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Once you’ve found a job that suits you, the next step is to apply for it.

Written applications

In Australia, people usually apply for a job through a written application. Your job applications need to be of a high standard and tailored for each job to give you the best possible chance of being selected for an interview or testing.

Job applications usually include a cover letter expressing your interest in and suitability for the role and a copy of your resume, also known as a Curriculum Vitae or CV. Applications should be tailored to specific jobs and demonstrate that you have:

  • the relevant skills, qualifications and experience for the job
  • a good understanding of the advertised role
  • the attributes that the company or employer wants in its employees.

Job applications are sent by email, mail or lodged electronically on a website. If a preference is not stated, you should check how the employer or recruiter wants to receive your job application.

Watch the following video to find out how to create a resume specific to each job, what details should be included and how to make yours stand out.

Download the transcript for the Resume Design video (DOC, 27 KB)

Preparing a job application

How to write an Australian CV for job applications

Your resume should be clear, concise and easy to read. It should always be tailored to the specific job for which you’re applying. It should also be current and include the details of your most recent work experience.

Many Australian employers prefer a reverse-chronological style of resume. This style of resume places your most recent relevant work experience up front and progresses backwards in time through your relevant work history.

It’s important that your resume is in an appropriate format for Australian employers. Employers in Australia want a detailed picture of past experience and skills, not just a snapshot of qualifications and previous positions held. They generally prefer resumes to be two-to-four pages long.

Here is a suggested format for your resume:

Introduction
Information such as:
  • name and contact details including address, email and telephone
  • career overview – a brief, relevant statement of your main qualifications and relevant experience
  • career goal or objective – this is optional, and can focus the reader on the career path you’re seeking.
Employment history  List your employment history – the relevant employers you have worked for from most recent to oldest, including volunteer work and work experience. The format of this section can vary, but ensure that you:
  • list your most recent position first (keeping dates consistent)
  • account for gaps in the sequence
  • include your job title and give an indication of organisational context
  • avoid showing each new position with the same organisation as a new job
  • describe your duties and responsibilities in plain English terms
  • mention several verifiable accomplishments
  • consolidate older and less relevant experience at the bottom of the CV.
Education and qualifications List any education or training, including the name of the education provider and years attended. List your most important qualification first.
Professional memberships Include a section on professional memberships, especially if this is required in your industry.
Concluding statements Statements can be added, but should be brief and not include new information.
Referees or references If the job application requires a referee, list two to three here or otherwise say that they’re available upon request. Speak to your referees in advance to confirm that it is OK to list them in your resume. When you apply for a job, let your referees know the details of the job so they will be prepared to answer questions from the employer or recruiter.

In Australia, there is no need to include personal details such as your age, marital status or religious beliefs.

Take letters of commendation and other supporting documents to the interview rather than attaching them with the resume.

Tips for preparing an Australian style resume

  • Don’t be afraid to list 'soft' skills such as the ability to listen and communicate well and work in a team environment.
  • Reference as much as you can to Australia – for example, that your qualifications have been assessed as an equivalent to an Australian degree.
  • Have an Australia-based local referee listed on your resume if possible. This referee could be someone you meet through networking, unpaid work experience and/or volunteering.
  • Use spellings from an Australian dictionary. In Australia, we tend to follow British English spelling, not American English spelling.
  • Avoid unnecessary personal information such as marital status, gender, date of birth, and driver's licence.

Cover letter

Your cover letter should be no more than one page and include:

  • the title of the job you’re applying for (including where and when you saw the job advertised)
  • why you’re interested in the job and employer
  • how your skills, qualifications and experience match the requirements of the job and make you a suitable candidate for the job (in a paragraph or two)
  • that you’re available for an interview or further discussion of the position and your application.

Selection criteria

Some job applications require you to address the key selection criteria the company will use to evaluate your application. You can write your responses to the selection criteria on a separate page to be included with your job application. Use specific examples of your skills and work experience for each of the key selection criteria to demonstrate your suitability for the role.

Answering the selection criteria takes extra time but it’s very important to include this information when it’s required as part of the job application if you want to be seriously considered for the job.

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