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You are your resume

November 15, 2019 by Susan Surgener

You are your resume

Students come to see us about resumes. A lot! So, what’s the fuss?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a resume as simply:
“a short written description of your education, qualifications, previous jobs, and sometimes also your personal interests, that you send to an employer when you are trying to get a job.”

Still, for most students it’s not that simple! Especially when chasing a job at the last minute! There are lots of worries about getting the layout just right and what should go where. Which is all good and well, but there really are only two hard and fast rules on the layout – your contact details go at the top and your referees go at the bottom!

What happens in between depends a lot on you, the position you are applying for or the position/field you are aiming for, and you again!

When you’re creating your resume, you’re unpacking a great deal.  It takes time to get it just right. Start with getting the basics down first e.g.  Education, Employment, Related Experience, Voluntary Work, Professional Development or Professional Memberships, Extra-curricular Engagement, Leisure and Interests.

Don’t forget to include specific timelines e.g. dates. This is particularly handy if you are also faced with an online application form in place of a resume.


2017 – Present        Degree title      Institution

2016    Western Australian Certificate of Education


March 2019 – Present  Position Title      Organisation

June 10 – July 10          Position Title      Organisation

Once you’ve selected your resume headings and sorted your timeline, that’s where the creativity and deeper thinking needs to come into play.

Change your focus
In the early stages of resume creation, there are two main areas where students commonly get things wrong.

Students often don’t:

  1. Take the time to ‘self-reflect’ i.e. are not really thinking about what they actually do and what they’re good at
  2. Think about the type of job they are equipped for or what skills and qualities an employer might be looking for.

And, this is the important stuff. This is the stuff that takes even more time than the headache of getting your dates right!

Don’t forget, not everyone has the same university experience and how you document your Education, Employment and Experience etc., will differ. And, that’s fine! Just take the time to concentrate on yourself.

To make it easier, simply start looking at job advertisements in areas of interest. Do your skills and qualities match what an employer is looking for? If not, how are you going to fill the gaps?  Start documenting your skills and qualities, for example:

  • Excellent interpersonal skills; one year of customer service in a busy retail environment
  • Advanced Adobe Photoshop with intermediate CSS skills

A good resume is a continual work in progress. Once you have documented your skills – discipline specific, generic and technical, you can easily add and amend. This allows you to quickly produce a resume that is clearly targeted towards a role or a specific field.

Finally, don’t worry about what others are doing.

One thing about resumes is every resume will be unique. Why? Because you are unique!

We are always on hand to help Curtin students out with any job application assistance. We have some great online modules via our Challenge platform, we have handy resources on all elements of resume and cover letter creation via UniHub and, if you want the personal touch, we run workshops and offer drop-in assistance on online resume submissions for feedback.  

We will also be running our end of semester Graduate Gateway, starting next week.

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