How to Write a Skills-Based Resume

[Download the How to Write a Skills-Based Résumé tipsheet.]

The format we recommend for University students is the skills-based (or functional) résumé. This type of résumé focuses on key skills relevant to the position being applied for rather than chronological employment history. Research has shown that this format, which enables job applicants to communicate to potential employers what they can offer,tends to be most effective both for current students or recent graduates, who do not have extensive experience in their chosen career field, and also for people with an extensive work history who are changing careers. Your experience is organised under key skills rather than by dates, which can avoid repetition while highlighting your skills.

Getting started

It may be daunting, but start by writing down everything! Include ALL of your education, other qualifications, professional experience, employment history, professional affiliations and personal interests (e.g. sporting/cultural/community activities). From this brainstorming session, identify all the skills you have developed. (pPeople who know you well, such as family or friends, can often assist with this activity).

Your skills 'master list'

For each skill, record how you have developed it, how you can demonstrate it and, most importantly, how you can transfer it to your chosen career field. Each time you prepare a job application, identify your six (or so) most relevant skills for that specific job and include these in your résumé. Write in sentence/paragraph form and use key words that reflect the language used by the potential employer. This is the defining feature of a skills-based résumé and is core to the document, so it is essential that you do it properly.

Other hints and tips

  • Bullet points should be avoided (unless specifically requested by a potential employer).
  • Career objectives are generally redundant (this information should be included in your cover letter).
  • Don't use a title such as RÉSUMÉ or CURRICULUM VITAE at the top (employers know what it is).
  • Do not include a photograph – what you look like is irrelevant.
  • Double-check spelling, grammar and formatting (always get someone else to proofread) and be consistent throughout. Note: if you use American spelling (e.g. organization), ensure that you use it throughout the document, phone numbers – always include area codes and spaces (e.g. 02 6773 2897), set up your page with tab stops, set paragraph spacing to zero, set line spacing to either single or 1.5, and use one, clear, professional font (e.g. Arial, Lucida Sans or Times New Roman) and don't try to be fancy.
  • Email address – keep it professional and consider having one email address just for applications and other professional emails.
  • Include a footer, or header, with your full name and Page # of # (just in case the pages are separated).
  • Naming protocol for emailing or uploading your résumé – name_position number (or title)_résumé (or cover letter or selection criteria), e.g. JessicaDoe_JuniorEcologist_résumé.
  • Tailor your résumé for to every job you apply for (never send out a 'stock standard' résumé), change your wording to reflect the organisation and their advertisement or website.
  • Your résumé should only be as long as necessary (don't waffle on just to pad it out).


Your résumé should be made up of the following components:

  • Personal Details
  • Education
  • Other Qualifications
  • Key Skills (~6)
  • Professional Experience
  • Employment History
  • Professional Affiliations
  • Personal Interests
  • Referees 

To see an example, please download the How to Write a Skills-Based Résumé tipsheet.