Writing an Australian Cover Letter and Resume for Work and Holiday Visa

Australia Job Cover Letter and Resume
Letters in the State Library of Victoria

The goal of a resume and a cover letter is to get you an interview for a job. You need to demonstrate to employers that you are worth considering for a position. You’ll need to showcase your skills, experience and suitability for the job role.

Where you are applying for work has a large impact on what makes a resume and cover letter stand out. We’ll be focusing on tailoring your resume and cover letter to impress Australian employers.

Crafting an Australian Resume/CV

I highly recommend updating your resume before you arrive in Australia. Technically, you’ll be writing a Curriculum Vitae (CV), which is very similar to a resume. Though the two terms are often used interchangeably in job descriptions.

An Australian CV is more comprehensive than a U.S. resume. Rather than keeping your resume to a single page, you’ll want to include about 2-4 pages worth of information. Employers like to see details about your work experience, academic standing and skills.

However, don’t include irrelevant information, like hobbies and interests, to make your CV longer. And, of course, only include information that is true. Your CV should be achievement based to demonstrate your suitability for the position. The goal is to convince the employer that you will be an exceptional asset.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to have more than one CV on hand. Consider what positions you will be applying for, and shape your CV to highlight the skills and experience you have that are most applicable to the job you will be applying for.

I created a few different CV templates for journalism, administrative and education jobs. I would then alter my career overview and key strengths based on the position.

Curriculum Vitae Layout

Keep the layout of your CV streamlined and simple. Remember that the content of your CV is more important than the presentation. The font should be easy to read. Avoid cursive or script fonts. Rather, keep it classic with 10-12 point Times New Roman or Arial.

Also avoid colors and keep bullet points consistent. Format your document to size A4, which is the standard paper size in Australia. Here’s what your CV should include:

Contact Details

Place your contact details centered at the top of the page. Include your name, address, phone number and email address. I recommend writing your name a few font sizes larger than the other information provided in your CV. Be sure that your name, number and email are in the footer or header on each page of your CV, along with the page number. Also ensure that you use a professional email, ideally with some variation of your name.

Career Overview

This is where you give a brief summary of your work experience and accomplishments. This will provide the reader with a quick preview of what he or she will see in your CV. The overview should be written as a single paragraph, including about 3-6 sentences. Avoid frivolous statements by making sure each sentence contains factual information about your work history.

Example:
Experienced Customer Service Supervisor with more than 10 years of experience in managing a team of 10-25 people. Recognized for increasing customer satisfaction ratings by 15%. Ample experience in recruiting, hiring and training Customer Service Representatives.

Key Strengths

What are your best qualities that you can offer an employer? In this section you will essentially give a snapshot of your skills and experience so the reader will actually continue reading the rest of your CV.

This section is best represented with bullet points listing specific examples. You can include experiences that demonstrate your communication skills, time management, problem solving, etc. There is no set amount of strengths to list, but aim to include about four to six points.

Examples:
-Three years experience in face-to-face and phone based customer service.
-Exceptional time management skills acquired via five years of journalism work.

Employment History

When outlining your career history, start with your most recent job and continue in reverse chronological order. List each position in this order: job title, employer, dates, responsibilities and achievements.

Keep your responsibilities limited to the key things you were accountable for in the position. Be specific when listing achievements. These are things you did above and beyond what you were paid to do. This can include exceeding targets and receiving awards or commendations. Focus on including more responsibilities and achievements for more recent positions and scaling back for older jobs.

You’ll also likely want to include a brief description of your employer, because an Australian employer is unlikely to know anything about the company. I recommend placing an employer description before your responsibilities.

Example:
Receptionist, Woolies Marketing, June 2012 – July 2015
About Woolies Marketing:
First opened in 1990, the company has become the lead marketing firm in Oregon, creating advertisement campaigns for major corporations throughout the world.
Responsibilities:
Chaired weekly team meeting.
Updated and distributed research to marketing teams.
Achievements:
Recruited, trained and established a customer service team that was fully operational within two months – two weeks ahead of schedule.
Named employee of the year in 2014.

