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A résumé is more than a summary of your professional experience, it is a tool with which you market yourself and it can be the key to securing an interview. Key Resources offers some simple tips to ensure you maximise your chances of being noticed and securing that dream job.

Basic tips – dos and don’ts

  • Employers typically spend 15 seconds or less scanning résumés. These basic tips can help you stay ahead of other candidates.
  • Emphasize the value you would bring to the company; not the reason you want the job. Employers are looking for someone who will enhance the organisation, not their own résumé.
  • Keep it succinct with a job title or target, and brief description. 
  • Choose language that communicates that your strengths match the job. Use active words like ‘develop’ and ‘contribute,’ or include terms from the job advertisement to ensure that you address the employer’s needs.
  • Include any words that convey your ability to work with others, be proactive and get the job done regardless of circumstance. These include ‘teamwork’, ‘flexibility’, ‘detail-oriented’ and ‘self-motivated’.
  • Abbreviations and acronyms may confuse a potential employer who is unfamiliar with the terms. Personal pronouns are also unnecessary — don’t waste space with I, me or my.
  • Spelling and grammatical errors are unacceptable and do not demonstrate attention to detail.
  • Use bullet points. A CV should be a quick snapshot of your history of work and education. Keep it concise.
  • Use bold font to highlight key information
  • Avoid italics as it can be difficult to read
  • Put the most important information first. You’ll want to list your work and education experience in chronological order.
  • Use easy-to-read fonts
  • Use numbers to back up your achievements
  • No hobbies. The topic may come up in an interview, but don’t waste precious page space in your CV talking about your stamp collection.
  • No jargon or slang.

Making it look good

Recruiters can sift through many résumés at a time. Ensure yours will catch their eye for all the right reasons. Arrange your information so that it is practical and easy to read.
Arranging your information

The format you choose should be based on your work experience and the job you’re seeking.

By date
Chronological resumes are ideal for those with extensive experience in one field, who is searching for a job in that same field. This type of resume will include an objective (summary statement) about the job you are seeking and list your employment history, starting with the most recent position.

By relevance of information
A functional resume focuses on your abilities. This is ideal for people new to the workforce, such as college graduates and those changing careers. By directing a prospective employer’s attention to your relevant skills, you place the emphasis on your potential, rather than your experience.

Length of the résumé

Your résumé is not a life story it’s a marketing tools for the job you want. Include information that is key to the position you are applying for.

While there is no strict standard résumé length, you can base this decision on your experience and the job you want.

  • If you are transitioning between careers aim for a short, sharp one to two page résumé. 
  • If you have several years experience related to the job you are applying for or you work in a field requires technical skills, may require up to three pages.
  • Academics, executives or senior managers with a long list of accomplishments in their field may require a resume that is three pages or longer. An addendum can be used for additional documents.


While formatting is important for a successful resume, no amount of dressing will make a weak resume strong. List your skills and accomplishments first and tidy the document later. Where possible, use figures to quantify your achievements. If you managed a large budget or team, mention this. Numbers show employers exactly what you have done and what you are capable of achieving for them.

Contact information

Place your postal address, personal telephone number and email at the top of your résumé. Your current work telephone number and work email address are not appropriate.

Be honest

Grossly overstating your accomplishments can trip you up during an interview or eliminate your chances of securing an interview at all if they arouse suspicion. Even if your embellishments make it past a recruiter, you set yourself up for failure by misrepresenting your abilities.