Job tips and resources
Need some help writing your resume or cover letter? Unsure about how to succeed in an interview? What should you do if you are made redundant?
These job seeker tips cover various aspects of applying for a job and getting through the interview. We have also included useful information about making the best of redundancy.
Preparing a resume
Your resume summarises your education and work experience. It tells employers or recruitment agencies how your skills and experience make you the best person for the job.
Your resume must be neatly typed. It should clearly address the key selection criteria – the main skills and experience – required for the job. These criteria should be listed in a position description available from the employer.
If you are applying for several jobs you might have two or more different resumes, highlighting specific skills or experience applicable to specific jobs.
Your resume should be concise, no more than two or three pages. Make sure you:
- update your resume regularly
- get someone to check your spelling and grammar
- print only on white paper and on one side without any coloured or shaded text
- use underlining, capitals, text centring or bold font to emphasise headings, job titles and previous employers
- use short statements set out as points, like this list
- include relevant volunteering, part-time, casual or temporary work but never lie about your experience
- always put your name on each page and make sure pages are numbered.
Writing a cover letter
Each job application needs a cover letter. This letter briefly introduces you and your resume. Large companies might be advertising several different positions so the cover letter lets them know which job you want. The cover letter is a great way to make a good first impression. It should be written in a positive tone and include:
- your name, address, contact details and the date
- name and address of the organisation
- a contact name – use “Dear Sir or Madam” if you don’t have a contact name
- the position and any reference number for the job you are applying for
- a brief summary of your skills, experience, knowledge and abilities detailed in your resume
- a sentence at the end thanking the reader for considering your application
- ‘Yours sincerely’ at the end if you are writing to a specific person or ‘Yours faithfully’ if you don’t know the name of the person
Always check spelling and grammar.
Good planning will boost your confidence for a job interview.
Before you go to the interview:
- confirm the date, the position – you might have applied for more than one job with a company – and the name of your interviewer
- find out as much as you can about the company. An internet search of company brochures, annual reports, media stories and the mission statement will show your interviewer that you are enthusiastic
- examine your personal strengths and weaknesses, your accomplishments and future goals
- think about why you would be an ideal employee and possible questions you might ask if you were doing the interviewing
- prepare great answers and practice them in front of a mirror
- get a contact number in case of a problem on the day
On the day of the interview:
- know exactly where the interview is happening and how long it takes to get there; a practice trip might help. Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early
- make eye contact, speak politely and smile at reception and HR staff
- dress appropriately and look tidy and clean
- be confident and believe you are the right person for the job
- speak from experience whenever you can
Effective presentation means looking the part, dressing appropriately for the job with the organisation and the industry and presenting yourself in a professional manner. Appearance counts so make sure you:
- play it safe and go for classic or conservative styles and colours
- avoid extremes of appearance or fashion statements
- wear clothes that are clean, neat, well-pressed and brushed
- polish your shoes
- carry smart, clean and professional looking bags and briefcases
- wear classic and understated make-up and jewellery
- avoid overpowering perfume, cologne or after-shave
- keep your hair and nails clean and neat.
First impressions are often the strongest. When you arrive, state clearly who you are and who you are there to see. Be polite and professional with everyone you encounter before and after the interview. Interviewers often get feedback from other staff. You should also:
- shake hands with a firm handshake and a smile on greeting and farewell
- don’t sit down until you are asked to do so
- don’t chew gum or smoke. If you smoke just before the interview the smell on your clothes and breath will put some employers off
- don’t drink alcohol, even if the interview is over a meal
- remember the interviewers names — write them down to help your memory
- make sure you are on time or preferably, 10 to 15 minutes early
- practise questions and answers at home
- give as much notice as you can if you have to change arrangements or if you are running late
Body language communicates messages about your energy, interest, capabilities and confidence. You can create the illusion of confidence – even if you are nervous – by:
- adopting good posture when sitting, standing and walking
- avoiding fidgeting
- maintaining appropriate eye contact with interviewers. If it is a panel interview alternate your gaze between the interviewers
- including everybody in eye contact when answering questions
- listening carefully
- smiling and being yourself
If you are made redundant by your employer you should:
- register with Centrelink straight away to assess your eligibility for financial assistance. Even though you may not think you need immediate financial assistance, you may be eligible to receive some immediate support
- meet with an employment services provider to help you get a job if you are eligible for financial assistance from Centrelink
- speak to a Centrelink Financial Information Officer who is available to provide independent and general financial advice. You can discuss how or whether your Centrelink payments are affected by your redundancy payout and future requirements
- keep your redundancy letter or letter of separation and provide it to Centrelink
- keep a copy of the redundancy letter or letter of separation and present it to the employment services provider that Centrelink has referred you to. It may enable you to access the full range of employment services specific to redundant workers
- seek professional help to write a resume
- take advantage of all the services your employer has offered to you as part of your redundancy including outplacement support and professional career advice. These can really help in getting your next job
- take some time to think about your career opportunities and options
- take advantage of ‘Help for workers who have recently lost their job’.
Employment services providers including WISE help job seekers and redundant workers to get jobs. We offer a range of support services such as training, resume advice and interview tips.