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Be prepared and get organised

Preparing your resume

Your resume will be one of the most important documents in getting you an interview with an employer. Most applications for jobs require a resume at a minimum. A resume is a description of your education, paid employment, volunteer activities (including school activities), general interests and personal strengths. It should outline your technical, transferable and personal skills relevant to the position you are applying for.

Whilst it is fine to use a similar version of your resume for different jobs, you will need to make sure that each time you send a resume, it reflects the skills the employer is looking for. It is your personal advertising brochure and needs to be targeted to each position you apply for. It should to be written in a way that can be easily modified so you can update it for each job application.

There are many different styles of resume, however, there are some basic things that you definitely need to include and these are outlined below.

  • Profile – personal summary or statement about yourself
  • Personal details – name, address, phone number and email
  • Key skills – technical, transferable and personal skills list
  • Key achievements – list of achievements
  • Educational qualifications – list from secondary school to university
  • Employment history – list jobs with significant times and date ranges
  • Professional memberships/community involvements – activities you do outside of work such as hobbies
  • Referees – two people whom you have worked for previously who can provide a character reference on your behalf

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Profile

A profile is a summary of your experience, skills and abilities relevant to the position. It may or may not include a career objective and should be clearly outlined on the front page of your resume. This will encourage the employer to want to read the rest of your application and is an important part of your resume.

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Personal details

These details need to be provided somewhere in your resume. You can add them to the style or design of your resume by having the information in a header or footer for example. Make it easy to find, as it provides the basic information about who you are and how you can be contacted. Ensure your details are kept up to date and include the following as a minimum:

  • first and last name;
  • address;
  • telephone number/mobile number;
  • email address; and
  • optional: state of health, date of birth, licences held (eg fork lift as well as car or truck), citizenship.
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Key skills

This section should outline your specific abilities, skills and experience for the job you are applying for. Your technical, transferable and personal skills can be listed here. This tells the employer whether you have the skills for the job based on the information provided. You should list all of the skills that you have acquired from both paid and unpaid work. You can group skills together that relate to the job.

For example, for an Administrative position you may have the following headings:

  • Office administration skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Customer service skills
  • General skills
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Key achievements

This section is used to highlight anything you are proud to have achieved in your career. It may include personal achievements. Ideally list 5 to 10 dot points of key achievements that relate to your technical and transferable skills and are suited to the job you are applying for.

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Educational qualifications

List your most recent educational qualifications that are relevant to the position.
If you have just completed school, include your highest level of study achieved. Information you should try to include:

  • university degrees;
  • certificates;
  • short training courses attended;
  • workshops, seminars and conferences attended;
  • other professional training; and
  • licences and accreditations.
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Employment history

In this section explain your past and present work activities as your 'employment history'. If you have just completed school, it is worthwhile to include work experience if you do not have a history of paid employment. Each job listed should include:

  • job title;
  • company name and location;
  • dates of employment; and
  • brief overview of your duties
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Professional memberships/community involvements

If you have any professional memberships or community involvements relevant to the job you are applying for, you should list them under this heading. If you do include them you will need to list:

  • name of the organisation;
  • dates/duration of involvement; and
  • title/nature of your involvement.
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Referees

Referees are normally contacted to provide details on your experience in the time you were working with them and comment on your personal qualities to a potential employer.

You should obtain permission from your referees before including their details on your resume. Always keep them informed of any positions you have applied for too. It is common to include a minimum of two referees. This is the last piece of information to include on your resume.

Ensure you have the correct and up to date details on your resume, the information you should include is:

  • referees name;
  • job title;
  • employer; and
  • contact details, eg phone/mobile/email

If you are unable to locate your referees prior to submitting your application, you still must include this section on your resume. Simply state 'available upon request' and then if you are invited to an interview, ensure you can provide the referee details to hand to the potential employer in person.

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Optional things to include

Cover page
It is up to you how you style your resume; however, cover pages are generally not that important. They tend to be an additional page that adds bulk to your resume and the information contained in a cover page is usually provided elsewhere in your document.

Career objective
If you are prepared to update your career objective each time you apply for a job, then you can include this information. Always ensure your objective is relevant to the job you are applying for and is up to date with your career goals. You may also add this under your profile.

Activities and interests
You can add this information if you think the employer may see how your interests show that you have a personality suited to the type of work they are offering. For example, a mechanic may find it useful to state they are a member of an automotive club.

Photo
It is not recommended that you should add a photo to a resume, unless it is specifically requested by the employer and your appearance is important for the job, for example a model.

Personal attributes
These can be similar to or be included in your activities and interests if they are relevant to the position you are applying for. Not essential to be included in your resume though.

Refer to the example resumes and writing letters quick tips to help with a few other ideas when you are putting your resume together and applying for positions. Ensure you include all relevant information in a reader friendly and suitable font and format.

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