Now is a good time of the year to apply if you want a job in Australia: the summer hiring slump is over and bonus season at international banks is triggering staff turnover. But be warned: writing a resume for a job Down Under isn’t exactly the same as it is in your home country. Here’s how to localise your resume.
Find out which of your skills are most transferable to Australia and make them prominent on your CV. “For example, a candidate might have experience in dealing with new legislation,” says Andrew Hanson, director of financial services at recruitment agency Robert Walters in Sydney. “Although the particular regulation may not apply in Australia, the fact they have dealt with complicated regulatory requirements would be a well-regarded skill.”
If you already have an Australian work visa, mention what type it is on your CV, says Warwick Peel, managing director of Melbourne headhunters Search360. Also include your expected arrival date in Australia, if you have one, or a time frame for your potential relocation.
Australian employers, unlike those in Singapore and Hong Kong, don’t want a photo on your resume, says Michael Cunningham, a partner at Sydney search firm Anton Murray Consulting.
Another important difference between Australia and Asia: Including personal information about your race, age, marital status or religion is unnecessary and can leave employers vulnerable to accusations of bias. “And don’t indicate whether you are pregnant or have children,” warns Tom Hannemann, lead resume writer at Resumes Australia, a CV advisory service in Sydney. “It’s unlawful in Australia for an employer, regardless of their size or industry, to refuse to hire someone based on such personal attributes.”
Your prized educational achievement may mean plenty to people at home, but check whether it’s also well know in Australia. If not, write a summary of your degree and translate any non-English names, says Hannemann, who adds that CVs shouldn’t include high-school diplomas.
It’s a similar story with the firms you’ve worked for: unless they are all international financial institutions with offices in Australia, you should include a description of their businesses. “A local Australian reader of your CV may not know Asian firms like CIMB or Temasek Holdings, for example, even if they are famous in their own countries,” says Peel from Search360.
Gavin Redelman, managing director of Sydney CV consultancy RedStarResume, adds: “Don’t overload the description, but certain information, such as company size, industry and type of work it performs, can help the reader gain a complete understanding of your experience.”
Australian managers are typically a straight-talking bunch who are looking for verifiable achievements, not international corporate babble. “Don’t use generic statements,” says Hannemann. “Referring to yourself as a ‘highly-motivated, results-oriented, committed, dynamic and innovative team player, with a passion for excellence who thrives on meeting new challenges and has exceptional communication skills’ is unlikely to impress the reader.”
Your personal motivations to move to Australia are best left off your CV and stated, briefly, in your cover letter, says Cunningham from Anton Murray Consulting. But your resume can still include an “objectives” section at the top, one of which might be getting “international experienced” in Australia, says Dr John Taccori, a Sydney career counsellor and founder of website careersdoctor.net. But be careful that your career goals don’t hint at you only wanting a short stint in Australia, he advises.
Australian employers don’t take kindly to grammar and spelling mistakes on foreign resumes, especially if they already have concerns about the candidate’s English-language ability. “This will lead to them also questioning your verbal communication skills,” says Cunningham.
Redman from RedStarResume recommends avoiding American spelling and using Australian English, which is similar to UK English. “For example, words like specialise and realise take an ‘s’ not a ‘z’. Also stay away from using the first person pronoun. For example, ‘I increased revenue by 10%’ should be replaced with ‘increased revenue by 10%.’”
Australia is no country for long resumes. Four pages is the maximum if you are vastly experienced – most people should keep it to two. “Australian employers and recruiters prefer candidates provide just enough detail so they can determine what you have achieved and the significance of your accomplishments,” says Hannemann from Resumes Australia.
Be detailed with dates – include both the month and the year you started and finished each job – but otherwise trim your text. Deleting the reasons you moved companies and any positions you held 10 or more years ago are two ways to reduce irrelevant information.