How to Write a CV or Resume

A good CV or resume is essential when competing for a job.

We'll show you how to write an effective resume and application cover letter.

Guide to resume writing

Our guide will help you write a resume that is:

  1. simple and flexible (so you can use it as a template for many years ahead);
  2. is easily read by employers (which is crucial for getting shortlisted);
  3. contains all the essential information; and
  4. presents you in a good light (so recruiters will want to meet you).

You can (i) use a template or (ii) start from scratch with a new Word document.

Resumes are normally 1 page but can be 2.

Let's have a look at each of the main sections.

1. Name and contact details

The top section of a resume has your name and contact info.

  • Your name is the title/header of the CV or resume.
  • Contact details are written in a small font
  • List your LinkedIn profile if it looks good.

See more: Contact section

2. Education section

The education and qualifications section comes next.

  • Make the qualification title (e.g. Diploma of Business) prominent.
  • Further details should be concise and accurate.
  • Consider including supporting information, such as projects.

See more: Education section

3. Experience

The experience section is where you detail your work history.

  • Focus on experience that is job relevant.
  • Select information you want the recruiter to know.
  • Write a story that shows you are a good fit for the job.

See more: Experience section

4. Cover letter

A cover letter personalises any job application.

  • Quickly introduce yourself.
  • Describe your background.
  • Pitch your case in a paragraph or two.

See more: Cover letter

Quick tutorial on resume writing

Resume versus CV?

The definitions of resume and CV vary by country.

We prefer resume.

  • Resume is generally understood to refer to a concise (1 to 2 page) document.
  • This is the most common document in recruitment.
  • A CV (curriculum vitae) can mean the same thing. However, it is more associated with recruitment in academia, where researchers list publications. 

Country definition differences

  • United States: people generally uses resume and save CV for long resumes (especially those for academic positions)
  • United Kingdom: people use CV almost exclusively
  • In some other countries, such as Australia, the terms are used interchangeably and essentially mean the same thing.

What about extra sections?

You may want to add extra sections to your resume. But be careful about this.

  • It is usually best to stick to the 3 standard sections: contact info, education and experience.
  • They can usually accommodate all essential information.

Why extra sections can cause problems

Extra sections make your resume longer and less focused. They reduce white space and might be ignored.

Sections you may come across often don't add value.

  • A summary section is taken care of by the cover letter.
  • An objective statement is risky and unlikely to help you get shortlisted.
  • Talking about your interests is usually more useful at the interview stage.
  • Naming referees can also wait until later in the selection process.

When extra sections are useful

Extra sections can be useful for adding content if you have a short education and work history.

They are also handy in job fields where there are long lists to report, such as publications and completed works.

Woman using a computer at a desk to write a resume.