Resume structure

Headings can be effective to organise and highlight information. Your choice of heading should be guided by the alignment between 'what you bring' to 'what the employer is looking for'. Examples include:Common elements of resumes

  • Name and contact details
  • Career Objective
  • Qualifications
  • Skills summary
  • Professional experience
  • Achievements
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Interests/hobbies
  • Referees

Career objective

Your profile or career objective is meant to provide the employer with a very brief overview of what you bring to the role and where you would like to go. It can also be viewed as your 'elevator pitch' for your five-year plan.


Your qualifications provide the employer with information about your level of education, which implies something about your cognitive capacity and may provide the employer with a sense of what you're capable of. It also tells an employer about the content you've studied. For specialist roles, such as research or accounting, the content you have studied is very relevant; for generalist roles, content is arguably not very important.

Practical considerations when describing qualifications:

  • Present your qualifications in reverse chronological order
  • State the start and end dates (months & years) of your qualifications. If you haven't graduated yet, you can include: "expected completion mm/yyyy"
  • State the name of the qualification and the institution at which you obtained it.
  • Include your majors
  • You can choose to report your average mark. As a self-marketing tool, you will certainly want to report your average mark if it is high.
  • You can include college-level qualifications, reporting your university entry score, though you probably don't need to provide details on your high school certificate

Skills summary

The skills summary forms an opportunity to showcase examples of relevant skills. Employers want to attract employees with work experience so that they can be confident that those employees will be able to perform to standard. You may simply not have much work experience, particularly if you're in the early stages of your career. A skills summary can convince an employer that you can function effectively in the position despite a relative lack of work experience. It allows you to highlight a number of transferable skills needed for the job you're applying for that you have developed in a broad range of areas, including work, studies, volunteering and other extracurricular activities.

The skills you present in your skills summary are said to be 'transferable' skills, i.e. they can be 'transferred' from the experiences in which you developed them to a new situation (the position you're applying for). For example, you will have developed teamwork skills in tutorials at uni; these teamwork skills are required in any workplace.

Practical considerations when describing your skills:

  • Provide an explicit example (or two) for each skill you wish to emphasise: employers need to see evidence for your claim that you possess a certain skill.
  • Be specific in your example: employers can assess your suitability better if you state 'how much' and 'how many' (e.g. 2 oral presentations or 100?)

Professional experience

Tailor your experience to what the employer seeks. Therefore, it is your job to provide the most relevant information; potentially even leaving information out of your resume! Consider closely your experience, however because whilst some may not seem relevant whilst they are.

Practical considerations when describing your professional experience:

  • Present information in reverse chronological order (add months and years), state your position title and the organisation you worked for
  • Describe some of your most relevant duties - what is the employer interested in?
  • Consider summarising similar positions you've held to avoid repetition

Dividing information into a skills summary and work experience, where you emphasise 'how you did the job' (skills summary) and 'what you did' (work experience) may make it easier for an employer to find the information they're looking for.


These may come from a variety of sources. You may have won a scholarship based on academic merit. You may have won an award for community work, or a prize for a sporting achievement. Ask yourself how your achievement(s) contribute to presenting yourself to an employer.

Extracurricular activities

You develop skills in all kinds of experiences. Consider including experiences beyond paid work, such as volunteering and active involvement in student societies. Like in the paid employment section, elaborate a little with stating some key responsibilities (tailored to the position you're applying for).


Similarly, interests or hobbies can provide you with skill development that aligns to what the organisation in looking for. They may also tell the employer about whether you 'fit' into the organisation.


In Australia, employers prefer to speak to people who know you in a professional capacity. Include a current or previous supervisor from a paid position, if you have one. Alternatively, a lecturer, who knows you, may also be a good referee because they can speak about several aspects of your academic and professional behaviour at university. Personal referees are sometimes also used, though you need to make sure that these personal referees are not a friend or relative: they're likely to always speak very positively about you. A good example is the imam of your mosque.

Stating "references available upon request" is also acceptable.