Writing a resume
A resume is a summary of your personal history and qualities. It is your marketing tool in searching for a job, and needs to be succinct and punchy to create an impact on the reader.
What should you include?
• Name, address, phone numbers, email address.
• It is not necessary to include details relating to your age, nationality, race, religion, sex, or marital status.
This is an optional section which can be very powerful if worded effectively. A brief and strong statement outlining the type of role and organisation you are looking for.
• For each course of study, indicate the date, institution, and name of course. Include details of secondary and tertiary studies, listing the most recent first.
• Do not list your results for each subject in this section, but be sure to attach your academic records.
• Include a brief outline of your involvement in extra-curricular activities at school and university, particularly highlighting the use/development of certain skills (eg, leadership, presentation, co-ordination).
• Do not include too many activities in this section — list only the strongest and most relevant for the role.
• For each role, indicate date, organisation and the role you fulfilled. Include a few bullet points outlining the responsibilities and your significant achievements in each role — be careful to keep these points relevant and punchy.
• This section is to articulate any skills which may not have been highlighted in other sections of your resume. Write a short list of your strongest personal skills (six to eight points).
• It is important to include four to eight points on your interests outside work and study, to give the employer an idea of who you are and what you like doing.
• Include a listing of two to three people who can be contacted for a reference check on your character or work you have performed.
• In the case of firms that are accepting applications electronically, ensure that your academic record details are entered accurately.
How should you present your resume?
As your resume is your marketing tool, present it in your own style.
• Follow a logical structure — the points above provide a good guide.
• Use bullet points.
• Check your spelling, grammar and punctuation very carefully, and then ask someone else to check also.
• Format your resume so that the text is well spaced and there is a good amount of “white space”.
• Pay careful attention to the formatting of headings and ensure that your style is consistent.
Writing a covering letter
Your covering letter is your chance to convince the employer of your excellent written communication skills. The purpose of the letter should be to introduce yourself and clearly state what you have to offer the organisation.
Below are a few tips to help you in planning and drafting a covering letter.
• Before you start writing, it is important to plan your covering letter. Think carefully and make notes of key messages you would like to convey in the letter. The key messages should underpin why you are suitable for the role. For example, identify strong points to make about your personal qualities, skills, experience, academic achievement or your work/life experience.
• Tailor your letter to each organisation. Make reference to the firm you are applying to and why. Make sure you find out about the organisation and the qualities they look for in employees, and make reference to aspects which are interesting to you. For example, the areas of practice which appeal to you, values and culture of the organisation, partners or CEO whom you have read about or met who have impressed you.
• Ensure that you set the letter out in the style of business correspondence. This means including the date and addressee details at the top left, including the contact name, position and address of the organisation. List your details at the top right including your name, address, phone numbers and email address.
• It is a good idea to include a heading which states the purpose of the letter. This should appear in bold upper case as the first line of your letter. Remember to include the year in which you would like to commence the clerkship. (eg. APPLICATION FOR SEASONAL CLERKSHIP 2004)
• Avoid restating information in your resume in the same language again in the letter. Instead, include highlights from your resume, illustrating how this information is relevant to the role you are applying for. Include other crucial information which was not in your resume.
• Be original with your letter in terms of content and style — do not copy example letters, as common and overused phrases and expressions are easily recognisable.
• Write in a style which is clear and simple
• Keep your letter to one page. If it is longer than one page, then you are probably giving too much detail.