How to write a resume and cover letter
A resume is a written record of your education, skills and experience. It offers a summary of your work history.
A CV (or curriculum vitae) is similar, but tends to be longer and more detailed.
In Australia, both terms are often used, and we will refer simply to resumes on this page.
A cover letter accompanies your application. It should be short and specific, highlighting your selling points in relation to the job you are applying for.
Your resume and cover letter is your first chance to convince an employer that you are the right person for the job.
Before you begin writing your resume, think about your work history and note your achievements and skills.
The layout of your resume should be neat, simple and easy to read. Aim for 3–5 pages, depending on how long you have been in the workforce. Use headings and dot points.
Employers will be looking for:
- contact details
- career strengths
- employment history
- education and training levels
Read more about what to include in your resume.
If you need help with formatting, resume templates are included with some word processors (such as Microsoft Word) and are available online.
Job and career websites may also provide templates, examples and advice.
Your cover letter is an important component of your application and should:
- introduce you to the employer
- identify the position you are applying for
- convey your enthusiasm for the position
- highlight the stand-out qualities that make you a great candidate
- inspire the reader to continue reading your application (cover letters are not a summary of your resume).
It only needs to be 1 page and should be addressed personally to the employer or contact for the job.
All cover letters should be tailored to suit that particular job.
Look at examples of cover letters.
Some jobs (especially government jobs) will ask you to meet particular requirements or selection criteria. Selection criteria may also be known as core or key capabilities.
Your responses should demonstrate, with relevant examples, that you have the required experience, skills and abilities to do the job. Be succinct and use dot points where appropriate.
Read more about how to write selection criteria.