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Writing an English resume

write-English-resume-cvYour resume is one of the most documents you will need when you migrate to Australia. Without established connections in the Australian business world, your experience and education will be your main ticket to employment. Follow the structure below to make your document a winner!



 if you prefer!


Is it a resume or CV?

Résumé is a French word that means summary. Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a Latin expression that means ‘course of life’. 

In Australia, resume (English spelling) is the more common title for the document.

Special note:  if you are looking for an academic or scientific/research job, use CV and include much more detail about your education and your academic publications.

Before you start writing

Know the facts…

To know your direction,  you must understand the industry you are applying to work in. There might be important differences between that sector in Australia, and the one in your country.  What skills are Australian companies in need of? Where are the jobs? What are the salary expectations?


Tell the truth!

It is estimated that 40% of job seekers lie about employment history, 20-30% about education, and 25-30% provide fake references. Most companies will attempt to verify the details in your resume, and recruiting agencies definitely will. We will explain ways to make your resume more powerful with the truth in the content below.


DO NOT ADD this information to an Australian resume

Do-not-includeIn order to make employment fair in a multicultural culture, there are certain things Australians do not include in a resume. This information indicates to a potenial employer that the job-seeker most likely has not worked in an English-speaking country before. 

Your age

Older and younger workers ca be discriminated again in the hiring process. If you are young, you may not have enough experience, while older workers may be considered ‘not on the trends’.  For this reason, we do not include age or birth date in a resume.

Your religion

A person’s religion has nothing to do with job performance, so never include this information.

Your marriage status / number of children

Again, this is not a factor in work skills. However, for some employers, family status may be a quiet consideration. For example, an employer may be hesitant to hire a female with young children who may be sick at home quite often, so keep any reason for concern out of your resume!

Your photograph

Do not attach a photo to a resume for English-speaking countries. Employers find it strange to see a photograph attached.

Summary of Qualifications

summary-qualificationsThe first section of your resume is the Summary of Qualification, or Qualifications Summary. It is a very important part of your resume, and contains 4 or 5 statements expressing the reasons you should be picked for the job. It is the first, and often only thing the reader looks at, so make it powerful! 

Express why you are the perfect candidate.  Highlight you experience and most suitable skills. Outline your career goal(s) and work ethic. Paint a clear picture of who you are and how you can fit into the company.


Writing tip: Do not use he/she when writing your resume, as it makes the tone impersonal and distant. Always you ‘I’ or just the verb.

Here is a sample:



Writing tip:
Most hiring managers are busy and have many resumes to read. Keep your resume short and clear so the reader keeps going!


degree-diplomaEducation is highly valued in Australia, but is more important in some industries than in others. If you are applying for a skilled role – nursing, engineering, accounting, etc – put your education before your experience. If you do not have a strong educational background, put this section after your work experience.

Include the school you attended, your graduation date, and the qualification you received. (degree, certificate, or diploma). Put your most recently received qualification first.

Australians never include primary school, and usually do not add high school. If you decide to include your high school, do not include your marks/scores.

If you are a recent graduate with no work experience, build the resume around your studies, and include any study or work related projects you have completed or are doing now – volunteering, tutoring, apprenticeships, etc.

If you studied part of a degree or other qualification but never completed it, or are still studying in a program, list the course(s). The knowledge counts!

Also include any short courses/seminars you have completed – presenting skills, business writing, etc.

Writing tip: Highlight important information in bold to make it easier to read.

Here is a sample:




Work Experience

work-experienceThis section tells the reader what you can do for the company.  Be thorough and concise in your explanation to keep the reader interested. Include all related experience that will enhance the role you want.

Do not include jobs over 10 years old, unless they are really important to the job you are now applying for. If you would like to, you can add a section called Other professional experience or finish your resume with Full resume upon request.

Start with your most current work experience first. Include the job title, your employer, the dates of employment, describe your duties, and add your achievements.

If your work experience is from overseas, it is a good idea to add a short description of the company your worked for if it is unlikely to be known in Australia.  A multinational company like Samsung or Canon does not require further information.

Do not include every responsibility you had – just the important ones. For example: Updated customer contact files each day’ is not a responsibility, but ‘Managed the daily updating of customer contact files by members of my team.’ is.

It is a good idea to include 2-3 achievements which you have not added to your job duties. Things accomplished that were beyond you day-to-day responsibilities such as awards, committee leadership, job promotions, or thought leadership initiatives.

Concern: I have little or no experience

While graduates generally struggle with their lack of experience, managers value the modern and innovative ideas young people to a company. Being up-to-date on trends and technology makes an employee very valuable to an organization. Find unique ways to express what you can bring to the company, and then prove how. Highlight your skills and good attitude, and include points like quick learner, willing to relocate, well organized, etc.  List anything that can be seen to be experience – volunteer work, military training, blog writing, etc.

Concern: My experience has gaps in time

While it is normal to have a break between jobs, it is important not to have long periods of time with no work.  If you have gaps, find things to fill them with like charity work or education, or make sure to explain what caused them – illness, having children, etc.


Writing tip: Use the past simple when talking about past actions in jobs. If you are still employed in the role, use the present tense.


Here is a sample:



Writing tip:
It is important to use action verbs to make the reader pay attention. These include created, demonstrated, achieved, implemented, developed, etc. Use the action verbs list as a creative guide while you are writing your resume.



Formatting your resume


This is where you tell the employer your contact information. It appears in the middle and top of each page.

Make sure you use an e-mail address that is professional sounding. You might want to create a new one just for your job search.

Include a minimum of one phone number so you can be easily contacted for an interview. Also make sure your voice message sounds professional and polite. It is one of the first impressions the hiring manager experiences.

Here is a sample header:




Writing tip: If you do not feel 100% comfortable writing in Engish, we suggest you hire a professional translator to edit your final text. This investment could get you a great job!

Page layout

Keep it simple – fonts like 10-11 point Times New Roman or Arial are easy to read. Include page numbers.

How long should it be?

Formatting-resumeIf you are a new graduate or have not worked for a long time, 1-2 pages is acceptable. For everyone else, 2-5 pages is normal.

However, many employers prefer ‘short and sweet’ resumes. Your resume shows how your career has developed and lists your achievements, but try your best to make it to-the-point and interesting.

Writing tip: Use the correct paper size format for Australia: A4.


Sending your resume

The paper you use is all part of your presentation.

If you are mailing your resume, use good-quality paper which is off-white or a pale color. Textured paper is a nice touch.

If you are e-mailing your resume, send it in Word or PDF format.