The Main Differences in Writing a Resume and Cover Letter in the US and Australia

  | Kevin Nelson

In the ever integrating world, it makes ever less sense to look for a job specifically in your hometown or even your home country. More and more job seekers tend not to hold on to their regions, applying to positions globally instead - especially when language barrier is not an issue. Yet, many of the applicants still tend to lack cultural sensitivity and open-mindedness, assuming in their naivety that the standards that they are used to in their culture are equally applicable overseas. Writing a powerful CV or resume that will land you your dream job is much trickier than, say, a cause and effect essay outline at college, because there will be no tutor to tell you where you went wrong and what can be improved.

This demonstrates a bigger problem in our education and upbringing not being global enough, but this topic would be too broad for just one humble article. So, instead, we would like to focus on something more particular: the differences in applying for a job in the USA and in Australia.

Of course, you can hire a custom writing service for that: they do not only provide school essays – they do all kinds of writing. However, since your CV or resume represents you, you will be the one accountable for it in the end (at least, at the interview). So, here are the key points:


This is a no-brainer. As we know from school, there is a US English and there is a UK English. They use different standards of spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. For example, in US English we omit the U in certain words, and “favourite” becomes “favorite”, “purpouse” becomes “purpose”, “fervour” becomes “fervor”, etc. Likewise, verbs ending with “-ise” in UK English will end with “-ize” in US English: “specialise” / “specialize”.

For understandable historical reasons, Australia tends to gravitate toward UK English rather than US English. So, when typing your resume in Microsoft Word or whatever writing software you may use, remember to specify which variant of the English language you are using, so that your auto-correct did not cause you any errors.


In the USA, an employee or a recruiter will always expect a cover letter. This is the document that your hiring manager will read before opening your resume. Here, you can put the information that didn’t make it to your resume – such as why you chose to apply for this particular position at this particular company and what exactly makes you the right person for this job. By choosing not to include a cover letter, you send your employer a bad message that you just send your resume everywhere and are not particularly interested in this job.

In Australia, on the other hand, the attitude is different. Employers are generally more relaxed about cover letters, but it depends, of course, on the position you are applying for. For example, if we are talking about an executive position where persuasive abilities are of value, a cover letter is quite desired, but if you are an IT person whose most valued skills are technical, then a cover letter can be omitted.


When applying for a job in the USA, you are asked to provide a resume, whereas in Australia they ask for a CV. This is more than merely a difference in dialects. A resume is French for summary, so it is expected to be brief by definition. CV stands for curriculum vitae which is Latin for life description, so it should be more detailed.

In practice, it means that an American resume should not be bigger than one page, so you should only put the relevant information there. On the contrary, an Australian CV should be longer to contain the full and detailed information.


Here, the recommendations are the same: it is best to include all the contact information, so that the company could reach back to you as soon as possible by the most desired means for them: by mail, email, phone, or social media.

Such personal details as birth date, marital status, and photo, on the other hand, are best omitted, since they may cause discrimination.


In the brief American resume, you should only include your skills and strengths relevant to this particular job, whereas in an Australian CV you should include everything there is to talk about. This is because Australian companies tend to add the CVs to databases so they may get back to you about a different job opening with different skill requirements.

However, in both instances, you should understand the clear difference between skills and strengths (or competencies. A strength is something of a personal trait that you have, whereas a skill is what you have gained as a result of your past experience. For example, being a team-worker is a strength, and being good with WordPress is a skill.


Once more, an American resume will only include the relevant entries, while an Australian CV should list everything there is to list.


In the US, it is a good idea to add a sentence or two about what kind of person you are in general. The employers like to know who they are to hire. An Australian CV, on the other hand, is colder and more technical, and your personality is something to reveal no sooner than at the interview.


References are growing less relevant nearly everywhere. However, it is always worth mentioning that you can provide them if necessary.

Author's Bio: Kevin is a professional educator and a private tutor with over 8 years of experience. He is also a content writer for various blogs about higher education, entertainment, social media & blogging. During his off time, Kevin enjoys traveling and cooking. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter, Linkedin & Google+.

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