Writing résumés and applications

Most employers and businesses that have a vacancy will request that you send through a cover letter, résumé, and, in some cases, respond to key selection criteria to apply.


A résumé contains a summary of your career objectives, skills, education and experience, and is usually the employer’s first impression of you. It is a self-promotional document that presents you in the best possible light for the purpose of securing a job inteview. It is not, in itself, an application, nor is it a confessional. It's not just about past jobs. It's about you, and how you performed and what you accomplished in those past jobs— especially those accomplishments that are most relevant to the work you want to do next. An attention-getting resume must be targeted, to the point, and must clearly identify your training and licences. Focus on skills and accomplishments with specific attention to actual results.

Language of résumés

The résumé must have impact and flair. What you say is important, but how you say it is just as important. An excellent method is to use action verbs to highlight your training and skills. It is one thing to say that you have a particular skill; it is another to proclaim that you have excelled in its performance.

Résumés are not literary; they are promotional. The rules of grammar are modified from formal writing. Complete sentences are not necessary.

Avoid the use of "I”, as the subject of the résumé is assumed to be the person named in the heading of the résumé. Use lots of bullets and key phrases.

The résumé should draw the reader's attention and create a desire to know more. The goal is to win an interview. It is at the interview that the job is won. The résumé is like a preview of coming attractions; you want to save the best for the presentation.

Content of résumés
Career Summary

The summary explains in a few lines who you are and summarises your credentials, skills, attributes and qualifications for particular positions. The summary is usually two paragraphs, each of two to three lines in length.

Personal Data

Your name, complete mailing address, telephone number(s) with area code and email address are all the personal data required.

Work history

Employment experience from most recent to least, including the name of the company, your job title, tenure there, and the responsibilities of the post.

Professional Development

Include details of any relevant training courses that you have attended.


Unless you are a recent graduate, your education should be placed toward the end of the résumé. List only education that is significant to your job search. There is no need to list high school education if you have further formal qualifications.

Other Activities

It is up to you whether you list only those activities that relate to your occupational goal and show skill or experience or whether you try to paint a fuller picture of who you are. Listing religious or political affiliations may not work to your advantage. Volunteering and work experience may be beneficial.


Professional or character referees may be offered or you may offer “referees upon request”.

Cover letter

A cover letter will demonstrate who you are, your skills and experience and why you are suitable for the role. The goal of a cover letter is to get the employer to read your résumé and judge how suitable you are for an interview.

  • Include the date, your name and contact details so your cover letter and résumé can be reunited
  • Tailor the cover letter to the company address, or at least add the name of the person you are sending it too.
  • Don't use a generic cover letter that you have sent to other companies as the recruiter will know
  • Use good spelling and grammar, get someone else to check it if possible
  • Acknowledge the job requirements and mention how you match them in your letter
  • Provide your contact details so the employer can contact you to arrange an interview

Responses to key selection criteria

Key selection criteria (KSC) are used within recruitment to determine the most accurate match between the skills of the applicant and the requirements of the position. Areas of government, health and not-forprofit organisations may require applicants to respond to KSC as part of the recruitment process.

  • Include the key selection criteria on a separate word document, ensure it has a title and reference to the job title and reference number.
  • Also include your name and the page number, so the employer can keep your documents together.
  • Answer/respond to each criteria with an example of what you have done in your past job roles.
  • Use the STAR method to assist you in responding to each criterion
  • Preparing for interviews
STAR method

The STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) provides you with a structured way to respond to key selection criteria as well as provide you with a method to answer a question asked in a behavioural based interview.

  • Situation Describe the situation/environment you were in.
  • Task What did you need to accomplish to deal with the situation? What was your role concerning the problem, issue or assignment?
  • Action What did you do? Set out the steps you took to resolve the situation.
  • Result What was the outcome? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Promote yourself and your achievements.

Criterion or interview prompt Excellent planning and organisational skills

I have developed excellent planning and organisational skills through my part-time job as an event assistant at Acme Events.

  • Situation In this role I am responsible for booking staff to set up marquees at private functions.
  • Task To perform this job I need to identify all jobs booked for that day; calculate how many staff will be needed to set up each event, and ensure that there is sufficient time to set up each event by the time required.
  • Action Recently, I had a problem with 2 staff members reporting in sick on the day of a big event. Fortunately, I had developed a back-up plan to cater for unexpected situations and I was able to call on un-rostered staff to come into work.
  • Result As a result, there was no disruption to the setting up for the event, and my supervisor commended my actions in responding to the situation promptly and efficiently.