How To Write the Perfect Resume & Cover Letter – Abel Prasad

If you’re a young Australian, then you are probably aware that landing an interview (let alone a job) is no easy feat. In 2018, with around 12.6% youth unemployment, even receiving a rejection email can be surprising; we’re sure many of our readers have become accustomed to applying for roles and never hearing back at all. We know that in the long-run something needs to be done to increase youth employment, however, right now you are probably focused on just getting your foot in the door (not dedicating an afternoon to protest at parliament house). Well, the first step to getting that all-important interview is to nail your resume and potentially a cover letter too. We are here to help with some clear and specific tips!

Writing Your Resume

1. Your Resume should be no longer than two pages (no excuses!)
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s for good reason. The odds of a hiring manager reading every multi-page resume in detail are low, so even if your third page has great content, it probably won’t be read. A one-page resume is ideal. Tricks to keep your resume short and sweet include avoiding long lists of references (it’s completely acceptable to note that your references are available on request), or when explaining past job experience only outline a few of your key duties. If you’re well out of school, you do not need to outline your school subjects! It takes up unnecessary space, and the truth is that nobody cares that you took Ancient History in Year 12 (sorry not sorry).

2. Read the role requirements (and address the skills they’re looking for)!

If you find a job you’re interested in, avoid submitting your stock-standard resume. Say you’re applying for a role as a sales manager, and you have prior experience in both sales jobs and as a musician, make sure you dedicate your words to emphasising the relevant point… your sales experience! Avoid using precious resume space on skills that the hiring manager may be disinterested in. Recently we’ve been hiring at Ladies of Australia, and we received a resume from a woman who had extensive experience in acting in television shows and on stage. The only problem? We were hiring a marketing assistant! The applicant only briefly mentioned her marketing experience, and if we’re being honest we didn’t really care how amazing she is at acting because that’s not what we were hiring for!
3. Use a Neat, Simple Format
This one is an important one. By all means, if you have design skills you may want to spruce up the look of your resume a little, but avoid making your resume look too overwhelming. When a recruiter has hundreds of applications to make their way through in a limited amount of time, they want to be able to find information quickly and easily. If you’re unsure of how to structure your page there are plenty of resume formats that you can find online, and remember to keep your font simple too.

Crafting Your Cover Letter
1. If a cover letter is optional, write one
Just because a job application doesn’t require a cover letter, doesn’t mean the business doesn’t want to see one! Going to the effort of writing a cover letter shows that you are really interested in the role and are willing to put in the effort to succeed- this is exactly the type of person a recruiter is looking for.
2. Address the hiring manager
If the job advertisement offers a name, use it! A simple “Dear Mary” or “Dear Ms Randall” is perfect. If no name appears in the advertisement and you’re not sure of who to address the cover letter to, “Dear Hiring Manager” is an acceptable alternative.
3. Don’t just repeat your resume
See your cover letter an opportunity to sell yourself, not just more work! Pick a few points that you may have mentioned in your resume to briefly expand upon, and specifically address the job criteria mentioned in the advertisement and how you meet those requirements. Your cover letter should be succinct (one page is ideal) and should give the recruiter greater insight into your passion and the areas you excel in.
4. Spelling and Grammar 
This seems obvious, but after years of working in recruitment, we know that this remains the most common problem when it comes to job applications. When we advertised a role recently, approximately 50% of applicants’ resumes had at least one spelling or grammar error. Good communication is a skill that recruiters are looking for in nearly all fields, so even a single spelling mistake can cause your resume to be cast aside. It’s only human to occasionally overlook a mistake in your grammar, but don’t let your resume be that occasion! Have a friend double check your resume before you submit it.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to be tenacious and persistent in applying for jobs; the odds are that even with the perfect resume you will still be rejected sometimes. Good luck, and when you have landed that interview head back to Ladies of Australia and look out for our upcoming blog on how to perfect your job interview technique!

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