This is an All Ears English podcast episode 1924.
How to localize your resume for Australia versus the U.S. with Pete from Aussie English.
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On the podcast today, I interview Pete Smithson from Aussie English.
Pete will give you three tips to get your resume ready for the business world in Australia,
plus a bonus tip about key spelling differences between Australia and the U.S. that you’ll
want to know.
So listen in today.
Hello Pete, welcome to All Ears English.
How are you today?
How are you going, Lindsay?
I’m excited to have you back on the show.
Guys, on the show today we have Pete Smithson back on the show again for the third time.
Pete is the creator of Aussie English and he is the host of the Aussie English podcast
and the Aussie English YouTube channel.
It’s always a good time when you’re on the show, Pete.
How’s everything going today?
It’s summer at the moment, although we’re in the middle of, I don’t know if you guys
experienced La Nina and El Nino over in America.
Do you guys have that?
So we’re in La Nina, which is a huge weather cycle period for multiple years where it’s
way too much rain.
So at the moment it’s kind of not too hot, but it’s just raining constantly despite being
in December, obviously.
And for us in the Southern Hemisphere, that’s when we have our summers.
That’s your summer.
What a weird time.
And Christmas is coming.
It’s such a strange combination of events, right?
But you’re used to it.
I was just down in the Southern Hemisphere last month and I just love the amount of light
that there is at this time of year.
It’s just incredible, you know.
But anyway, side point.
So today, Pete, we are getting into resumes, right, submitting your resume, especially
in Australia versus the US.
So Pete, in your world, before you became a creator, what did you do?
Did you apply for a lot of jobs in the 9-to-5 world or what track were you on before?
So yeah, sort of, I don’t know if it’s a point of pride or a point of embarrassment, but
I’ve never had a full-time job because I was always studying at university.
I did my bachelor’s, master’s and PhD there in biology and then always sort of had part-time
jobs whilst doing that.
And then after that finish, I ended up the podcast host and content creator online.
And that’s been my quote, full-time job ever since.
So, yeah, I did still have to do resumes, but I probably didn’t ever put in anywhere
near the sort of effort that would be required and quality control and everything like that
if you’re applying for a very professional full-time job, but still had to do it.
So, there are some differences between, I think, other countries and how they would
do things, including America and what we would do here in Australia.
Big things, the cover letter and then just being sort of succinct with your past history
and everything and not going, you know, not handing in a 10-page document because no one’s
going to read it.
Yeah, that’s what we’re going to get into today.
I’m excited to highlight specifically, you know, applying for jobs in Australia.
You know, how might it be a little bit different?
But first I want to ask you, Pete, how did you go from biology to teaching English online
and being a podcaster?
I’m super curious about that.
How did that switch happen?
It’s a bit of a long story, but I’ll try and give you the long and the short of it.
So, when I was at high school, I was doing Mandarin Chinese and then French at high school.
And so, I ended up dropping Mandarin Chinese because there was way too much competition
in terms of immigrants, immigrant children who spoke it fluently and would do that subject
to be able to dominate it at year 12.
So, I ditched it, did French, didn’t do French after that for like 10 years and lost it all
But then when I was doing my PhD, I started getting into fitness and doing a bit of martial
arts, so BJJ and mixed martial arts in Melbourne.
And I started meeting just loads and loads of foreigners who spoke different languages
and would just be surrounded by Turkish and French and Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish
and Chinese and, you know, loads of different languages and started to feel a bit embarrassed
that I only had English.
So, I started working my butt off with French and was listening to a podcast called Francais
Authentique, Authentic French.
I’m not sure if you know Johan, but he was great.
And then I’d had a bit of experience with podcasting during my science degrees, just
as sort of appearing as a, you know, quote unquote, scientist on these podcasts to talk
And when I would go to the gym and chat with my friends who were French, I would say, you
know, I’d be speaking in French with them and they would be like, you’ve been improving
What’s the secret?
I have trouble with English and Australian English is a nightmare.
And so, I was like, I’m using podcasts, so I get loads and loads of listening comprehension
every single day when I’m walking or commuting or in the lab doing work.
I can just listen to, you know, four hours of podcasts in a day.
It adds up.
And they were like, are there any for Australian English?
