Our writers have reviewed resumes from all over the world, often from job seekers hoping to find work in Australia. Increasingly, we've been contacted by people frustrated because the resume that has landed them jobs before hasn’t led to job success in Australia.
Every job application should focus on the particular requirements the employer is seeking. Similarly, effective resumes should be adapted to meet the unique specifications of each country. What is acceptable in one part of the world may count as a strike against you in another. The rules change wherever you are.
Our tips will help you convert your resume to Australian style.
1. What you leave off is as important as what you include
Recruiters in different areas expect to see particular information on resumes. For example, in some European and Asian countries, nationality and date of birth is sometimes required. In South Africa, ethnicity and ID number are often expected.
Australia’s privacy laws mean that too much personal information isn't needed. Employers have no legal right to expect details like your marital status, gender or religion. You don't need to provide your birth date unless the law requires you to be over a certain age.
It’s best to avoid mentioning achievements that don't have significance in Australia. Sorority or fraternity membership is valued in the US but would just take up space on an Australian resume.
Employers in some countries expect information about hobbies and interests. However, these are usually not needed in Australia, unless they directly relate to the job. Mentioning that you are a member of a bird-watching association is only relevant if you are applying for a job with animals.
2. Make Australian English work for you
British style is generally used in Australia. Look out for words like centre, not center, and be aware of spelling of words such as catalogue (not catalog). Australia’s official dictionary – the Macquarie Dictionary, can point you in the right direction if you’re uncertain.
If you are coming from a country where the use of the letter z instead of s is usual, it’s time to say goodbye to all those zs. Words like organization and utilize should be spelled with an s.
3. Wait to mention residency or visa status
While it might seem relevant to mention residency or visa status up front, our advice is to wait. You want recruiters to be wowed by your skills and experience. The less they know about something they could potentially view as a negative, the better.
Occasionally, online applications will have a place to declare your visa status. Otherwise, assume it isn't necessary at this early time. As long as you are entitled to work in Australia, it’s best to wait until the interview stage to discuss further details.
4. Be sure you have the right referees
If possible, try to find an Australia-based local referee. It’s ideal if they can comment on a professional level. Someone you’ve connected with through networking or volunteering is also appropriate.
Written references are rarely required in Australia. It’s enough to list the name, position and contact details of 2 referees. If your referees don’t live in Australia, email contact information is sufficient. Some recruiters don't even expect this.
If you absolutely cannot find an Australian referee, it’s best to state that referees are available on request.
5. Make local connections
You’ll make a good impression if you can show that you’ve been making connections in Australia. If your profession has an association or other industry body here, join it. Sign up for some of their training. LinkedIn or social media groups can provide useful connections too.
Many Australian education providers offer short courses online, at no cost. MOOCs (massive open online courses) are mostly free, and allow you to study units from universities around the world. These can be invaluable in showing that you’re getting involved on a local level.
6. Reframe your experience
It’s important to consider whether your professional experience needs to be reframed. Listing your experience as coaching sophomores or running tramping expeditions may not be fully understood. Make it easy for Australian recruiters to see that you worked as a high school PE teacher or hiking guide.
If possible, provide clarifying information about your qualifications. If possible, show that your qualification has an Australian equivalent. Community colleges offer different types of education around the world, from degrees to trade courses. It’s important that recruiters know exactly what your piece of paper signifies.
If you haven't worked in Australia, it’s best to provide information about your overseas employers. A hyperlink to the organisational website or a short, one-sentence descriptor will be valuable. While there will be little doubt about Amazon or Microsoft, employers probably won't know exactly what SmartCat Enterprises does.
- Get yourself an Australian email address
- If you’re able to provide an Australian postal address, even better
- Adjust your LinkedIn profile so that it’s consistent with your resume
- Make sure your written expression is clear, concise and gets to the point
- Ask a local professional to review your documents. They’ll be able to advise you about Australian nuances and check critical components of your resume like structure, grammar and word usage
Editor's note: Mint Content no longer offers CV and selection criteria writing services. For help developing a winning job application, refreshing your resume or nailing your next interview, we recommend Angela McPhillips Consulting.