FAQs about Resumes

What’s the difference between a resume and a CV (Curriculum Vitae)?

For the most part, there is little difference and the terms are used interchangeably by many employers. If a distinction is to be made, it is generally in terms of length and the amount of detail – resumes are shorter and contain less detail. A CV could be considered a full description of your skills and work history; a resume may be shorter and tailored to highlight only the information relevant to the job which you are applying for.

Should I include a photo?

The general consensus of resume and recruitment experts is ‘no’, unless you are specifically asked to do so.

Should I include a cover page?

Cover pages are not necessary and waste paper. You also do not need to include the words ‘Resume’ or ‘CV’ at the top of your document, as the purpose is usually self-evident.

Can I make my resume stand out by using colour or graphics?

Yes, this will make your resume stand out, but usually for the wrong reasons! Stick to black font on white paper, and avoid using borders, clip art or other graphics for a clean and simple layout. The only exception may be where graphic design is an important part of the role you are applying for.

What font is best?

Standard fonts such as Arial or Calibri are very readable and present a clean, uncluttered look. Whatever font you choose, use it consistently through your documents. Do not switch fonts for headings – use bold or underline (not both) for titles or emphasis.

Do I include a list of my hobbies or interests?

There are only two instances where it is a good idea to include hobbies, sporting achievements or interests. The first is where you have at least one very impressive hobby or sporting achievement, such as captaining a winning team or sailing solo around the world. The second is where the activity is directly relevant to the role you are applying for. Otherwise, leave them out.

Do I include my referees?

If specifically asked to do so, then yes. Otherwise, you may leave them out or indicate in your cover letter that details can be supplied if requested. If you have an influential or high profile person as a referee who may be seen as adding to your credentials, it may be useful to include their details but this can sometimes backfire, depending on the person.

How long should my resume be?

Aim for 2-3 pages maximum, leaving plenty of white space on each page.

Do I include every job I have ever had?

A good rule of thumb is to only include jobs you have held in the last 10 years. Prospective employers are most interested in your recent experience. If you have relevant experience that is more than 10 years ago, summarise the information. For example ‘Pre 2005 – Various retail sales roles’. It is also useful to avoid including a string of entry-level roles that have no relevance to the current position.

Do I need a cover letter?

A cover letter is essential! Every cover letter must be tailored to the job which you are applying for, even if just in the name of the role, organisation and the person it is addressed to. Not preparing a cover letter indicates a lack of effort. It also means you lose a valuable opportunity to sell yourself and highlight key points that will enhance your application. If applying online, attach a cover letter in MS Word format. Do not type or paste text into online fields unless there is no other option – the resulting text files are very difficult to read.

Who do I address my cover letter to?

A cover letter should be addressed to the person named in the job advert or other information about the job. If no name is given, try to find out the name of the person by ringing and asking. If you do not know the name, use ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ or Dear Recruitment Manager. Avoid using ‘To whom it may concern’ as it is very impersonal.

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