Resume Writing Tips

Aaargh! You’ve been putting it off for weeks. Writing that pesky first resume. Don’t despair! Follow our top ten tips below and you’ll be one step closer to securing your dream job.

  1. Keep It Simple

So, you might want to experiment with font and colour. Great if you are a wannabee graphic designer. If not, stick to a readable font, like Arial, Times New Roman or Calibri, throughout. You can still play around with bold and italics to highlight important features.

If your resume runs to more than one page, consider including a header or footer with your name and contact details. Sometimes, recruiters print out resumes and this ensures none of your info goes astray.

  1. Contact Details

Casual voice mail messages, such as “Hey, dude. Surf’s up…etc.” (Yup, we’ve heard them all before) are a big no-no. Record something short and polite. You’re looking for work, not catching your next set. Equally, blasting your caller with on-hold music is not cool.

Check your email message is professional and appropriate. How about keeping shazzarocks@hotmail.com for your personal contacts, and using sharon.rock@hotmail.com in your job search instead?

  1. Education

List your high school name, location, and dates of attendance.

If applicable, also list your university/college name, location, course title, dates of attendance, and qualification level achieved.

Impressive final grades? Make sure you include them too.

  1. School/College/University Achievements

Think about what you achieved at school, college and/or uni. Did you hold a position of special responsibility, e.g. class captain? Did you receive any awards? Were you a member of any school teams, music groups, or associations?

This section shows that you did more than just turn up for class and sit the end-of-year exams.

  1. Personal Attributes

Tell the recruiter what qualities you offer them as an individual. Ask others, such as teachers, university professors, and close family friends, how they would describe you. Or check out your past school reports. Focus on positive descriptions, e.g. motivated, keen to learn, reliable, honest, good team player, and strong communicator. And don’t list too many!

  1. Skills

This section should focus on your proven abilities, e.g.

Intermediate Software: Word, Excel, Outlook, Internet

Basic Software: PowerPoint, Photoshop

Languages: English native speaker, fluent Italian (written and spoken)

Bear in mind that recruitment agencies and potential employers will often test your software skills, especially if they are essential for the role you are applying for.

  1. Work Experience

Demonstrating work experience, whether paid, casual or voluntary, can make or break your resume.

Include details, such as employer name, location, role, and dates of employment. And then show how you made a difference. What were your responsibilities in the role? What did you achieve?

If you worked on the crew at Macca’s, you could talk about working as part of a team, delivering top quality customer service, and the challenges of producing results in short timeframes.

If you helped out in the family business, focus on your contribution. Perhaps you designed a new spreadsheet to capture important information, or assisted customers in-store.

  1. Interests

Along with #5, this is your chance to tell recruiters and potential employers more about you as an individual. Interests should generally fall into three categories:

  • Relevant to the job

If you’re applying for a role at a building consultancy, an interest in modern architecture could be a real plus. Just make sure you can talk about it in some detail.

  • Showcase for your skills

Don’t just list one word, like “Sailing”, and leave it at that. Mention your participation in local regattas, and any good race results; include your role on the yacht club social committee.

  • Plain quirky

Juggling, acrobatics, and collecting paperclips show your originality, and can be useful conversation openers at interview stage.

  1. Referees

Include the full name, job title, organisation, email and telephone number of two referees. Ideally, these should be people you have worked with, such as a shift manager or team leader. If you don’t have much prior work experience, you could always ask someone who knows you well, e.g. a family friend or high school teacher to be a referee.

Ask your referees before providing their details to recruiters and potential employers.

  1. Spellcheck

Run a spellcheck through your resume, then print out a copy and read it from start to finish. Ask a couple of trusted friends or family to look through the final draft. They might just find the one error you’ve overlooked.

Jacqueline Fink of Little Dandelion in Balgowlah is an extreme knitter, as you may have read recently. She uses giant knitting needles and balls of wool to create a range of stunning knits, including blankets, throws and wall hangings. And social media has spread the love for her beautiful craftwork, spawning a whole community of extreme knitters around the globe. Fink’s is an unusual hobby, that’s for sure, and it got us thinking about the subject of including hobbies on résumés. Should you or shouldn’t you?

Opinion varies from one recruiter to the next. For some, personal interests are a big no-no: they are considered to be irrelevant – an unnecessary distraction on a formal business document. This group of recruiters won’t give your interests a second glance, choosing to focus instead on the professional experience and skills you would bring to a role.

Other recruiters may look at your hobbies as part of your overall application for a job. And there are two important reasons why:

  • Relevant skills: Your hobbies may suggest that you have some of the desired qualities for the role. This can be useful for job applicants, particularly those who have limited professional experience. A candidate applying for a junior management role may be captain of their local football team, for example. Someone applying for work as an apprentice mechanic may enjoy tinkering with engines in their spare time.
  • Adaptability: Showcasing a broad range of interests in a résumé can potentially be a benefit, especially for client-facing roles, like law and accountancy, where candidates need to build relationships with people from different backgrounds at different levels of seniority.

