One of the hardest aspects of migrating to Australia is finding a job.
Your resume (aka CV) is often the first thing that recruiters and employers will know about you and that’s why it’s crucial to make sure your resume is in the best shape possible.
Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid on your resume in Australia.
Resume Mistake #1 – Spelling & Grammar Mistakes
Poor spelling and grammar is a major turn off for employers. If you can’t spell or type properly, what sort of attention to detail will you have in your work?
Triple check your resume before finalising it and starting to send it with job applications. Get someone else to look over it as well, in case you’ve skimmed over any errors.
If English isn’t your first language, get someone else to look over it as well – someone with an excellent command of it.
Resume Mistake #2 – Long Paragraphs
These days most employers are inundated with applications when they recruit. You need to make it easy for them to read your resume, and long paragraphs are a no-no.
With short attention spans the norm, keep your sentences short and snappy and your paragraphs no longer than 2-3 sentences.
Resume Mistake #3 – Incomplete Work History
Gaps in your work history never look good. Ones less than 6 months aren’t so problematic but longer gaps can be tricky.
If you’ve been studying or travelling, be upfront about it. It might be worth talking to a professional resume writer about how to address these in your resume without scuppering your chances.
Resume Mistake #4 – Listing Every Job You’ve Ever Had
No-one cares about the retail job you had when you were 17 or your part-time waitressing that got your through university. Especially if you’re now in a completely different industry.
Look through your roles and start with the most relevant for the role you’re going for now. This means you can change your resume depending on what job you’re applying for, so don’t be afraid to tweak your resume for different job applications.
Resume Mistake #5 – Listing Every Responsibility You’ve Ever Had
Don’t list every responsibility in every role – pick the most relevant ones. It’s not important that you answered the phones if you’re now going for a role that doesn’t include doing this.
Pick 3 or 4 most relevant key responsibilities in each role and list them as bullet points.
Resume Mistake #6 – Including Your Reasons For Leaving
It’s not 1996. People don’t care if you were made redundant or moved for a better opportunity.
Just don’t include any reasons for leaving for any roles.
Resume Mistake #7 – No Employment Summary
An employment summary can give a potential employer a quick overview of where you’ve worked and what you’ve achieved.
Sometimes your resume will go straight in the reject pile if you don’t have an easy-to-read summary before you list all your employment.
Resume Mistake #8 – Writing Your Summary In The Third Person
It’s just weird when people talk about themselves in the 3rd person. Don’t do it – stick to the 1st person.
Resume Mistake #9 – Too Long
Employers don’t have time to sift through a 6-page resume of your entire life and career.
If your resume if more than 3 pages long, you need to cut it down – way down.
Resume Mistake #10 – Too Short
Just like you don’t want your resume to be too long, you don’t want it too short either.
Generally, one page just isn’t long enough to get across your skills and experience, especially if you’re going for more senior roles.
Most resumes are 2-3 pages long so try and aim for somewhere around this length.
Resume Mistake #11 – No Key Skills Section
Make it easy for employers by showing exactly what you can offer. Bullet point makes it short, neat and quick to read.
Having a key skills section allows you to draw attention to skills that you know will be valued in the role you’re applying for.
That means you should tweak this section for different roles, to highlight the right skills for each position.
Resume Mistake #12 – Including Your Visa Status
When applying for jobs in Australia, do not include your visa status.
Most positions are advertised with the requirements when it comes to your working status. For example, sponsorship considered or must have full working rights.
If you don’t meet the criteria specified, don’t waste your time applying for the job and hoping to convert them to your wonderous talents.
Similarly, you don’t need to say you’re on a visa, or what kind of visa it is, unless they have specifically asked (which I’ve personally never seen).
Resume Mistake #13 – Adding Irrelevant Education
So you did a barista course 10 years ago when you were a student? How is that relevant to the mechanical engineering role you’re going for?
Employers do not need to know every little course you’ve ever done since leaving school.
