There are many facts and fallacies about writing a creative CV or resume and depending where you look, you’ll get different advice. Within Australasia there is a distinct style of resume that will help you increase the chances of obtaining that all-important interview. We hope the information provided herewith will allow you to create a successful CV.
The facts are a resume is a direct reflection on you; so take the time to ensure you are absolutely happy with how your resume reflects both your work history and personal style. There are some basic rules to be followed, as we outline below, but there is also room for flexibility:
If you send a resume before seeing someone, its purpose is to act as a personal sales document—one that will get you to an interview.
A resume is not always the first step in the process to hiring someone—it may be your door opener but you may also use it as a follow-up tool after seeing someone.
People who receive resumes often use them for screening you ‘out’ rather than ‘in’. Be aware that the first person to look at your resume for a specific job is not likely to be the person who will do the interviewing; the person screening out inappropriate resumes may only have a list of criteria to match. Your resume will have to get beyond this point to ensure you are considered for an interview. Therefore it is a good practice to review your resume to the job requirements and make any changes that will reflect accurately what experience and/or skills you have that match this job. Recruitment agencies typically send a one-page summary with your resume, highlighting these matches for prospective employers.
When you get to the interview, your resume can act as the agenda for your discussion, giving the interviewer a springboard from which to launch the inquiry. Yes, it is acceptable to keep it in front of you but only refer to it as, and when, you need to.
Layout and design should be legible, consistent and easy to follow, with good clear headings, large easy-to-read typeface—such as Arial or Verdana or Times Roman—and no typographical or grammatical errors (use the spell checker!).
Use good quality, plain paper. (Coloured paper or a fancy border doesn’t add anything unless the position in question requires a demonstration of that sort of creativity—for example, the creative area of an advertising department.)
Do not send poor quality photocopies, only original documents will be acceptable. (Do not post certificates etc, these can be presented at Interview).
Orientate your resume towards specific (and quantifiable) achievements rather than duties and responsibilities. It should tell prospective employers everything that might interest them and nothing that will waste their time.
Keep it honest. Don’t exaggerate your experience to make it sound more impressive. If it can’t stand up to scrutiny in the interview or reference checking, you will blow your chances of getting the job.
Write in clear, concise terms, using active words (e.g. accomplished, created, enhanced, launched, negotiated, etc) and keeping pronouns (I, we, they) to a minimum or avoid them altogether. If you don’t feel comfortable with this, write a bald statement such as: ‘Achieved sales objectives of 250 units per month’.
Keep it succinct. Highlight particular personal achievements. For example: ‘During my period as Manager, turnover increased 120 per cent’. If your professional experience is limited, it might be wise to include memberships of clubs or organisations that show commitment to being involved.
Do not write a novel. We suggest you keep it to five, six pages or less. It should concisely paint a picture of you and your job history. Key points should be highlighted to develop interest and excitement about you as a potential candidate. Include the kind of information you would like to know if you were hiring someone. The reviewer must be drawn to wanting to meet you in person.
Leave out all details of past salaries, bonus payments, Superannuation contributions. This will be covered in the interview stages. Without knowing all the details of the company and the job, you might inadvertently send a message that you are too cheap or too expensive.
Put your work history and educational details in reverse chronological order, that is, starting with the most recent. It’s easier to follow.
Don’t use a narrative style. Highlight your accomplishments in a bullet point format, then you don’t need as many complete sentences—that’s how you get it into less than six pages! But be warned: brief points must be carefully thought out. At the interview stage, your statements must be backed up by evidence—based on your track record or training.
Be specific in your resume. Use numbers or percentages to illustrate your successes or the impact you can have. Avoid claiming complete responsibility for achievements; implying no one else deserves any credit, which is usually not the case.
Avoid initials and jargon. Write in plain English so you’re understood. There’s a general consensus by good interviewers that people who really know their subject, write and speak clearly and don’t try to complicate issues.
Best of Luck, remember your resume should also be an organic document. It will grow as you do and you should always trim back the items that are no longer relevant to where you are heading.