Many years ago, around the turn of the century, I was living and working as a recruitment consultant in the UK. One of the things I noticed in that time was the difference in what was expected in a resume. Given this difference, I thought it might be a good idea to write a few words on the topic for a blog post, but, unfortunately, fifteen years is a long time, and my experience is probably not relevant. To help, I have teamed up with Ramya Raju from the UK, who is a resume writing and career expert. Ramya has detailed what is best practice in this guest post.
UK: This is something that is practically imperative in a resume for the UK, and you are better off giving a range of details, including your home address, mobile number and email address. It ensures that your prospective employers can get in touch with you at the earliest and without any hassle. Australia: Privacy in the 21st century is a big issue, and I have seen many job seekers shy away from including address details. As in the UK, these details are a practical imperative. Prospective employers like to know where you are based. Commute times are also a very big 21st century problem. Along with your address, give your mobile and email address to ensure you can be contacted. Depending on what your role is, your social media links can also be relevant, LinkedIn and Twitter particularly. Once again, prospective employers can find connections to you, which could improve your chances of success.
UK: Your past employment history is definitely paid a lot of attention in the UK. But you shouldn't dilute its impact by mentioning irrelevant job history. Make sure you are only adding employment history that is relevant to the job for which you are applying. But only if you think you don't have a lot of work experience to talk about, then your entire employment history can be added to your resume.
Australia: A comprehensive breakdown of your history is very important. Tailor your experience to the role you have applied to, and do not omit any roles. Gaps in your history are a red flag to potential employers and particularly to both in-house and recruiters. In Australia, having a short, two-page resume is certainly not necessary. You should provide ALL relevant detail, no matter how many pages. Avoid writing prose, and use bullet points. Remember that your CV will be entered into a database. This means it will be used not just for the role you are applying for, but possibly your CV will be searched for future roles, so the more detail, the better for this purpose. A final note: including the reasons for leaving each role can be very beneficial.
UK: This is one of the areas where UK specific resumes differ with some other countries, because you are expected to put down all your educational qualifications on the resume. They might not be relevant to the job you are applying for, but they make a lot of sense for your future employers. Australia: As with the UK, in Australia you are expected to note all of your education. Make sure you note the dates and whether you have completed the listed course of study.
Strengths and skills
UK: When you are writing your resume for the UK, be very clear about these important aspects of it. You have to understand that skills are something that you have achieved through your qualifications and experience. Your strengths, on the other hand, are traits that will assist you in the job. You are also expected to make a strong case to support these claims in your resume. Australia: Be thorough in describing your skills. Remember skills are different from competencies, and you should treat them differently. Knowledge of SAP is a skill, whilst a competency is being a team player. The best way to think of this is to think that a competency is a behaviour and a skill is something you have knowledge of. So be thorough with skills. Note your competencies, but these are best brought out in an interview. Try to avoid too much prose. If you are applying for a management position or a more senior position, generally try to include how you have added value to your previous employers. Most people in Australia note these at the bottom of each role with the heading 'acheivements'.
UK: This is another area where UK specific resumes stand out, because applicants are expected to talk about their personality for the employers to have a better idea of who they might want to hire. This is where you can make your resume really stand out from the rest with the kind of language you use. Australia: Unlike the UK, in Australia this is generally a waste of time and is not necessary on a CV. As a default, people tend to write motherhood statements about their personality, e.g. 'I am a team player,' which adds little value. Your personality will shine through when you speak with a potential recruiter on the phone and, most importantly, at an interview.
Layout and format
UK: This is an area where many job applicants in the UK falter, because they are not able to prioritise their resumes. Of course, ultimately, your resume will depend on your experience. But in case you don't have a lot of experience, then you are better off placing your skills and strengths before your education and experience. It will not only make your resume more appealing, but you will be keeping up with what's expected from UK resumes. Don't go overboard with fonts and styles you use in your resume, because in the UK they like to cut through it all. It will take the attention away from important details in your resume too, which is something you just don't want. Australia: Make sure your CV is clear and concise. Avoid unusual fonts, colours and file types. Keep it simple, with plenty of space and bullet points.
Spelling and punctuation
UK: As you'd expect, in the UK, they are definitely particular about spelling, and it's important to use UK English in your resume. This is the least an applicant can do when applying for a job in the country. Using short and clear sentences can also help you avoid punctuation mistakes. Australia: Just like the UK, if you have a spelling mistake, you are well behind your competition right from the initial stages of your job application. Use spellcheck with UK English settings, not U.S. English. It's a small thing, but it could be the difference that gets you an interview...particularly if you are applying for an administrative position.
UK: In the UK, you are not expected to include referees on your resume. However, don't forget to mention that you will be able to provide references on request. Australia: You do not have to provide them on your resume, but it is best practice to mention they are available on request.
UK: Employers in the UK definitely expect a cover letter, and you should make the most of it. That's because it's the space where you can display your personality, goals and ambitions, besides explaining any gaps in your resume.
Australia: The importance of a cover letter is hard to determine. Twenty years ago, and from what Ramya has stated, the UK expected a good cover letter. In Australia, its value can be determined by the type of role you are applying for, who is recruiting for it and where. For example, IT recruiters are less worried about a cover letter, yet for executive appointments, it can be critical. If in doubt, make sure you have a cover letter.
UK: While it's perfectly okay to include your photograph in your resume in some countries, you just would not do that in the UK.
Australia: I have a friend in Japan who says that a photo on your resume is very important. In Australia and the UK, it is certainly NOT best practice. It is best to emphasise skills and competencies on your resume. The interview is the best place to make an impression with your presentation. So that's it! A few tips for your resume. Overall, I think the UK and Australia are very similar (which makes sense given our shared history), but we are also definitely different... something along the lines of how much better the Aussies are at cricket!! Ramya Raju is a resume writing expert and career expert who also specialises in creating, writing and developing content, career websites and content for newsletters. She is a sociable person, with a great love and interest in photography. Contact Ramya.