I recently advertised a short-term contract role; perfect for that graduate looking for a first-entry role into a new job, industry or trying to build upon their experience.

What became clear when applications started rolling in was that many graduates had little or no idea how to write a winning resume. Not only had many failed to read the job ad correctly, they also missed the mark when it came to marketing themselves favourably.

A winning resume is vitally important for graduates who have limited experience. It shows potential employers a couple of crucial things. It gives them a summary of your skills and qualifications which is invaluable if a job lists specific requirements. It also showcases your writing talent. It displays your ability to condense a large amount of information (or small, depending on your experience!) into a concise document. It demonstrates that you can organise information in a logical manner that’s free of spelling and grammatical errors.

Here are a few simple steps to making sure your next resume is a winning one.

1. Get the presentation right

The presentation of your resume is crucial if you want the employer to read on. Make sure you lay out work experience in a neat format with a brief explanation of the role and duties performed. Poor spelling and grammar are huge red flags, so make sure you get a friend to review and proofread your resume. Starting each sentence with the letter ‘I’ does not look particularly good in a resume and only highlights the lack of ability to properly express yourself.

2. Confidence is good, but arrogance is not

Even if you’re sure that you’d be an absolutely fantastic choice, you don’t know you’re the best. Imagine reading through six resumes in a row from people who all claim to be “the best candidate.” To stay on the hiring manager’s good side, refrain from using “best.” Along similar lines, stay away from “ideal” and perfect.”

Professionally explain your skills in the context of the job description – this will do far more to gain attention.  Showing the employer what makes you the best candidate, not just telling them and expecting them to believe it, will get you that interview.

3. Focus on the skills that count

As a graduate or student, it is best to highlight the skills acquired from your degree rather than giving lengthy details about that irrelevant job you had during the summer holidays in Year 12. Make sure you feature the skills the employer wants you to utilise in the job. It is fine to list work experience as long as it doesn’t become the focus of the resume. It will not add any weight to your application and will only distract the reader from the important skills.

4. Show some respect

It is important to show respect to the hiring manager, whether it be the client or a recruitment consultant. This is best done by acknowledging their limited time and not wasting it with overly long descriptions or emails. Your opinion of yourself does not carry weight at this stage, so only list things that are factual and can be supported with evidence.

5. Do not be too familiar

DO NOT submit applications or interest via SMS. This is too familiar for a first contact. LinkedIn submissions are okay if that is how the advertiser posted the job or contacted you. Otherwise, a well written email with your resume attached is always best. If you show respect to the advertiser it will invite a respectful consideration.

6. Check your eligibility

For international graduates living in Australia, make sure you clearly show that you have the right to work, along with your availability. There is no point applying for a full-time role on a student visa with capacity to only work 20 hours per week.

If you do not have Australian work rights, then PLEASE do not waste the time of the advertiser by applying for jobs hoping for a sponsorship. It is common practice for the advertiser to place sponsorship information on the advert. Sending in an application without the appropriate Australian work rights will simply frustrate the advertiser. If you are unsure, email the advertiser separately for sponsorship details.

Writing a bad resume is easy. Writing a winning resume takes effort. It will take time and many drafts. Hopefully, you feel better equipped to write a resume that will get you that first entry-level job or internship that will put you on the career path of your choice.

Remember that you can and should ask for help with your resume. You’ll learn so much, and you may even make a valuable professional connection in the process.

360HR offers practical job assistance to graduates and job seekers. Read other helpful articles or contact 360HR today to discuss your next role.

By Peter Landis, 360HR Recruitment Specialist

Based in Sydney, Peter’s network extends Australia-wide. He is a Specialist in the GIS and Geospatial sectors as well as IT. Peter has worked with Government and Commercial clients in both contract and Permanent hires and is known for his ability to handle even the most difficult roles.

Contact Peter for your GIS and Geospatial talent needs –  Mob: 0414 456 301 | Email: peterl@360hr.com.au