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CV preparation tips

Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume is often the first impression that your future employer will receive of you so don’t underestimate the importance of this document. There are a few basic rules to follow. If you get the dream job, the investment of time will have been more than worth it!

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  • Keep the layout simple. Stick to the one, simple, business like font and be sparing with your use of bold, italics and other flourishes.
  • White space is important. For busy employers, bullet points are much easier to read than blocks of text in paragraphs. Be succinct and to the point.
  • Your professional work history should be in reverse chronological order. If you have had several jobs over the years, only include detail on the most recent ones in the last 10 years. You can summarise the previous jobs and include “further information available upon request”.

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  • Don’t assume that your employer knows what your tasks have been – the recruiting manager might not be in the same profession. Flesh out some detail of your most recent jobs. Highlight any particular achievements in your work experience.
  • Include your tertiary education details and any courses and professional development you have completed recently. Only graduates should consider including information on school and grades achieved at University.
  • If you have presented at conferences or are involved in a research project, include this. Keep content in your CV to relevant, professional and recent accomplishments.
  • Don’t over-embellish your CV, stick to the truth and you won’t get caught out at the interview.
  • Explain any breaks you have had in your career e.g. for travel, study, child rearing etc.
  • Do include your full name and contact details plus a phone number and/or email address where you will be readily contactable. It is no longer expected that you include details such as gender, age, marital status, religion, ethnicity or health. This personal information is not relevant to your ability to do the job. 

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  • Give careful consideration to your referees.
  • Always ask your referee beforehand if they are willing to provide a professional reference for you. Your referee should, ideally, be someone that you have reported to recently and who can comment on your professional skills and experience.
  • When asked for referee details, it’s best to provide the name, position, professional relationship to you and phone and email contact. Make it easy for the busy employer and demonstrate your own confidence and professionalism.

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Application and cover letter

  • Make sure you have received a copy of the advertisement as well as the full job description. If you are genuinely interested in the job, call the contact point on the ad and introduce yourself and make sure you gain an understanding of what the employer is seeking and use that in your application.
  • If you are asked to complete an application make sure you complete the entire form to the best of your ability. People have disqualified themselves from jobs by not paying attention to this detail or by not adequately addressing the selection criteria.
  • If you are required to address selection criteria (almost all jobs in health require this), keep your answers to 1 paragraph or maximum 2 short paragraphs. A useful way to address a criterion is to provide an example that illustrates how you meet it– e.g. Criterion: “demonstrated commitment to WHS principles” Answer “member of the WHS Committee at XYZ Hospital; identified xyz safety concern and followed up with the introduction and implementation of a procedure to address this.”

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More tips

  • Ask someone else to proofread your resume. Spelling mistakes and bad grammar create a very poor impression.
  • Keep your CV up to date over the years and keep revising it. It can be difficult to suddenly sit down and try to capture what you have achieved in the last 10 years. You are likely to forget some great achievements or challenges you overcame.
  • SEEK guide to writing a resume

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