Career

Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright @ Australian Catholic University 1998-2018 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G
Student using computer

How to write a résumé that gets results


If you’ve been sending out your résumé without success, a little fine-tuning (or perhaps a complete overhaul) is in order. “Recruiters will, on average, spend less than two minutes reading a CV,” said Professor Jim Bright, who is an internationally renowned career development professional and professor in career education and development at ACU. “Succeed and your résumé goes into the ‘yes’ pile for the next stage of hiring and interviews.” 

Here’s what might be wrong with your résumé – and how to get it right.

Tailor made

Sending out the same résumé to apply for every job is tempting, but you’re really doing yourself a disservice.

“Resumes should be tailored precisely to the job requirements set out in the advertisement or position description. Do your research,” said Professor Bright.

Take a close look at each job ad to identify which key words and phrases they’ve used to describe their ideal candidate. Then scan the employer’s website and company LinkedIn profile to gain more clues about their current employees and learn what skills their potential hires should possess. Use your résumé to highlight your capabilities that are most relevant to the role. Just keep an original master copy of your résumé on hand so you can refer back to it and save a new tailored version for each application.

Creative differences

Unless you’re applying for a design role where adding a little artistic flair to your résumé is appropriate, if not expected, a professional CV that gets results isn’t full of over-the-top fonts and crazy colours. HR professionals, recruiters and hiring managers are expert résumé scanners who have thousands of job applications landing in their inbox – what you call eye catching, they call distracting.

The ACU Career Development Service team says your résumé is an example of your ability to convey written information in a document – and employers will look at your formatting as well as grammar when deciding who’s in and who’s out for interviewing.

“Resumes should be set out on A4-size pages using the Verdana font. Research shows this is the most readable and preferred font overall. Interestingly, Times New Roman font is read quickly but was least preferred. Go figure,” adds Professor Bright.

Also, minimise colours, avoid fanciful borders and let your experience and qualifications do the heavy lifting. Think simple, clean and professional.

Social status

Including links to your social media profiles on your résumé isn’t always a bad idea, it just depends on the type of role you’re interested in. If you’re pursuing a social media job, it could be worth sharing your Twitter handle to demonstrate your knowledge of the platform. 

Or if you’re seeking a position in the creative industries and you have a carefully curated Instagram feed that’s relevant to the role, then it’s definitely a valuable addition to your résumé. Just use your common sense – aspiring lawyers, social workers or accountants, for example, won’t be quizzed on their mastery of Facebook Live. If social media expertise plays no part in the job you’re applying for, leave those links out.

Expert eyes

Drafting an impeccable résumé can be tricky, but help is on hand. ACU’s Career Development Service in the Office of Student Success will check your résumés and cover letters for free. Most importantly, this service is available to students for two years after graduation. If you’re still chasing your first job offer or need help transitioning to a new position, make sure you submit your résumé for review online via acu.careerhub.com.au 

Cast a spell

Lastly, the best piece of advice you could ever receive for your résumé: spellcheck. Résumés are the type of document that you look at over and over again, and your eyes tend to skim right by mistakes with every read. Professor Bright advises that attention to detail is a critical skill for any graduate and employers love to look at mistake-free résumés.

“We found that even one spelling mistake or typo can reduce your chance of being shortlisted by 50 per cent,” he said. Once you’ve refined your résumé and completed your edits, running a spellcheck should be the very last thing you do before you click send.  

For more information about how ACU is here to support your success, speak to our careers team or head to our YouTube channel for more resume tips.  

Professor Jim Bright is a professor in career education and development at ACU and the best-selling author of How to write a Brilliant CV, Brilliant Graduate CV and You’re Hired! Job Hunting Online.

Jim Bright

Related stories

Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright @ Australian Catholic University 1998-2018 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G