In a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald, Jim Bright, Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU, suggests looking at the evidence, rather than opinion. He conducted a study about the presence or absence of hobbies on résumés with a large recruitment company in Australia. After sampling no less than 999 résumés, this was the team’s conclusion: “What we found was that the hobbies made precisely no difference whatsoever to hiring decisions.” Bright suggests that candidates lose the hobbies off their résumés and use the space for content that will increase their chances of getting shortlisted. Many recruiters and candidates would disagree. Hobbies remain a very subjective issue.

Should you choose to include your interests on your résumé, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Keep them until the end: Make sure you cover your professional experience and skills first.
  • Include some detail: Don’t just list your interests; add a little information that sells them to your recruiter.
  • Have something to say about your interests at interview.

So back to Jacqueline Fink, the extreme knitter from Little Dandelion we met at the beginning of this post. Instead of writing “extreme knitter” on her résumé and leaving it at that, she could perhaps expand along these lines: “I am passionate about extreme knitting – using super-size needles and wool to create unique objects and installations.” Would it give her the edge in landing the role? Possibly – and then again – possibly not. So much depends on the individual recruiter.

What is your view? Do you think you should use or lose hobbies on a résumé?

With so much advice, tips and information out there on how to land your dream job I am feeling stressed from the sheer volume of what I need to know and I haven’t even interviewed yet.

We have put our heads together in the office and come up with a list of what NOT to do for your interview. Common sense… Most likely but we have taken the stories and comments from hiring managers we have heard over the years and compiled a list for you.

What not to do, to get that job

  1. Don’t be late for your interview

If you are running late call the hiring manager or recruiter and let them know. We understand stuff happens and it can be unavoidable but tell someone otherwise your punctuality will be questioned and it’s not a good look. On the flip side don’t be super early it’s annoying having you waiting in reception 45 minutes before. Turn up 5 minutes before the interview is scheduled.

  1. Wear appropriate clothes.

Have you heard the expression ‘dress to impress’ well it works!  Depending on the role you are going for, you may not need the full suit and tie but are shorts, singlet and thongs the best you could do?

  1. Don’t sit in reception on your phone

Turn your phone off or put it on silent, you don’t want it ringing during your interview. Take the time to observe and see what is going on, it’s amazing what you can see when you are not glued to your phone.

  1. Don’t smoke just before your interview

We understand it might help you to not be so nervous – but the smell will be noticeable no matter how many mints you chew.

  1. Do not take a takeaway coffee cup into the interview

We understand it’s the norm to walk around with a cup in your hand but now is not the time or place. It also makes it awkward when you go to shake hands and your hands are full. We won’t even go there with chewing gum!

  1. Don’t bag out your previous employees

Yes, your old employers might be awful but if you criticise them in the interview the hiring manager won’t be impressed and it’s a small world out there.  You may give the impression you could be difficult to work with.

  1. Don’t sit down before you are invited and bring your enthusiasm!

Wait until you are told to sit down, its common courtesy. Ensure your body language is sending the right signals. Make eye contact with the hiring manager, ensure you have a solid handshake and be happy, no one wants to chat with someone who is sour.

  1. Don’t answer the question with ‘it’s on my resume’

This is one of our pet hates, we want to hear your answer, how you articulate and communicate what you have done not just a one-word statement.

  1. Watch your language

Obviously swearing is off limits but how often do you say umm when you are talking or ‘like’ or do you finish your sentence with yeah. Practising some sample interview questions before your interview may help you to be more articulate.

We hope we haven’t scared you off with all our don’ts, be yourself and try to enjoy the experience no matter how nervous you may be. One last thing; treat everyone you meet with a smile from other people in the lift, the receptionist, to walking past desks towards the meeting room – these could be your potential colleagues, bosses and they will share their impressions of you later. Make sure you are seen in a positive light.

We would love to hear any stories or experiences you have had during your interviews from either side of the desk.

When was the last time you sat down and updated job descriptions in your organisation? For many managers, this activity may not be very high on your priority list, but it should be! Well-written, up-to-date job descriptions (JDs) can be incredibly useful documents for setting and managing expectations in many areas, including:

  • Recruitment: Whether you are hiring internally or externally, a job description provides recruiting managers and candidates with a clear idea of what the role entails and what requirements and qualifications are needed. A JD is also an excellent source of information for writing job ads and briefing agencies.
  • Training: A comprehensive job description gives managers and employees an indication of individual training needs based on role requirements. A suitable training plan can then be drawn up to enable employees to perform their job with confidence and skill.
  • Performance Management: When it comes to that year-end appraisal, reach for those job descriptions. You can evaluate your employees against the expectations you have set out, see where they are succeeding, and establish areas for development.
  • Compensation: A JD should provide an indication of the expected salary range for a particular role. This can help prospective candidates to self-select during the recruitment process. It can also be useful for managers when it comes to discussing salary raises, e.g. providing justification for a lower increase if a job holder is not fully carrying out the responsibilities of the role, or not meeting certain requirements.

