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Top Tips for Writing Your CV for a Western Employer

Breaking into the Western job market may seem daunting, especially if you’re an international student – but it doesn’t need to be.

With a tailored CV, you’ll not only stand out from the crowd to a Western employer, but you’ll pave the way to international success in a global career. 

To give you a leg up on your career, here are our top tips for writing your CV for an Australian employer.



With many employers spending less than a minute scanning your CV, structure is crucial. Your CV is an opportunity to get the reader excited enough to invite you for an interview and ensuring that the layout of your CV is clear, simple and easy to read is the first step towards making that happen.

CV length 

  • Try to keep your CV to 2-3 pages. This allows you to provide the detail Australian recruiters are looking for without going overboard.


  • Stick to a font style that’s easy to read like 11 point Arial or Calibri.
  • Create some hierarchy in your content such as bold headings.
  • Avoid using tables, graphs and images as these take up valuable space.
  • Dot points can be used to break up continuous text but use the same dot point style throughout.

Key sections

  • Personal details
  • Professional profile summary
  • Employment history – including responsibilities and achievements
  • Education and training
  • Key strengths and skills
  • Referees – including their contact details

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Your details

Australian employers will hire you based on your experience and potential to learn, so there’s no need to include a photo of yourself, your parents’ names, your age, religion, marital status or gender.

This isn’t to say that your CV doesn’t need any personal details though. You should always include your name, phone number and email address at the top of the page.

TOP TIP: Ensure your email address is some variation of your name. A zany email address with an old nickname simply won’t do.

Local work experience

Local work experience shows your future employer that you understand Australian work culture.

Undertaking part-time work whilst studying or participating in work-integrated learning programs can provide you with invaluable practical experience to include on your CV and help you stand out in the Australian job market. Ensure you include some bullet points of the actual duties performed, specifically drawing out tasks that align with the role you are applying for.

Highlight how your international background benefits the organisation

When drafting your CV, begin by reflecting positively on your international background and experience and what you can contribute to an organisation. With many companies now operating on a global scale, knowledge of more than one language, a background and awareness of other cultures and overseas contacts and networks are often highly valued skills.


It is best practice to end an Australian CV with 2-3 referees. These are the people who will be contacted after you have attended an interview for more information about your skills and working style. It’s particularly beneficial to list local referees who have a good grasp on Australian workplaces. These could include your lecturers or industry contacts gained through work-integrated learning placements.

TOP TIP: It’s a good idea to check that your contacts are happy to be a referee before including their details on your CV.

Spelling and grammar

We understand that mastering a second language is no easy feat, but a CV riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes may deter a potential employer from getting to know you and your capabilities further.

To avoid any unintentional errors, it’s a good idea to get a friend to proof-read your CV or you can contact your university careers support service to read over your resume. .  

TOP TIP: Remember to review your resume with Australian English – that’s ‘Analyse’ not ‘Analyze’, ‘Licence’ not ‘License’, ‘Colour’ not ‘Color’.


Include a cover letter

Most employers will ask for a cover letter to be submitted alongside your CV. A cover letter is your first introduction to a potential employer and should demonstrate your suitability for the role. The effort you put into a well-tailored cover letter can go a long way in convincing a prospective employer that you’re a highly motivated candidate and will help you stand out in the application process.

An effective cover letter should be tailored to the specific job you are applying for and should summarise your motivation, main skills and experience in relation to the selection criteria. It should be kept to one A4 page and written using professional language and structured paragraphs.

Are you ready for a 5-star future? Explore your dreams and start your international career from Australia’s capital city at the University of Canberra. Discover popular courses in communications, business, IT, health and architecture.

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