Addressing Gaps in Your CV

If you have any gaps in your employment history, be sure to explain the gap in your CV. You can insert a short paragraph explaining the gap in the corresponding place in your employment history. Ideally, you’ll be able to show what you’ve done to remain professionally engaged. Don’t sound apologetic or defensive; simply address what you did during the time and the skills you acquired.

Example:
World Traveller August 2015 – August 2016
Skills acquired: Excellent communication skills, planning skills and attention to details. During this time I completed a first aid certificate and took Spanish classes.

Education and Training

Start with your highest qualification first. List the name of the educational institution, the dates you attended and the degree(s) you received. You can also include any training or certifications you have received from industry courses, educational institutions and other professional training.

Some people recommend leaving out your secondary school (high school) history if you have been out of school for some time. I think it depends on your situation. If you don’t have a lot of education history to include, it could be good to list, but be sure to note the degree equivalent in the state you are planning to work in.

Example:
Harvard University, August 2008 – May 2012
Bachelor of Arts in Business Management

Awards and Achievements

If you’ve received any awards or achievements for academics or in the workforce, list them here. Include the date you received them and who awarded you.

Example:
-Harvard University Business Management Outstanding Graduate
-Awarded employee of the year in 2014

Referees

These are your references. It seems that most Australian employers ask for “referees” not “references” so I just followed the same lingo and used what they put into the job description.
Provide the name and phone number of your references.

If you are including someone from outside of Australia as a reference, it is good practice to include the time zone they are located in as well as an email address. This makes it easier for your potential Australian employer to contact your references.

Example:
John Doe, President of Woolies Marketing
+1 (555) 555-5555 john.doe@aolmail.com (Pacific Standard Time)

Writing an Australian Cover Letter

You will need to write a new cover letter with each job that you apply for. The cover letter should highlight your desire to apply and your qualifications for the position. The purpose of your cover letter is to make sure your resume is thoroughly read to help get you an interview.

Don’t simply restate your CV. Rather, demonstrate how your experience and achievements make you uniquely qualified for the role. Use keywords from the job description when possible.

Additionally, personalize the letter by addressing it to the relevant hiring manager or recruiter.
Use clear and concise language. Your letter should be no longer than one page. Use the same font size and style as your resume. Your document should be formatted to size A4.

Cover Letter Layout

Start with your contact details followed by the date and company details (name of hiring manager, and company name and address). Address your letter to the recruiter and reference the job title and vacancy number if one is provided.

The opening paragraph should specify which job you are applying for and your confidence to succeed in the role. You can also specify where and when the position was posted.

The second paragraph should demonstrate why the recruiter should be interested in hiring you. Provide specific examples of your experience and skills. You want to give a direct reason why you should be hired.

The third paragraph can highlight career achievements that are relevant to the job. Show the company how you added value to your employer’s organization.

The final paragraph should close the letter. Thank the recruiter for their time and express interest in an opportunity to meet with them.

Additional Tips

Once you have finished writing your CV and cover letter, proofread them multiple times and ask a few friends to read them over as well. Look out for grammatical, spelling and syntax errors. Be sure to ‘utilise’ Australian spelling. Common rules are double l’s (travelling), -our rather than -or (colour) and s’s in place of z’s (organisation). Try setting spell check to British English (or Australian English if you have it), to help use the correct spelling.

Submit your CV and cover letter in the file format (e.g. doc, pdf) that is specified in the job description. And follow the requirements of where and how to submit applications and additional documents. If you are sending in hard copies, be sure to sign your cover letter.

If you need help getting started, check out this extensive list of CV templates or sample cover letters for various job roles from CareerOne.

Related posts:
Australian Work and Holiday visa
Job Hunting in Australia
Australian Wages and Money Matters

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