Highlight some key education achievements that are relevant to the role you’re applying for, and get rid of the rest.
Resume Mistake #14 – Inappropriate Email Address
Make sure you have a professional email address to include in your contact information (and use to send your application).
Chances are if you’re emailing from ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ you’re not going to be taken very seriously.
Set up a Gmail with your name or if you want to look super professional, you could buy your own domain name and set up an email using that. An email from ‘email@example.com’ gives the impression that you take your career seriously.
Resume Mistake #15 – Too Much Personal Information
If you are going to include something personal, keep it short and sweet, and relevant if possible.
List interests or pursuits that show your character or that relate to the role. Don’t just list generic hobbies.
Also, don’t include information about your family situation – married, single, etc. Although it shouldn’t, it can lead to discrimination against you if the employer has preconceived notions.
Resume Mistake #16 – Poor Or Sneaky Formatting
Don’t use dodgy formatting on your resume. Employers can tell if you’re trying to get away with things via formatting.
Can’t keep your resume to 3 pages? Don’t adjust the margins so you can fit more text on the page.
Don’t leave big gaps or misalign your text.
There are plenty of free templates available online so there is no excuse for this.
Resume Mistake #17 – Using Old-Fashioned Fonts
Still typing in Times New Roman? It might be time to update your font choice.
Keep it simple and clean so it’s easy for potential employers to read.
Resume Mistake #18 – Clichéd Phrases
Works well independently.
These phrases mean nothing but providing evidence of why you would be these things works wonders. Instead, turn it around to show what you’ve achieved.
Results-oriented becomes ‘met X deadline for Y sales’.
Team player becomes ‘dealt with X within team Y to achieve Z’.
Resume Mistake #19 – Not Putting Your Most Recent Employment First
Most, if not all, employers expect to see your work history in reverse chronological order. That’s most recent first.
If you lead with your oldest experience, they might assume that’s your most recent experience and not even bother looking any further.
Don’t waste your time or theirs and avoid this simple resume mistake.
Resume Mistake #20 – Including Referees
Referees don’t need to be included on your resume.
Just add a note at the end stating references available on request.
Not only does it save space on your resume but it’s also better for you in case they contact a reference that doesn’t know you’re job-hunting (like your current boss!).
Resume Mistake #21 – Adding A Photo
Unless you’re applying for a modelling or acting job, don’t include a photo.
What you look like usually has no bearing on how you do your job, so don’t give employers the opportunity to reject you for any other reason than your experience and skills.
Resume Mistake #22 – Poor File Naming
When’s the last time you updated the file name of your resume?
Or are you still sending out ‘John-Smith-CV-2009’ to jobs today?
Another thing to watch out for is sending a resume that gives away you’re applying for multiple roles. So don’t send a resume named ‘John-Smith-Sales’ or ‘John-Smith-IT’.
Resume Mistake #23 – Lying
Probably the biggest mistake you can make on your resume is to lie. Just don’t do it.
You’ll get caught out at some stage, whether it’s at interview or in the role itself if you get the job.
Totally not worth it and could end up sabotaging your career.
Bonus Mistake To Avoid – No Tailored Cover Letter
Here’s a handy tip that’s not strictly resume related – if a job description asks for a cover letter addressing certain criteria, write one!
I’ve spoken to so many people who recruit or deal with recruiters, and if people don’t follow simple instructions in the job spec, your resume goes immediately into the bin.
Don’t just send a generic cover letter either. It’s fine to have a template but make sure you tweak it for every job you apply for. Show you’ve put some thought into it, and have carefully considered why you’re a good fit for the role.
A lot of government jobs require specific things to be addressed in the cover letter as well, and if these are not present, you won’t even get a look in.
And that’s my list of key mistakes to avoid on your resume in Australia.
Have you been looking for work in Australia or are you a recruiter? What’s the worst resume faux pas you’ve seen? Let me know in the comments below!
For more tips around job hunting, read my post on how to find a job in Perth here.