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CV-pedia: the A-Z of getting a job


From writing a killer resume, to acing interviews and hunting down references, landing a job can be a pretty lengthy process. Here, we hash out some of the key things to think about when applying for your first part-time or graduate gig.

For more on landing your dream job, sign up to the Careers with STEM weekly e-newsletter for all the tips and tricks!

A is for accomplishments

Won some stuff at school? Aced your HSC? Whether you’re applying for a part-time gig or the real deal post uni, bragging a little – or a lot – can help get a potential employers attention. Seek recommends popping this under ‘Education’ on your resume, before you start listing off any professional experience.

B is for bullet points

Your CV doesn’t have to be an essay! Bullet points are a good way to list things off without making it look too wordy.

C is for careers advisor

Most schools and universities have one of these guys on staff to support with any study, work experience or career queries. Hit one up; they can be a great resource when workshopping options.

D is for dress code

Landed yourself an interview? Career guide Indeed recommends researching the company’s dress code before deciding what to wear. “Use your best judgement and don’t overthink it,” they advise. “Choose clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident!”

E is for employment history

When your career is only just kicking off, listing your limited employment history on your CV can be tricky. But for some graduate gigs work experience, internships and part time jobs speak volumes. List them in chronological order, making sure to outline any key responsibilities relevant to the role you’re applying for.

F is for font

According to the UNSW career hub, CV fonts should be plain – try Arial, Times New Roman or Verdana – size 12, black and without underlines. Keep it simple, easy to read and let your skills speak for themselves.

G is for grammar

It might not be in the job description but basic grammar and spelling skills are a huge tick for any employee. Even if you’re going for a tech-heavy STEM gig, making sure your CV is free of any grammatical mistakes will prove that you have attention to detail and take pride in your work.

H is for hobbies

Not sure whether to include these on a resume? “List anything that would be relevant to the job you’re applying for,” say job gurus Seek. “Hobbies for instance that illustrate your proficiency in languages, computer programs or medical knowledge should be listed.”

I is for internship

Getting on-the-job experience while still studying can be hard to fit around class, work and social stuff, but the experience and exposure to industry is invaluable. Suss out some of the best STEM programs here.

J is for job search

If you’re looking for a breakout role, doing a targeted search on an online job-hunting site can be a great place to start. You can look by role, company or even salary bracket! Being specific can mean less results to sift through, but keeping things broad might open you up to opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.

K is for key strengths

The idea of this CV subhead is to give your employer a snapshot of what you’re awesome at. Dot points work well, and as a guide CareerOne suggests including four-six. “Be specific,” the careers site urges. “Rather than ‘excellent communication skills’, try something like ‘excellent written and verbal communication skills acquired via study and customer service work.”

L is for LinkedIn

With 500 million-plus members, professional networking site LinkedIn is basically Facebook, for your career. Once you create a profile you can make connections with people in similar roles, seek out work when it’s advertised and career stalk those in your dream gigs.

M is for money

Although salary expectations are important to establish early on in the job-interview process, leaving them off your CV is pretty standard practice. Job sites like Seek allow you to add them to your personal profiles, but generally it’s during first-round interviews when they get discussed.

N is for negativity

Keep upbeat and positive when faced with negatively geared interview questions like, “so, why did you leave your last job?” Try not to bag your previous position, but instead talk about why this role would suit you more.

O is for objective

One way to pad out a resume lacking professional experience is to lead with a short sentence or two describing what it is you’re looking for. Something like, “I’m seeking an out-of-the-box engineering job in the finance sector!” is a good indication to an employer of where – or if – you’d fit.

P is for PayScale

Ever wanted to know what your dream job pays? Extensive online job salary database PayScale is good to hit up when you feel like a snoop.

Q is for quick read

Keep your CV brief and easy to read in order to make a great impression at a quick glance. Two pages max is ideal.

R is for recruiter

Recruiters match hiring companies with suitable employees – and vice versa – and are a great support resource if looking for work is becoming a mission.

S is for social media

These days the likelihood that a potential employer could look you up on socials is pretty high. Either keep things on private, or make sure your pics and wall content are clean.

T is for tell your references

Popped your old boss from three jobs ago down as a reference? Give them the heads up! That way they can gather their thoughts and give you a killer wrap plus won’t be all like “er, who?!” when they get a call.

W is for work experience

Any on-the-job training you have behind you is invaluable, which is why seeking out unpaid work experience opportunities is encouraged. Many STEM-based organisations offer specialised programs for year 10 students – like the CSIRO and Sydney University – that expose you to a week-in-the-life of a professional in that field.

X is for xoxos

When communicating with a potential employer, signing off with an x, xx or xoxox is never a good idea.

Y is for your contact details

Don’t forget to include your address, phone number and email on your CV. Pop them at the top, under the header (which should be your full name).

Z is for zzzz

We’re guessing that falling asleep during an interview is quite possibly the world’s biggest deal-breaker. Try and get an early night so that you look – and feel – as fresh as possible (even if you stayed up all night memorising your strengths and weaknesses).

Want more resume-writing tips? Head here

Get more Careers with STEM A-Z guides!

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