writing a resume and cover letter

To be successful in getting a job is knowing the best way to go about it, and making the most of the opportunity when you do have a job interview.

It’s a great idea to speak to a careers counsellor or enrol in a job search training course to help you with this.


You will learn about:

  • Resume/CV writing

  • Networking - using family, friends, word of mouth, other contacts

  • Checking for jobs on websites, in newspaper

  • Being Persistent

  • Registering for work with job placement agencies (jobactive), Group Training Companies (GTO)

  • Cold calling employers by phone and visit

  • Employability/Foundation skills

Log on to My Skills to check out training organisations that offer these courses.

Prepare your Resume

Your resume is one of the most important tools in your job search. While interviewing skills, industry-related knowledge, and practical skills are important as well, you’ll never have the opportunity to demonstrate these if you don’t have a well written resume.

Your resume is the very first impression you make on your prospective employer. If you do a poor job of it, this will also be the only impression the company ever gets of you. Poorly written resumes may hit the rubbish bin before they’ve even been read through. Your resume needs to stand out as clean, clear, and concise from the very first glace.

If your resume goes on for several pages, has a layout that’s difficult to read, or has spelling errors, you’ll never get a call for an interview. A well-written and visually pleasing resume will probably be read by the hiring manager. If your qualifications look as good as the overall presentation, you’ll be on your way to the interview stage.

Reference: Benefits of a well written resume


What should be included in a resume?

Use your resume to communicate the most important features of yourself as a potential employee. You need to write about your work experience, skills, qualifications, interests and attributes.

How to build your own resume

There are many websites that provide information, templates and other resources to help you create your own unique resume. A useful and simple tool is the interactive Resume Builder program at Skillsroad. Another website, SEEK, has helpful advice on writing resumes and covering letters.

Follow these tips to get your resume noticed:


  • Use action words, such as developed, managed and designed.

  • Keep paragraphs under seven lines. Since resumes are often scanned by recruiters, it has a better chance of being read if it is condensed.

  • Always relate your experience to the job you are seeking.

  • Be honest.

  • Check thoroughly for grammar and spelling mistakes. It's a good idea to have a friend look it over for unnoticed mistakes while you are writing your resume.

  • Use high-quality paper that is white, ivory or another conservative colour.

  • Use normal margins (approx 2 centimetres on top and bottom, approx 2.5 centimetres on sides).

  • Make sure your resume is clear and visually pleasing with enough white space.

  • Make your resume unique. List technical skills, certificates awarded, professional memberships, military experience, travel and community work if it relates to the job you are seeking.


  • Be vague. Use percentages and numbers wherever possible, such as "Cut costs by 25%, saving the company $1,400 for the financial year."

  • Be too focused on job duties. Go above and beyond, listing the new programs you took part in.

  • Write about inappropriate and unnecessary personal experiences.

  • Use personal pronouns, such as "I" and "me".

  • Include copies of transcripts, letters of recommendation or awards.

  • Include reasons you left your previous job.

  • Staple your resume.

A cover letter is not a job application – it's a short, tailored letter that should accompany any resume or CV you send to a prospective employer.

Whether you are applying for a specific, advertised job or you are marketing yourself (through cold calling) for possible future work, your cover letter aims to:

  • introduces you and highlights your key selling points (skills, experience or achievements).

  • encourages the reader to discover more about you through your resume.

  • includes definite actions i.e. requesting an interview (for a specific job) or meeting (to discuss more general work prospects).

Always try to address your letter to a specific person rather than a ‘To whom it may concern’ letter. This means more work for you, but also more chance of success.

You may need to call an organisation and find out who you need to address your letter to, and you may need to spend some time researching a company (using the internet or other means) so that you can make your letter relevant to a specific job or company.

You maximise your chances of getting an interview by writing a short cover letter that is to the point. Demonstrate you understand the job requirements, you have matching skills and experience and you are genuinely interested and enthusiastic about this specific opportunity.

There's no one formula for writing a great cover letter. It depends on what's expected in your field, the industry and the sector. It also depends on you and the approach you are taking to your job hunt.

Remember: The aim with any covering letter is to keep it brief (no more than a page).

Applying for specific positions

Employers receive many letters and get very good at scanning applications for key information. The information that’s important to them is whether you meet the criteria for the job through:

  • your skills and abilities;

  • your background and experience;

  • your personal profile; and/or

  • your training and academic track record.

There are many ways to highlight that you are the right person for the job. Focus on what the employer is looking for and show them – initially through your covering letter and then in more detail through your resume – that you are the ideal candidate.

Get professional support

If you feel you need help there are a range of ways we can support you.