So, what should you include in a winning job description?

A comprehensive header: State the formal job title, job type, reporting relationship, division/department, work location, salary range.

Job summary: Provide a brief overview of the job’s purpose, expectations and objectives.

Duties and responsibilities: Start with the duties/responsibilities that take up the most time. Use a bulleted list so that content is easily readable; you can also split the list into categories.

Education & qualifications: Provide information on the education level/type and qualifications that are required for the job.

Knowledge, skills & abilities (KSAs): This should be a list of those KSAs that are required for the job. Note that although skills and abilities are often bundled together, there is a difference! Skills are measurable and observable, and may be acquired through training. Abilities are generally innate (and not learned through training). Here are some examples to get you started:

Knowledge: Knowledge of administrative processes, year-end accounting procedures, operational systems

Skills: Proficiency in the Microsoft Office suite, mechanical repair, accurate data entry,

Abilities: Preparing and maintaining records, working in a team, communicating effectively (written and spoken)

Physical/mental demands: Include any information that is specific to the job, such as heavy lifting, climbing stairs, standing for extended periods of time, public speaking, as well as the work environment (e.g. outdoor work, use of hazardous chemicals).

Tools/equipment used: If applicable, include any specific/specialist tools needed to do the job.

Signature: The employee should sign and date the job description to acknowledge they have read and understood it.

We’ve put together a neat job description template that you are welcome to download and complete for jobs within your organisation. Send us an email and we will share it with you. We hope you find it useful!

Light Entertainment

We are eagerly counting down the days to Vivid Sydney 2019, when the city becomes a wintry kaleidoscope of light, music and ideas. This year, Vivid is set to run from Friday 24 May to Saturday 15 June. And there is so much to experience. Question is where to start? Here are some of our top picks for 2019:

The Royal Botanic Garden

One of Sydney’s most beautiful green spaces will be transformed into an interactive enchanted forest, complete with dancing grass, river of light and shimmering firefly field. We can’t wait to unlock the mysteries of The Light Portal and enjoy the buzz at Beetopia, a touch-sensitive bee hotel.

And we’ll definitely be testing our voices at I Hear You (But Do You Hear Me?) an installation that looks at (in)equality of speech in the digital era.

Circular Quay

It’s definitely the time to don the winter woollies because it’s set to snow at Hickson Road Reserve during the festival! Let It Snow comprises thousands of LED bulbs that respond to weather and people’s movements.

We’re seriously excited by the prospect of playing with Goo! Where else can you play with great big blobs of the colourful stuff – without getting your hands dirty?!

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House is always a must-see during the festival. This year, the Austral Floral Ballet inspired by Australia’s beautiful native plant life will dance across the famous Sails.

We’ll be on foot to take in the action. The Vivid Light Walk winds around from the Royal Botanic Garden past the Opera House to The Rocks. The 3 km route will be ablaze with colour and light from myriad installations on land and sea.

And the fun is not all limited to the CBD, either.

We fancy an evening at Taronga Zoo, which joins the festival again this year. Lights for the Wild features giant illuminated animal sculptures, including a Sumatran Tiger and her cubs, a Marine Turtle and a gorilla family. Each one provides a vibrant reminder of the zoo’s ongoing commitment to wildlife conservation.

Note: Evening entry fees for Taronga Zoo apply.

Chatswood is also a key destination in Vivid Sydney 2019 with no few than 18 installations. Chatswood Mall will hold a garden of giant Trumpet Flowers where visitors can make their own light and sound, while The Concourse unfolds into a many-feathered bird of paradise.

We’ll be heading to the top of the Mall to Listen to the World via Alexandr Milov’s heart-shaped sculpture, where flower power meets technology.

And let’s not forget that Vivid Sydney is also about music and ideas.

For musos, we reckon Carriageworks is the place to hang out. This trendy Sydney venue will be welcoming indie dance trio RÜFÜS DU SOL for a headline performance (already sold out, alas), as well as FKA twigs. Curve Ball featuring music and visuals, looks like a real winner too.  And, of course, legendary band The Cure will be playing five nights at Sydney Opera House.

We’ll be checking into The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia for inspiration from Vivid Ideas Exchange, featuring talks and workshops on pretty much everything, including Unworking – How the Future of Work Will Set Us Free. Do we want to hear a panel of experts discuss what work will look like in Sydney in 2029? Yes, we do.

Vivid Sydney 2019: Light entertainment, and so much more.