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Résumé Do’s and Don’ts – Part 1

Things To Consider When Making A Job Application
Johanna Milbank
Written by Johanna Milbank

At DOME we see all types of résumés. Good ones and bad ones. So what makes a good resume?

Many different people and organisations have their own opinions about what a good résumé looks like. You can ask different people and get a variety of responses.

What matters is what works for you. One indication that your resume is not working is if you are not getting called up for interviews. So what things can you do to your résumé to entice employers to give you a call?

First and foremost – your résumé should not be more than 3 pages long (between 2 to 3 pages is ideal), clearly laid out and succinct and when someone picks it up, should grab their attention within 7 seconds. i.e. the first page should provide a prospective employer with the basic information they want to see for the role they are hiring for. Remember, you will most likely be competing with a pile of 50 or more other résumés and a manager with very little time to sit and read every letter on every page. If they can’t see the basics of what they need in that first glance your résumé will most likely head to the bottom of the pile or worse the bin!

Second – There is a fine line between too little and too much information. Too little and the employer thinks you don’t have what they want. Too much and you will overwhelm them with irrelevant information. A record of a job you did 20 odd years ago in a totally different area is irrelevant. Leave it out. The trick is to put enough information into the résumé so that they want to ask you more questions i.e. get you in for an interview. That’s your opening to really sell yourself.

Third – Contact details. Always make sure these are current and include name, email and phone details. If you don’t have an email, get one! And check it regularly. There is no excuses for not having an email these days. Also, only use an email that has no offensive words. Not having an email shows you are not even up with technology and offensive words don’t cut it in a workplace, it just isn’t professional.

Address – There are pros and cons for putting you physical address on your resume. Where most communication is done by email and not snail mail an address is not really necessary these days. Leaving it out might raise suspicions or questions as to why it is not included, leaving it in (especially if you live a great distance from the prospective job) might disadvantage you. In a regional area it is an advantage as employers often like to employ local people. Take each circumstance individually and decide what suits.


  • Unless you are in the creative industries (think graphic designer) forget the fancy writing, boarders, images and layouts. Keep it clean, clear and simple with plenty of white space.
  • Selling yourself – Your top page needs to capture the attention of the reader with what they are looking for – quick summary (short paragraph only) of your work history, qualifications, top skills and what you are looking for in your work relative to the job you are applying for. Follow this with dot point lists of your Top Attributes, Skills and computer programs (if relevant).
  • Data – The next section is for the data. That is your:
    • Work History (role, employer and when you worked for them),
    • Qualifications (title of qualification, Institute/Training Organisation and year of completion),
    • Training (course title, training organisation, year).

What you can also leave out is a description of what you did or studied against each role or qualification. Ideally these skills should already be captured and summarised in your attributes and skills in the first section. Above all avoid duplication and repetition of information. Remember you want them to come back and ask you more questions. Don’t give them too much.

  • Referees – Always include referees. Employers want to know that you have them. In most cases they will always check with you before they contact them. If you need to change one you can do so then. If you are concerned about sharing someone’s private contact information, the vast majority of business contact details are public knowledge otherwise businesses would not function very well. Before you put someone down as a referee always check with them that they are happy for you to list them.
  • What else to include? – If it is not relevant to the job you can leave it out, but if it adds value and shows your knowledge and abilities, and demonstrates current history, keep it in.
    • Volunteering – List your volunteering history in the same format as for your work history. If it is relevant to the job you are applying for it could be included in your Work History. Volunteering includes helping to coach your son’s soccer team or helping out at the school canteen. This is all work and it shows you are active.

Boards and Networks (paid and voluntary) – even if it was the School Governing body it all counts. List the Board/Network position, Name of body and duration of your time with them.

To get some tips about age proofing your resume – See

Résumé Do’s and Don’ts – Part 2 Age Proofing your Resume

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Johanna Milbank

Johanna Milbank

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