Australian Resumé for Migrants

If your Resumé isn’t getting you interviews, the chances it hasn’t been changed to suit what Australian employers want. Even though many jobs are never advertised, it is vital to have an up to date Resumé ready to adapt to a particular employer. When a job is advertised, you must have a Resumé.  It’s also a great way for you to articulate and build knowledge of your own skills.

Before we start, imagine you run a business, you have a product (your skills & abilities) and  you have customers (the employers).  Job application documents are just one part of your marketing strategy and must have the customer as the focus.  Always ask yourself, “What will entice them to buy my skills?” AND “Can they see I match the job within 10seconds?”

Key differences between an Aussie Resumé and ones that work overseas.

  1. Australia is generally a skills based culture as opposed to a class based culture. This means that most Australian employers focus on your skills and experience more than the level of qualification, grades, masters or the status of the institution you studied at.  Exceptions to this are some Government Departments, Universities, some legal and accounting firms, and many Graduate Program jobs – where qualifications and grade point average are the focus.
  2. We tend to follow American recruitment practices so our Resumés are short, concise and only contain information relevant to a particular job and often specific employer. 1 to 2 pages ideal, 3 maximum. (note Resumés are getting shorter as employers have less time and will rely more on social media technology like LinkedIn to find future employees)
  3. An Australian Resumé is not a history of your work, but a marketing brochure for what you offer the employer AND what issues you can solve for the employer. The employer will spend 10 – 30 seconds on the first viewing to decide if you are a ‘possible candidate’ or a ‘delete now candidate’.
  4. Different industries prefer different styles of Resumé.  An accounting Resumé will be quite different to a graphic designer’s Resumé.  Talk with your industry in Australia and ask for feedback on your Resumé.
  5. Local experience is valued in Australia. This is a common filter to reject job applications.  As most new migrants won’t have local experience, it’s best to use a ‘functional’ or ‘skills based’ Resumé style to highlight the skills first then show where you have applied the skills.
  6. Overseas referees. Australian employers rarely ring overseas referees. Utilise your LinkedIn page to show ‘Recommendations’ from overseas managers, colleagues or clients.
  7. Local referees.  Australian employers highly value local referees. If you haven’t worked in Australia (or in the State in which you are looking for work), volunteer. (Google search volunteer organisations in your State)
  8. The title Resumé and CV (Curriculum Vitae) now mean the same thing in Australia.

So what should be included in an Australian Resumé? 

There are many designs that you can find online and that Resumé writers use. Ultimately, employers want to quickly find a person that ‘fits’ with what they want. So, really it’s all about them. There is no one style that is correct, however knowing why you present information will help you decide what is best for you.  Here are some key headings to include:

Name – larger font and bold. If you have a very long first name that may be difficult for an English speaker to pronounce, consider a shorter version.  You want the employer to feel comfortable calling you.

Contact details – You don’t need titles for each item here like ‘Address:’ in front of your address information. See the Resumé examples for how to present this info.

Heading –  You need a quick way to get the reader’s attention. This can be styled in a number of ways, such as:-

  • Career Profile or Career Summary– [can be a summary of your experience or a professional title or key strengths that you offer that relate to the job]  Do not put your career objective.  Remember this is all about what you offer and matching what the employer wants.  It can also be what motivates you in relation to the job.
  • Brand description or Pitch. This can be a two or three words heading with short description of particular skills, motivations or personal traits that fit the job/employer.
  • Key Strengths heading. This can be key points that make you stand out from other applicants. These words can be separated by straight lines or symbols.

Skills and Abilities – This heading is particularly useful for those with limited experience as you can still show you have the skills that match the job.  Otherwise you can provide details of particular skills and how you used them in your Experience heading.  Which ever you choose, it must be easy for the employer to read the skills you offer on the first page of your Resumé.

Experience – rather than ’employment history’. Volunteer work can be just as important as paid work in Australia.  If you have substantial overseas experience, you may wish to have two headings, one for ‘Relevant Experience’ and another for ‘Other Experience’ that does not specifically relate to your profession.  Show your achievements rather than just a list of duties.

For examples of Functional or Skills Based Resumés, see:-

Sample one  |  Sample two

Understanding what you offer can be difficult.  This is where industry contacts or a career professional can help you understand what your skills mean in Australia.  If you’re not getting interviews, then you know it’s either your Resumé or the jobs you are choosing that needs changing.

Remember: a Resumé is only one part of your job success strategy. In Western Australia, most new migrants find success with networking rather than hoping to get through Human Resources filters.

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