Did you know that the standards for resumes and cover letters are constantly changing? Although these updates are small, they may take you by surprise if you’ve been in your current role for a few years, coming back after a break or struggling to secure an interview after countless applications. Taking the next step in your career path begins with locking down how to write an effective resume in today’s market.
A resume and cover letter serve different purposes in the job application process.
A resume is a clear, concise summary of your professional history, including essentials like where you’ve worked, what you’ve done, where you’ve studied and the courses or accolades you’ve achieved.
A cover letter, on the other hand, is a chance for you to go into more detail about your work experience, giving the hiring manager a feel for who you are, how your history applies and why you’re appearing in their inbox.
Crafting a resume that stands out from the pile is crucial… but where do you start? Learn a little more about each of the three dominant formats and create a compelling resume that highlights your skills and work history with clarity. Landing the next step begins before you hit send.
A chronological resume showcases your work history as a first impression, starting with your current or most recent position and cycling backwards. Use the chronological resume to highlight your growth and development after you complete your MBA. This is the perfect format to demonstrate how your education and experience translates into real-world skill areas. Avoid if you’re changing career direction, lack experience or entering a new field altogether.
A standard reverse chronological resume format follows this flow:
A functional resume spotlights an applicant’s skills and abilities, focusing on what you’ve achieved over where you’ve worked. Suited to those without an extensive or consistent background, we wouldn’t recommend a functional resume to an MBA graduate, unless you have significant employment gaps or limited experience in your target role.
Create a convincing functional resume with this structure:
A combination resume features the best of both the functional and chronological resume types, lending weight to your skills and accomplishments while exploring your work history in relevant detail. Regarded as the most flexible format, the combination resume allows you to address what, where and who effectively. MBA graduates can leverage this dynamic, highlighting relevant skills like leadership, project management, problem solving and analysis, drawing direct connections to past roles and responsibilities.
Write an eye-catching combination resume with this tried-and-tested format:
Your resume needs to:
You should list skills that are relevant to your desired role. Remote-first workers will often highlight their communication abilities, pairing teamwork and time management with things like Slack, Harvest or Everhour, Teams, Zoom and Microsoft Office. While an upcoming CEO may lean into change management, leadership and forecasting, featuring PowerBI, Excel and Salesforce. Some popular skills that fit across most industries and MBA graduate roles include:
The short answer? It depends on your experience. If you have less than ten years experience under your belt, keep it clean at 1-2 pages, while those with over a decade in a relevant industry or list of roles can expand their resume to 2-3 pages. Keep in mind that some roles may require a one page snapshot, supported by a compelling cover letter, while others want three to four pages of in-depth information. These wants often depend on the type of role you’re applying for and the industry of interest.
Employers are busy and can only spend a short amount of time looking at applications. According to one study, 24 per cent of hiring managers spend 30 seconds or less looking at resumes.
To give your resume the best chance at being noticed, you should use:
We consulted CEOs, hiring managers and resume writers for their top tips on how to write a resume. Here’s what they said.
“A poorly organised resume will diminish your chances. Keeping it minimalist and well-organised is preferable,” advises Victor Anaya, CEO and co-founder of Serviap Global.
Simple can be interpreted in a number of ways, so we’ve prepared a list of elements to keep in mind when designing your resume:
“When I’m looking over resumes, the first thing that can make an applicant stand out is their use of meaningful, verifiable specifics,” Barry Maher, business speaker and New York Times bestselling author, explains.
“For example, I’m thrilled that you graduated from university. That puts you firmly in line with every other applicant for the job. If the school has a great reputation, so much the better. But if you graduated in the top five per cent of your class while having to hold down a full-time job, then you’ve got a story.”
“Avoid personal details,” says resume writer Nicole Coggan. “Your name and contact details are fine, but skip your relationship status and date of birth. Both open you up to discrimination based on the employers’ prejudices. Don’t give them any ammunition to throw your resume in the bin.”
Finally, Nicole encourages candidates to remove old jobs from their resumes. “Scrap your McDonald’s job from when you were 15 (unless you are still a teenager). Remember that the trend is for a resume to get shorter — not longer. Stick to the past four to five roles unless they are particularly relevant to the job you are going for.”
Completing a postgraduate degree, such as an MBA from universities like Southern Cross University, James Cook University, Victoria University or RMIT, can help with career advancement by adding credibility to your skills and experience.
By studying a postgraduate degree, you will:
Yes. While we recommend listing your tertiary achievements in the designated spot on your resume, there are ways you can wrap your soon-to-be completed (or already attained) MBA into your application, showcasing your suitability for more senior roles.
If you’re feeling stuck in your career, a postgraduate degree can help get you back on track. Speak to one of our friendly Student Enrolment Advisors today to discover which MBA is right for you.
Whether you’re ready to enrol, or just have a quick question, simply fill out the enquiry form below to speak directly to the university’s enrolment team. They will be able to guide you through:
Course eligibility and recognition of prior learning
Course structure and what you will study
Next intakes and how to apply
Fees and time commitments