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Blog - How to tweak your resume for a senior public service role - Athena Ali The Get Noticed Coach

One of the most common questions I get is “how do I tweak my resume?” or if they’re requesting a done-for-you service, “can you tweak my resume?”

In this video, I reveal the 5 biggest tips I can share with you on how to create an interview-winning resume that stands out and gets noticed by hiring managers.

I want the phone to ring for you too – no more crickets and job application rejection!

These tips are specifically for anyone seeking a senior public service role who has been applying for public service jobs and is either getting regular rejection emails or is hearing crickets. These tips will transform your CV and get that phone ringing for interviews.

I believe in you! You can do it just like I did, and my clients did!

Watch the video below and hitSubscribe” on my channel so you can receive all video updates! If you don’t like watching or listening to videos, you can also read the transcript below.


Athena Ali – The Get Noticed Coach   




Hi, everyone.

I’m Athena Ali The Get Noticed

Coach, career strategist and government job application specialist.

I hope everyone’s well, today. Here in Melbourne,

we’re still in lockedown, but at least we can get out into the sunshine today.

So I hope the sun is shining wherever you are.

Today, one of the biggest questions I get

is “How do I tweak my resume?” Or if they’re asking for a done for you service from me,

is “Can you tweak my resume for me?”

Often people will come to me and say

that they just need a “tweak”, and then they find that I will suggest

that we need to rewrite it because tweaking sometimes is not enough

to respond to the criteria in the job application.

Now, the problem I have with the word

“tweak” is that there’s a perception that you don’t have to do very much

to your job application to get it up to scratch

for the new application

you’re making. A “tweak” basically is

an improvement or something that we do by making fine adjustments to our work

and sometimes it’s not just about making fine adjustments.

We have to look at the job ad and the job description, and

research the organisation to find out exactly what it is that they want.

And if your current resume isn’t responding to the criteria fully

and taking into account that new Department or the job that you’re

going for, it may be that you need to rewrite parts or all of your resume.


Now, sometimes you might go for roles, you know, for example, in teaching, I

see this a lot with the criteria where they’re identical, and so many people just regurgitate what

they did last time and then wonder why they still can’t get an interview.

If you’re not taking into account the school or location,

perhaps other things that that school is really focusing on because each school,

although might have the same curriculum and all of that kind of thing

their focus may be somewhere else that year or for the next two or three years

and if you haven’t taken that into account and don’t know about it,

you may not get interviewed or shortlisted

because you haven’t done your research.

So it’s really important that you factor

that in when you’re writing a resume or tweaking it.


So for me, tweaking actually means to alter your resume as much as possible

so that you actually respond to every single criteria

in the job description.

And so therefore, I prefer to use the word

“tailor” rather than tweak because tailoring your resume means that you’re actually

reconstructing your resume to a specific role to a specific Department

and that Department, or that employer is going to have different needs

from the last one that you made an application for.

So in saying all of that,

how do you tweak, or by my definintion, how do you tailor your senior public service

resume so that you stand out and you’re shortlisted for the job.

Now there are lots and lots of tips in this area that I could share with you.

But these are my five biggest tips and the reason I’ve chosen these, and they’re

in no particular order, because I find, you know, these are the ones people tend

to struggle with the most and have a lot of questions around.

And it just seems to be what tends to come up for my clients more.

So this isn’t everything,

but it’s just a small selection of things that you can do to improve your resume

today or have a think about when you are making alterations to your resume.

The first one is, is to be consistent

with your fonts, with your headings and the presentation.

I find a lot of people get templates, and that’s fine to get a template,

and that’s a really great start, because that helps you with the structure

but what I don’t want to see or what

I don’t like seeing as a recruiter is everything squeezed onto this front page.


It will be divided into sections where it will tell me your career history and your

key skills and then your qualifications,

and everything is just on this page in boxes, and it’s all squeezed in.

There’s no white space around it,

so it’s really difficult to read, and all that information might be gold,

but when I can’t read it or I can’t access

what I want straight away, you’re making it hard for me.

You need to make it as easy as possible

for the person reading it, to want to read it.

Okay. And what we want is for them to keep reading.

So we need to make that first page really clear and really easy to read.

You don’t have to have 100 headings on that front page

it confuses the reader.  Have it in an all orderly fashion

on the front page, have some white space around it.


And you know your template doesn’t need to be fancy.

Your template can be plain,

but if you have clear headings and clear ways that you formatted that document it’s

going to be a lot easier for me to read it.


So we want to make the format and the font easy to read.

The second thing is for a public service resume, all your selection criteria should

somehow be addressed on that front page in some way, shape or form.

Okay. And this is especially important because

sometimes cover letters aren’t requested, or perhaps even key selection criteria

might not be requested, and you may only need to upload a resume.

In this case, it’s even more important

to make sure you’ve addressed the key selection criteria on the front page

of that resume because there is nowhere else for you to do it.

In order to be selected or shortlisted

for interview, you need to address the key selection criteria.

So this may be the only place that you can

actually highlight your suitability for the role, and if it takes,

it’s apparently the statistic that it takes about 6 seconds for a recruiter

to scan your resume and decide whether they’ll keep reading.

So we want to make that first impression,

we want them to be able to see

your selection criteria on the front page

so that they will continue to read the rest of your document.


