Our Top Resume Tips
Re-write or edit your government resume for every position you
Every time you apply for a job, whether it is a government job or a
job in the private industry, you should be editing your resume. You
should tailor your education history, core skills and achievements for
the type of position you are applying for. You can also use (cut and
paste, but don't over do it) key phrases and key words from the job
description and selection criteria into your resume to show that you
have a good match of skills for the position.
Put the most relevant information first.
Selection panels have lots of applications to read through and they generally aren't extensively trained or used to recruitment exercises, so putting this important information first is going to make it easier to find. If someone is reading through your application and is skim reading (very common in first cuts of applications) you will want the most important information to stand out, and stand out big! Other ways to help selection panels find and notice important information:
- Use highlighting
- Use bullet points
- Use lots of white space (making your resume easy to skim read).
Don't rely on spelling and grammar checkers.
You should check your resume yourself for spelling and grammar
errors. Even better, get someone else to check it for you.
Don’t use jargon
Jargon and acronyms are going to be confusing for someone who is not
working in your industry. Selection panels often have independent
members who are not in that particular industry and it is important to
remember that they have equal say in who gets the job. Make it easier
for them, and you will be helping yourself.
Keep the style consistent.
For example, the way you handle dates and titles should be
consistent. Most people have one resume that they keep adding to, and
over the years it can become a bit inconsistent. This can make things
confusing for the people reading your resume, and the last thing you
want to do when applying for a job is confuse the decision makers.
Keeping things easy and straight forward will put more ticks in your
Keep the length of your resume to around three pages.
If you are applying for a job in the private industry, then your
resume will probably need to be longer. But because you have your
statements against the selection criteria, a government resume just
needs to summarise your employment history and key relevant points.
Don't pad it out if you don't think it looks long enough. A length
resume will actually work against you. In
a private industry application, your resume is your job application. In
a government job application, your resume is a supporting document.
Use a clear and easy to read font type.
Sized at about font size 12 is perfect. Don't use custom fonts,
because if you are sending in word document the fonts will most likely
be replaced, leading to an ugly resume. Keep it to a plain and common
This will make the sections of your resume clear and easy to find.
Have wide margins.
This will allow the person reviewing your resume to make notes, and
white space makes your resume easier to read through and find important
Use the footer.
Put your name and the page number in the footer of each page. This
will ensure that pages of your application don't go missing when they
are printed or photocopied for the selection panel.
Tips for presentation.
If you are printing and sending in your resume (very uncommon these days, but some people still do):
- Use good quality white paper, but not custom stationary or embossed paper
- Staple the document together, do not bind it or put it in a
presentation folder (this will most likely get thrown out by the
recruitment / HR team when they compile applications and make copies
for the selection panel)
If you are emailing your resume remember:
- It should contain as little formatting as possible.
- It should not contain a lot of colour - it will be printed, most likely in black and white, and potentially photocopied in black and white for the selection panel.
- Don't PDF your resume unless it is requested in this format. If you are applying through a recruitment agency they will definitely want a Word version so they can edit out your personal details before they submit it to their client.
General presentation tips:
- Unless you are applying for a position in a creative industry, such as website design, graphic art or photography etc., stay away from graphics and fancy borders. While you may be trying to grab the reader’s attention, it will make your resume more difficult to read and understand, and will therefore most likely have a negative impact.
- Generally it is not a good idea to include a photo of yourself in your resume unless you are in a highly specialised or small industry and you wish for someone on the selection panel to recognise you.
Don't forget to include...
Memberships of relevant industry organisations and societies.
Image © Depositphotos.com / pio3
More help with your job application:
Writing better selection criteria: what where when why and how
The secret of top interview performers