Most graduate resumes can be structured and organised into the following sections:
Heading & contact details
Use your name as your heading on your resume. There's no need to include the words 'resume' or 'CV' – your name will suffice.
Next to your name, you should include essential contact details such as your:
- mobile phone number
- personal email address.
Avoid using casual or humorous email addresses, as this may give the employer the wrong impression. It’s best to have your first and last name as your email address – you can set one up for free via services such as Yahoo or Gmail.
If you haven’t already, take the time to record a professional-sounding voicemail message.
You may also wish to provide links to online profiles, such as:
- a personal website.
While it’s not necessary to add your residential address, you can specify your city and country (e.g. Melbourne, Australia).
Summary or objective
This is an optional addition to a resume that can be an effective way of capturing the hiring manager’s attention.
A summary is typically used by experienced candidates to tie together their professional experience, particularly if it has been a bit disjointed (e.g. working across industries or doing a mixture of full-time and freelance work).
As a fresh graduate student, you can use a well-worded summary on your resume to outline your career goals and the skills most useful to the company.
This added-extra can also be useful if you’re not submitting a cover letter along with your resume. Try to keep the summary concise and tailor it to the employer.
Alongside your qualification or degree, you can add relevant training or accreditations to this section of your resume.
You may want to include your school or ATAR results and any relevant awards if you’re a recent graduate and they’re reflective of your academic success.
Make sure you’re listing your educational qualifications in order of their relevance. Your most recent academic achievement (such as a degree) should be first.
Where possible, include:
- the institution where you studied
- your start and completion dates (or expected completion date).
You may also consider including academic awards or subjects you studied that are immediately relevant to the job.
If you’re well into your career, you don’t need to include all your work experience on a resume. Pick your most recent jobs, or any that are similar to the role you’re applying for.
On the other hand, a graduate employee may be limited in their work experience – if they have any at all.
Employers are aware of this and may look favourably on achievements outside of traditional work experience, such as:
- volunteer positions
- freelance assignments
- part-time or casual work (be discerning with what you list here, it doesn’t need to be every job you’ve had)
- memberships to organisations such as university clubs.
Be specific. Rather than including everything, focus on the experiences relevant to the job position.
Ensure you keep context front of mind when crafting this section of your graduate resume. You may need to include a short description of an organisation you gave your time to, if it’s not immediately obvious by name alone.
If you have the space, include an overview of your responsibilities. You can also outline what you achieved, or tasks and projects you contributed to while working in the role.
Consider fleshing out your resume with sections such as:
- awards and accomplishments
- skills and attributes
- relevant interests and extracurricular activities, including sport, music and other hobbies.
Try to list only the skills and interests on your resume that are professionally relevant or make you stand out from the crowd. For example, an interest in reading and writing would be an advantage if you’re applying for an editorial position; drawing and art if you’re seeking work as a designer.
What information should not be included on my resume?
Avoid the following:
- personal information such as your age, marital status or number of children/dependents
- demands of an employer, such as flexible working hours or rostered days off (RDOs) – these are better mentioned in your interview or during contract negotiations
- salary details – while it’s not necessary to include this information on your resume, you may be asked to provide your salary expectations in an application or during an interview
- fabricated information – be honest and make sure you can back up any claims made in a subsequent interview
- political or religious views, or your sexual orientation – while they may be important to you, it’s not essential information for a work place and can even lead to unconscious bias.
Should I include references in my CV?
No, references aren’t necessary on a resume. Most checks are done at the end of the recruitment process, after candidates have been interviewed.
Likewise, don’t bother including a line stating your ‘references are available on request’. It’s a given you’ll provide references if an employer asks for them, so this line will simply take up valuable space on your CV!
Should I include a photo on my CV?
In Australia, it is not considered necessary to include your image on your CV.
Under Australian law, it is forbidden for an employer to ask a candidate for information that can be used to discriminate against them. Revealing your age, race, religion, any disabilities or your marital status could lead to conscious or unconscious bias, which is why it’s best to omit personal information from your resume.
There are occasional exceptions to this rule, particularly for roles in the modelling or acting industry. But, in most cases, a picture will take up space you can use to sell yourself and prove your suitability for the job.
The requirement for an image can vary from country to country. Seek advice on what is considered best practice if you’re looking for employment opportunities overseas.
It is probable that a potential employer will look for you on LinkedIn or other professional social media. Consider the following, when choosing pictures for your accounts:
- choose a professional-looking photo, such as a front-facing headshot, against a plain background
- use a high-resolution image that isn’t blurry
- make sure the image is recent or, at the very least, not dated
- avoid the use of selfies or group shots taken in social situations
- use an image that gives an overall impression of your career experience
- avoid avatars, memes or cartoons.