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It doesn’t matter if you’re leaving Year 12 and hoping to start working or apply for summer jobs to earn a bit of cash – if you want a job, you’re going to need a resume. Potential employers use your resume to decide if you’re a good enough candidate to be asked for an interview.

Even if you have all the credentials required and would be perfect for the job, if your resume doesn’t impress the person reading the applications, then you’ll be at the bottom of their pile (otherwise known as ‘the bin’). Let’s take a look at some resume facts and how you can use yours to start working.

What exactly is a resume?

A resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is a summary of you. It includes your education, qualifications, work experience, skills, and achievements – all nicely laid out in an easy to read but professional format.

What should a school leaver’s resume include?

As a school leaver, no employer will expect you to have an enormous resume, so one page should be plenty to summarise all your achievements to date – two pages max if you have loads of work experience or additional and relevant skills that you’d like to showcase.

Employers often have to sift through lots of job applications and they have neither the time nor inclination to read through lengthy essay-style resumes. So don’t waste your time (or theirs) and focus instead on creating a resume that’s simple and effective.

Your resume should include the following:

  • Your name, age, and contact details (address, contact phone number, and current email)
  • Education – name of the school and subjects studied (include results here especially if they’re exceptionally good)
  • Previous experience (don’t forget to include any work experience placements or voluntary work)
  • Your skills
  • Awards and achievements
  • A few of your hobbies and interests
  • References – it’s a good idea to list one or two referees that you’d be happy for potential employers to contact

For references, you can list former teachers, employers or mentors. You’ll need to check with them that they’re OK with you using them as a reference first, then provide their name, position, company, and contact details. Otherwise, you can just write “references available on request” – but still have some in mind and check they’re fine with you giving out their details.

Simplicity is key

Content is the most important part of your resume. Unless you’re looking for a job in design, how it looks probably doesn’t matter.

Do:

  • Keep the format simple but professional
  • Be brief and keep it easy to read
  • List only relevant information
  • Be honest
  • Use the same font throughout, as well as bullet points and well-defined headers

Don’t:

  • Use crazy designs or colours
  • Ramble
  • Exaggerate experience or outright lie
  • Use abbreviations or slang

Always triple check

Resumes that are poorly written, full of typos, or contain spelling and grammatical errors will not be well received. In fact, that’s another way they’ll be weeded out from the ‘potential’ pile to the ‘no’ pile, and you don’t want that.

So before you send out your resume anywhere:

  • Use your spell and grammar check.
  • Save any changes.
  • Walk away and do something else for a few hours, then come back and re-read your resume and edit any mistakes.
  • Read it out loud, slowly. This is a really effective way of making sure it reads well to someone else and not just how you think it will read.
  • Give it to parents, a teacher, or friends to cast their eye over. They might have some valuable suggestions or spot any mistakes you’ve missed.

Need help creating a professional resume?

If you’re still not confident that you can create a professional looking resume, we’ve created the Super Simple Resume Builder to help you get started. Just answer the questions in the fields provided, and the builder will email you a professional resume in PDF format; all you need to do is write a cover letter, send it off, and hopefully start working.

You can also find heaps of other resume writing and job searching tips on our website here.

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