Top 10 FAQs About Writing a Professional Resume

Top-10Did you get the big Heave Ho just before Christmas? Did you see it coming?

The end of the year is often the time when organisations make drastic changes to their workforce. The lucky few may be elated by receiving a healthy bonus, but there are thousands of workers who received their Marching Orders.

If you are one of these people, you probably had no idea you’d be fired….especially just before Christmas.  You went into work as normal, counting down the days until the Christmas break… and left minus your job and your feeling of self-worth.

If this sounds like you (or someone you know), this article will help you take the first step to bounce back.

Here are some tips to get you on the right track. It’s always a good idea to have your resume updated and ready to send quickly when an opportunity presents itself. So, let’s get to work.

1. What’s the difference between a résumé and a CV?

The terms ‘Résumé’ and ‘Curriculum Vitae’ are both in common use these days. When you respond to an advertisement, use the term in the ad to name your document. For example, If you are asked to send    your CV and cover letter, call your document a CV. Similarly, if you are asked to email your résumé, call your document a résumé.

2.   How long should my résumé be? 

Your résumé needs to be long enough to succinctly ‘sell’ your skills and experience – and not one word longer. The length of your résumé will depend on your employment history. Obviously, if you’ve only had one job, it will be a lot shorter than someone with a 20 year work history. Here’s a tip – only include the last 10 years’ work history in your résumé. You can list earlier jobs as headings. For example: ‘Key roles held prior to 2001: Bank Teller; Administration Officer; Customer Service Officer’.

3.   Should I include a photo of myself in my résumé?

Some hospitality positions and flight attendant positions require you to send a photo with your application. Generally speaking, the only time you need to send your photo is if your appearance is directly related to the role. For all other positions, do NOT send a photo.

4.   Should I include my hobbies and sports in my Personal Details section?

Only include your hobbies or sports if they are relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a position as a Sports Coach and you play sport at a high level, then it is relevant to include in your résumé. Keep your résumé professional by only providing your contact details, (name, email address, home phone and cell phone number) in your Personal Details section.

5.   Should I include how many children I have and their names?

No. Your résumé is not the place to mention your family. It might be perceived as a negative to an employer. For example, they may be thinking ‘Will Mary need time off during school holidays or when the kids are sick?’

6. Are résumé templates okay to use?

One size definitely does not fit all. Your résumé needs to be tailored to your individual background. You also need to put your most important information upfront. For example, if you are a graduate, your educational qualifications will be more important than your work history. Conversely, if you are a mature-age applicant, your career summary and employment history are much more important than your education, so should be listed immediately after your contact details and career objective.

7. How many referees do I need?

Choose at least three verbal referees (people who can be contacted by  phone) even if you are only asked to supply two. This is because your referees may be on holidays or out of the workplace when the recruiter calls to do the reference check. Make sure you include your referees’ mobile numbers and email addresses to make it easy to contact them.

8. Who should I ask to be a referee?

This is one of the most important parts of your résumé. Choose three people who can comment on your work performance. Your referees can ‘make’ or ‘break’ your chances of getting the job, so choose them carefully. A good choice would be your manager, supervisor, work colleagues, suppliers, customers, etc.

9. Should I explain gaps in my employment?

Yes! You need to answer any questions that may be in the employer’s or recruiter’s mind when reading your application. If you have been unemployed for a period of time, but have held a voluntary role, state: ‘2007 – 2008: Voluntary position as Treasurer ‘XYZ Charity’. If you’ve  been at home caring for children, state: ‘2006 – 2008: Full Time Parenting Duties.’

10.  How do I make my résumé look professional?  Here are a few ‘insider’ tips used by professional résumé writers:

  • Use a reverse chronological format (start with the most recent position and work backwards)
  • Choose headings to match your individual educational and employment background.
  • Use an 11 or 12 point font such as Times New Roman for hard copy applications and ‘Arial’ or ‘Verdana’ for online applications.
  • Use bullet points and white space between paragraphs to make your application easy to read.
  • Put your name, page number and the position you’re applying for in the header or footer on each page of your application.
  • Don’t squeeze lots of information onto the page to save having extra pages – it makes your application hard to read.
  • Proofread your application carefully and get someone else to read it  to make sure it is error-proof.

Good Luck with writing your resume. It’s the first step to getting a fantastic new job.  For further free articles and resources, go to

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