How to craft a professional CV

Person at desk frustrated with writing their CV

If you’re looking for a new job, crafting a professional and personalised CV is a crucial first step. Whether you’re a newly minted graduate or an expert in your field, an impressive CV will increase your chances of landing an interview. In this blog, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide to navigating this (often tricky) process like a pro.

If you’re worried about your ability to write a winning resume, you’re not alone. In fact, 60% of Australian job seekers cite complicated and time-intensive application processes as one of the top barriers to landing a new role. It’s not all bad news, though. Once you’ve created a solid CV, a few simple tweaks are all you need to tailor your application to each role. Furthermore, a polished CV will give you a confidence boost – a vital element to job-search success. With that in mind, let’s get started!

Australian job seekers struggle with CV application process infographic

Building your CV: What to include

You’ve decided you’d like to find a new job, and you have a list of current vacancies lined up and ready to go. Step one is to create your CV! Here, we’ll outline the essential elements of your CV and provide examples of how to incorporate them.
 

Contact Info

First and foremost, you need to provide your contact information. Include your full name, phone number, email address, and location. Your contact information should be placed at the top of the page, so it's easy for potential employers to find. Make sure that your email address is professional and appropriate.

Example:

Matthew Smith
0400 123 456
matthewsmith@gmail.com
Brisbane, QLD

Professional Summary

The professional summary is a brief statement that summarises your key skills, experience, and value to potential employers. This section should be no longer than three to four sentences and should be tailored to the job you're applying for. Your professional summary should be captivating and entice potential employers to keep reading your CV.

Example: Enthusiastic and safety-focused haul truck operator with over a decade of experience in the mining sector. Skilled in operating Komatsu 830e, CAT 793, and CAT 789. Proven ability to work as part of a diverse team to deliver projects on time and to a high standard. Seeking a challenging new role where I can continue to develop my industry skillset and expertise.

The first section of a CV - The contact info and professional summary

Relevant Experience

This is where you list your previous work experience. Start with your most recent job and work backward. Be sure to include your job title, the name of the company, role location, and the dates you were employed. For each job, list your key responsibilities, achievements, and any notable projects you worked on. Quantify your achievements with metrics where possible to demonstrate your impact. 

Example: 

Haul Truck Operator
Rocks Mining Company
Bowen Basin, QLD
July 2018 – Present
• Operated haul trucks (EX 5600, 5500, 3600,) in a safe and efficient manner, transporting over 2 million tonnes of iron ore per year.
• Conducted thorough gear inspections and reported any defects to the maintenance team.
• Collaborated with the mining production team to optimise haulage routes, resulting in a 10% increase in productivity.

The second section of a CV - Relevant experience

Education & Certifications 

Make sure you list your academic qualifications and any relevant certifications or training programs you have completed. Start with your most recent qualification and work backward. Be sure to include the name of the institution or training provider, the qualification obtained, and the date of completion.

Example: 

Conduct Rigid Haul Truck Operations
Industry Training Queensland (ITQ)
2020

Key Skills 

This is your time to shine – it’s time to highlight your key competencies and strengths! In this section, you can include technical skills, such as operating heavy machinery, and soft skills, such as interpersonal communication. Take the time to align your skills with the job requirements and highlight your strongest skills first. 

Example: 

  • Safe and efficient operation of haul trucks
  • Equipment maintenance and inspections
  • Risk assessment and prevention 
  • In-depth knowledge of mining regulations

Referees

Finally, it’s a good idea to include the names and contact information of 2-3 professional referees who can vouch for your skills and work experience. Where possible, use a current supervisor or someone you’ve worked closely with. 
TIP: Ask permission before listing someone as a reference.  

Example: 

Janine Miller
Site Supervisor 
Rocks Mining Company
0406 775 398
janinemiller@rocksmining.com 

Third Section of a CV - Education, Key Skills and Referees

Refining your CV: What to leave out

When you’re trying to ‘sell yourself’, it can be tempting to provide as much information as possible. But when it comes to your CV, it’s important to exercise discretion. Here, we’ll outline what to avoid.

Industry-Heavy Jargon

Avoid using too much industry-specific jargon in your CV, especially if it is not widely used. Using too much technical language can be confusing for employers and make it difficult to understand your achievements and skills. It's best to use straightforward language and highlight your accomplishments in simple terms.

Example: Utilised autonomous haulage system technology to optimise operational efficiency and reduce downtime.

Fix it: Increased productivity and reduced downtime by using technology to automate haulage processes.

Cliches & Buzzwords 

Don’t pack your CV full of cliches and buzzwords. If you do, you run the risk of creating a CV that sounds generic and forgettable. Instead, use descriptive language that demonstrates your skills and achievements.

Example: Results-driven team player with excellent communication skills and a strong work ethic.

Fix it: Collaborated with colleagues to achieve team goals and consistently exceeded performance targets. Demonstrated clear and effective communication skills in challenging situations.

Irrelevant Information 

Including unnecessary information can make your CV appear cluttered and detract from your professional achievements. Avoid including information that’s irrelevant to the job you are applying for – your potential employer doesn’t need to know about your after-school job at the local fish and chip shop 20 years ago!

Example: My hobbies include wakeboarding, going to the pub with friends, and watching movies with my partner and kids. 

Fix it: I’m passionate about professional development and growing my knowledge of the renewable energy sector. 

Your Selfie 

As a rule, it’s best practice not to include a photo of yourself on your resume. While it might be tempting to include a picture that showcases your professionalism or skills, it can make your resume look unprofessional, and it also exposes you to the risk of unconscious bias. 

Fix it: If you’re wondering whether to include a photograph on your resume, delete it. Let your skills, experience and qualifications do the talking.

Do's and Dont's when it comes to your CV

What next?

Well done – you’ve built a professional CV that highlights your key skills, experience and qualifications, and you’ve carefully removed any irrelevant or distracting content. What now?

Consider your design

A well-designed CV can make a strong first impression on potential employers. Use bullet points and short sentences to deliver important information. Choose a clear and professional font (e.g. Verdana, Arial) and utilise white space to break up the text. TIP: There are thousands of free CV templates online – choose a simple, minimal template and use it as a starting point.

Proofread your work

Once you’ve nailed your design, it’s essential to proofread your CV. Take the time to carefully review your work, checking for spelling and grammatical errors. Ask a friend or family member to review it as well, as they may catch something you missed. A polished and error-free CV shows attention to detail and professionalism.

Keep your CV updated

Finally, it’s vital to keep your CV updated. This is particularly important when you complete additional training, take on a new role, or switch industries. Keep a record of any training you complete, and regularly update your ‘career history’ section to highlight your most recent roles and accomplishments. An up-to-date CV shows that you're committed to your career growth and development.
 
Remember to style, proofread and update your CV - Infographic

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