Tips for CV Writing in Australia – An Insiders View


I find myself in the dubious position of being a ‘CV expert’, quite by accident. Not that my advice should not be trusted, but becoming an expert by accident comes with the problem of never realising when your knowledge would be useful to others.  It might also just be the academic imposter syndrome at work, who knows.  So after bringing hundreds of graduate students’ CV’s to a point where a recruiter would hopefully look twice, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the common pitfalls with those who do not get the opportunity to experience the wrath of my red pen.  So here are a eight quick tips for the Aussie CV.

1.  No Photo and No Header

This is not a beauty contest. Don’t give anyone ammunition to discriminate against you.  This also means no marital status or religious affiliations (Yes, it happens, and some parts of the world expect to see it in a CV). OK, so use a header, but don’t put the header information on every page, you’re wasting space.  Also keep in mind that if the company uses software to weed out CV’s it will probably skip the information in the header.

2.  Keep it Short

If you are a recent graduate, no more than two pages.  You have loads of experience?  Then consider a third page. The aim is not to have an exhaustive document with everything you have ever achieved all the way from your time in primary school. So keep it short, and keep it relevant, which leads to my next point.

3.  Tailor Your CV – For Every Job

If you can’t list every conceivable skill you have ever picked up, then you should focus on the skills required by the job you are applying for. Don’t just list these skills, tell us what your skill level is. This also applies to your experience, and responsibilities. Do you want that tax auditor job?  Then there is no need to add the details of your Nail Painting Course from 2008.

4.  Yes, Your Soft Skills are Important

Everyone applying for the job probably has the same technical skills. The company can even train whoever they want in the technical skills.  The one thing they desperately need are people who will ‘fit’ well. This elusive ‘fit’ comes from your soft skills. The workplace needs people with Emotional Intelligence, good team players, people with integrity and honesty.  Don’t give a list of these nice sounding words in your CV, tell them more about these skills.  Where did you pick them up, how do you use them?

5.  Interests Anyone?

“I like going to the movies, reading and walking on the beach.”  No, these are things everyone likes to do. It is a common human experience.  No need to list them. Is there something that makes you a more interesting person? Something that would be a lovely conversation starter in the interview?  Then by all means, list it, but don’t write a book about it.

6. Career Objective / Profile

If you decide to have an objective or a profile at the start you should make it specific to the job you are applying for.  Short and to the point. Something generic immediately shows that your CV is stale, and you just shoot it off to hundreds of recruiters while crossing your fingers.

7. Referees Available on Request

Don’t list your referees’ details on your CV.  This information should be asked from you at the time of the interview. Even saying ‘referees available on request’ is becoming unnecessary, it is assumed.

8.  The Devil is in the Details

Your CV is in a competition, and in most instances it will rise to the top based on first impressions.  Are your headings consistent? Is your spacing consistent? Is it easy to find information? Is your email professional? (no, speedyboy77 at gmail is  not professional). Have a LinkedIn profile, and consider including the short link in your CV.

Yes, different industries and individual recruiters vary in their approach, so do your research. Hopefully this guide will get you started. Happy CV writing!

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