This can be a really hard task,

because if the resume is the only place you’re going to be able to put your key

selection criteria, you’re really going to have to be succinct

to be able to get a lot of that on the front page.

Now, the third tip is is to rearrange your

resume based on the criteria, not on what the template says

you have to do. As I said, templates are great as

a starting point, and they really help you to structure your resume.

But you need to rearrange your resume so

that the key selection criteria all feature on the front.

So if the template tells you to put qualification first or whatever.

But qualifications are not necessarily an essential criteria,

and experience is, then you would make an effort to put your experience

on that, or start your experience on that front page because that is

essential, and that is what they’re going to want to see first

before they look at qualifications. Qualifications might only be desirable,

in which case, if they don’t feature on the front page, it’s not an issue.

You can feature them on the second page, but I would look at reorganising your resume

so that all the criteria actually are on that front page.


or as close to the front page as possible.

The fourth thing, the fourth tip is gaps in your resume.

Now I get asked a lot about gaps,

and sometimes I don’t get asked about gaps, but I see them, okay.

As a recruiter,

it’s natural for me when I’m looking at career experience chronologically

if there’s experience missing or a timeframe,

missing straight away, my eye actually goes to it

and the first thing we do is start making

up stories in our head about why there’s a gap and why it hasn’t been addressed.

So address them.

Don’t hide them.

Don’t be fancy about hiding them.

It’s best to disclose the gap.

If you had a career break, you can say career break.

You don’t have to go into the specifics if you don’t want to.

But if it’s something like, you know, parental leave or travel or anything like

that, there’s absolutely no problem with adding that in.

It’s better to address it and we know,

“okay, they were just on parental leave” or “okay

they travelled; great”.

That gives them something to talk to you, talk with you about in an interview.

And that way you can explain further how they might be relevant to your role.

And I, you know, really the experience we

have been parents or travelling are invaluable, so they’re nothing to hide,

and I would certainly put them in your resume and address them.

Don’t hide them.

The fifth thing that I get asked about in terms of tweaking a resume and should I

or shouldn’t I is whether to put our referees on our resume or not,

and whether we should tweak our resume by adding these in or not adding these.

These days,

what I have found with public service resumes is they often now ask – thank you

I don’t know who that is, but thank you for your comment about “great advice”.

StreamYard actually hasn’t

given me your name, so I just see you as Facebook users.

If you log in, I will be able to see your name, but if not, Hello,

thank you for joining me.

Back to where I was – to referee or not?

So should we put that in there?

As I said, most public service job ads now actually ask for referees.

So now when I write documents,

it’s my preference to add at least two whether they’ve been asked for or not.

And that’s just because, as I said,

I’ve noticed a trend with public service applications

they’re now requesting that you do add them.

Now, if you don’t add them, that is fine.

If it’s not an essential criteria, it’s not part of the instructions

you don’t have to put them in,

and you don’t have to include a heading

for them and put “available upon request” either.

It depends on the space that you’ve got.

If you’ve got space to add them in, I’d add them in.

If you haven’t got space and they’re not requested, you don’t have to add them in.

It might be part of the online application

for sometimes they separate that out, and they’ll say, you know,

put your referees here, in which case you don’t need to put them

in the resume because their system will extract that information for them.


basically, as long as you follow the instructions,

then you can either add them or not add them.

But generally speaking, as I said, I generally have been adding them

in because they generally are requested, and it saves them a bit of time

and to be honest, most of the time our referees are people

we have worked with in the past, and therefore it doesn’t matter.

The only time it might bother you is if

the referee has to be someone you’re currently working with,

and people have issues with, perhaps disclosing that, you know,

when they’re looking for a job and they don’t want their current employer to know.

But again, there are ways to get around that as well,

and basically letting them know not to get

in touch with them until such time as they’re pretty much the applicant

that’s been

you know, going to be hired.

But at the end of the day, I add them now, but it’s not

necessary unless it’s in the instructions.

So they’re my five tips on how to tailor your resume and some of the things you

could put in and how you could structure it and format it and the types of things

that they’re really wanting to see in there.

And the key really here is to make it specific

to that job, but also to make sure you address the criteria in your resume as

well as in your cover letter, your LinkedIn profile, and everywhere else.


I hope you found some of those tips helpful.

Now, there are many more

as I said earlier, there are many more tips on resumes I can

share, but I’ve got limited time today, but I have put together

my Interview-Winning resume template for you, to give you a start on how

to structure your resume and what to put in each section and the type of layout

a basic layout that’s appealing neat and tidy.

You can download that below.

I will leave a link to that below.

After this broadcast,

you can also comment or DM me if you can’t see it and you would like a copy of it

I’m happy to send that over to you.

Alternatively, if you’re struggling to articulate your rebrilliance and you’d prefer

to have someone do this for you, then get in touch with me.

I have limited spots available each week for done-for-you services.

But again, just get in touch with me and I’d be happy to help you.

Thank you for coming along today, and I hope I’ve helped you in some way.

Have a great week and I’ll see you next week.






Hi, I’m Athena Ali the Founder of The Get Noticed Coach.

I help mid-career professionals and leaders get noticed, get hired, and get ahead in a public service career they love, increase their income, get flexibility, paid professional development and where they can make a difference to the community.