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Resume tips

Student Assist can provide you with one-on-one assistance in writing your resume, covering letters and job applications. We can give you advice, ideas and tips on how to write that perfect resume to get the job you want. We will help you identify your strengths and work out what it is you really want for yourself in your professional life.

More often than not a job application would consist of:

  • Cover letter

  • Resume

  • Selection Criteria

Below are some tips on how to compile each component of a job application. Once you have any one of these ready, Student Assist is happy to review it before submission.

Cover letter

A cover letter is a short, tailored letter that should always accompany any resume that you send to a prospective employer. Whether you are applying for a specific advertised job or are marketing yourself for future possible work, your cover letter aims to introduce yourself and highlight your key selling points through summarizing your skills, experience and achievements. Your cover letter should leave a good first impression of you on the reader, enticing him/her to discover more about you, ultimately leading to an interview!

Even if you do not have a solid history of paid work, you can still use your cover letter to highlight the skills, abilities and experience you have gained through university, training, work experience programs and voluntary positions. It’s about being clever with words (whilst remaining genuine and honest) and tailoring your letter to reflect the key skills and requirements of the job. As ultimately it is a summary of your resume, it should introduce it, and closely tie in with it.

Below are a few useful tips to consider when writing your cover letter:

  • Make it as personable as possible - spend some time researching or phoning the company, find out who will be reading your application, and address it specifically to that person

  • Letters should be typed, not hand written (unless the advertisement says otherwise)

  • Letters should never be longer than one A4 page - being succinct is the key

  • Each cover letter you send must be an original. Never send a photocopied form of the letter

  • Keep the focus on what you can do for the employer, not ‘how wonderful I am’

  • Use standard business format for your letters unless you are applying for a job in a field where this is not the norm

  • Be specific with your descriptions, don’t forget to include your contact details

  • Make sure you proofread and do a spell check

Writing a great cover letter can be a tedious process, and because there is no right or wrong it can be difficult to know if you have ‘nailed’ it. Think of it as a good opportunity to share with an employer a snapshot of your strengths and qualities. Inject each cover letter with your own distinct style to create a positive and lasting impression of you.

Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A resume, sometimes called a Curriculum Vitae or CV, is an outline of your professional, educational and personal background, which defines you as a unique individual. The purpose of a resume is to get you a job interview, and lead you on the path to obtaining a job! People seeking advice on writing resumes often ask the same question: “how do I design the perfect resume guaranteed to please all employers?” Unfortunately there is no “perfect” resume. There are, however, some general points to remember. A good resume should:

  • Be letter perfect

  • Sell you, your capabilities and achievements

  • Be fairly brief (2 to 3 pages)

  • Be well organized, and easy to read and understand

  • Give the reader an idea of who you are, and demonstrate the benefit of hiring you

  • Be informative but not chatty

  • Be targeted to the job you are applying for

  • Get you an interview!

Important points to avoid
  • Poor visual presentation – typing errors, spelling errors or handwritten

  • Contain untrue information – the truth will most likely come out in the interview or during a reference check, and an employer has grounds to dismiss you if you win a job based on false information

  • Use colloquialisms or acronyms known only to the writer and his/her world

  • Missing vital information – name, address, telephone, previous experience

  • Too long and unwieldy, or too short with little information

  • Written in the first person, or written entirely in prose

  • Obvious photocopy. Where possible, you should always deliver an original

Your resume should have these key sections:
  • Heading and personal details
  • Career objective

  • Education and qualifications

  • Work experience and employment history

  • Skills and abilities

  • Other qualifications E.g First Aid

  • Professional memberships

  • Special awards and achievements

  • Interest

  • Referees

Email your resume to Student Assist for a review. If you have the job advert, send that along too! This way we can ensure your resume addresses the requirements for the job.

Selection Criteria

The basic guidelines for addressing selection criteria are as follows:

  • Identify each criteria
  • Write each criteria on a separate page and break it up into distinct, workable parts. For example, if one of the criteria statements reads “must have strong written and oral communication skills, the ability to work well in a team as well as high level negotiation and liaison skills”, you need to divide the statement up as follows:
  • Strong written and oral communication skills;
  • The ability to work well in a team;
  • High level negotiation skills; and
  • High level liaison skills.

Brainstorm your examples
You must address each of these parts, giving fairly equal attention to each. For each part, brainstorm as many examples as possible of your background in this area. Don’t be too selective at this stage about what to include.

Revise and refine
Select the examples that you think best address each one. Make sure that you use a variety of experiences throughout your statement.
Be careful not to use your involvement in a particular activity (no matter how significant) as evidence for every criteria.
Writing Up the Selection Criteria
When addressing selection criteria, it is useful to apply the STAR model. Placing examples of how you have demonstrated your skills into the STAR model is critical for developing an effective statement.
The STAR acronym stands for:
S ituation (briefly describe the context)
T ask (what were your responsibilities or initiatives?)
A ction (what did you do?)
R esult (what were the outcomes?)
For each criteria:

  • Write the name of each criteria; start with a positive claim; give a specific example;

  • Describe how you acted; and describe the result.

  • Other tips to keep in mind when addressing selection criteria

  • Dot point form and/or concise sentences make your application easier to read.

  • Use examples to back up every statement you make (use visual examples).

  • Don’t just feed their words back to them – make every sentence count by focusing on what you have to offer.

  • Each criteria approximately ⅓ –½a page.

  • When each criteria is given a weighting of importance you should dedicate a proportionate amount of detail to each part.

  • When a statement asks for qualifications or some other information that is finite, the length can be shorter.

  • Editing checklist

Before submitting your application you should check your selection criteria against the following checklist:

  • professional, active and fits the role

  • logical and consistent

  • checked for errors and edited for order and focus

  • check tense

  • reduce complex sentences

  • check over-writing

  • avoid abbreviations

  • avoid weakening qualifiers

  • most important information first

Given that selection criteria forms the basis for employers when designing their interview questions; preparation for the next stage of the job search process, that is the interview, is much more straight forward when you know exactly what the employer is looking for.

At interviews candidates are usually asked questions that are directly related to the selection criteria. This allows you to prepare responses that are an extension of what you have written in your Statement Addressing Selection Criteria.