Effective writing styles

When writing your resume for a particular position, try to keep the perspective of the recruiter in mind: they usually don't have a lot of time, so you'll want to put some thought into the structure and content of the documents you put together. There is no 'golden standard' of structure and content, however, so you have the freedom to present yourself in the best possible light.

Remain positive and enthusiastic but don't overuse glowing adjectives (e.g. using "excellent..." too much can put employers off). You want to make a confident impression: find the balance between sounding over-confident (even arrogant) and under-selling yourself.

Create a professional resume with your 'personal voice'. Experienced Human Resources professionals, who are likely to receive your application, can usually tell when you've based your application on a template.

A few additional things to think of when you create your cover letter:

  • Don't include your date of birth, marital status or a photo of yourself
  • 'Less is more': don't use embellishments in the hopes your resume stands out, e.g. borders or shading - the content of your application is what counts
  • 'Less is more': if you can say the same thing with fewer words, do so
  • Use bullets points, capitals, bold & italic (sparingly) to emphasise content. You do not have to use full sentences throughout
  • Be consistent in your formatting ; use plain, 11 or 12pt. font
  • Balance white space with text to avoid clutter
  • Organise your resume to ensure important information appears on the first page
  • Use action verbs (e.g. directed, organised, etc.) and short sentences
  • Don't use too much jargon - unless you are applying for a highly technical role, use common terminology. Human Resources professionals who may not understand highly technical jargon are often the first to receive your application
  • Highlight recent relevant experience (last 5 years)
  • An Australian resume should be 2 to 3 A4 pages max. (though if you're writing an academic resume, it can be longer due to your publications list, conferences attended, etc.). Check with the employer if you're unsure.
  • Avoid over-use of 'I','me','my' and unnecessary personal information
  • Importantly, proofread and proofread again: make sure there are no grammatical or stylistic errors.

Proactive language

Using proactive keywords can help you effectively communicate those of your personal characteristics that an employer seeks. Find keywords in the position description. Describe relevant information from the last five years or so. Action verbs make an impact. Consider the following list:

Accelerated

Collaborated

Edited

Identified

Researched

Allocated

Concluded

Encouraged

Organised

Reviewed

Advised

Co-operated

Initiated

Persuaded

Revived

Attained

Expedited

Influenced

Performed

Strengthened

Delegated

Facilitated

Interpreted

Produced

Balanced

Devised

Fashioned

Launched

Sustained

Budgeted

Directed

Finalised

Recorded

Upgraded

Built

Displayed

Moderated

Reported

Validated

Coordinated

Generated

Motivated

Represented

Wrote

Negotiated

Implemented

Estimated

Developed

Assessed

Submitted

Recommended

Marketed

 

 

Resume employer dislikes

Though each individual employer will have their unique likes and dislikes regarding formatting, style and content, research has shown that there are particular things they do not like:

  • Resumes in binders
  • Poorly researched and untailored resumes
  • Poorly written resumes
  • Achievement certificates from high school
  • Overuse of glowing adjectives
  • Standard resumes templates
  • Students who send another company's resumes