employer, you will need to include some text in the email. You can either use this as your cover letter, or write a short and polite email stating that your cover letter and resume are attached.

If the employer specifically asks for a cover letter in a particular format, you should always do what is asked.

Additional Resources