And I had a look and was like, no, there’s bugger all.
So, I decided to take it upon myself, I think probably 2015, the end of 2015 is when I started
and I finished my PhD in 2017, at the end of 2017.
So, there’s about two years as it was growing and by the end there, it was just starting
to get me an income.
And I was like, this looks like it could become a full-time job and I much prefer this helping
It was much more fulfilling than doing, you know, pipetting in a lab, you know, by myself
doing genetic work.
So, that was effectively the story and never looked back.
That’s the origin story.
Isn’t it cool when you get to kind of fill sort of a gap in the universe, whether there
is something doesn’t exist, right?
I can’t believe that a podcast for Australian English did not exist in the world and you
were able to fill that.
I love it.
Guys, before we get into today’s tips from Pete, I want to make sure our listeners know
where to go and check out your other episodes on All Ears English.
So, guys, Pete was on for episode 1805, where he gave us three tips for life in Australia.
We talked a little bit about the lifestyle there.
And then he was on 1366.
That must have been around 2020.
We talked about Aussie English slang.
So, guys, check out those episodes and then come right back here to this episode because
now, Pete, let’s get into it.
Tell me a little bit about your tips on how to submit a resume in or how to submit kind
of a job application in Australia.
What do we have to know that could be a little bit different from in the US or the rest of
What would be your first tip?
Well, one of the big things I used to notice when I was working in a restaurant and there
would be people coming in and handing in their resumes, quite a lot of the time they would
be from overseas and they would always have like a photo on the front of their resume
And that’s something where I was just like, you don’t need to do that.
Like, and, you know, it sort of felt weird that you put that there expecting that we
would want to see you as a photo as opposed to just in the interview or when you came
in or something.
But the other thing was it takes up so much space on the front.
And so, I would be like, you’re wasting important real estate on the front page where you could
be writing your cover letter, the succinct cover letter.
And so, my first tip here is include a succinct cover letter that’s usually just the front
page and you are displaying why you have the experience and knowledge and would be a perfect
fit for the job effectively.
And so, a big thing here too, I’ve noticed that a lot of people will create like a sort
of, what would you say, a cover letter that kind of fits all and as a result, it doesn’t
That’s the word I was looking for.
Generic cover letter.
And that is sort of a big no-no unless you are just trying to throw out as many resumes
as possible, like going fishing and hope that something jumps on the line.
That doesn’t work.
So, the advice that I’ve always had, especially from my parents who were working at universities
in the education department and doing a lot of hiring, they would always be like, read
your job application, read it clearly, work out how you are the best person for this job.
You know, even if you don’t think that’s the case, play it up as if you are and specifically
tackle points related to that job to show, to display that you have read and understood
what the job is and what they require.
And you are quickly and succinctly displaying why you are a good catch, why you’re a good
person to hire, because for the most part, and my dad was always saying this, he’d get
like a hundred applicants for a job and he’d be like, I’m only reading the first few lines
of the cover letter unless it’s a good one and then I’ll read the whole thing.
But he’s like, I don’t have time to read every single resume.
And so, you have to do a good job.
It’s that first impression, right?
So, do a good job with your cover letter, make it succinct, you know, probably review
that more than the rest of your resume, because that’s that sort of…
It’s like Tinder dates, right?
If you’re a blind date where you’re meeting someone, you want to show up as best as you
can, you know, in nice clothing, maybe with makeup on or, you know, not just fresh out
of the gym smelling horrible.
You want to put your best face forward, right?
So, yeah, do your best with the cover letter.
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But what do you think?
Is it like that in the US?
I love that you have that insider perspective, you know, watching your parents or your dad
kind of look at those letters and toss ones out just based on how he saw that.
Yeah, that’s similar in the US.
You do need to present a cover letter.
I have one question for you in Australia, and I’ve never quite known how to do this
in the US either because I’m in a similar boat.
I kind of bypassed the entire nine to five world too.
I never did it.
I completely bypassed it and I will never go to it.
So, that’s how my life has gone.
But do you copy and paste your cover letter as well as attaching it as a PDF or do you
just copy and paste it into the email with no attachment involved?
Like what is the right etiquette to go about that?
That’s a good question.
I don’t think I know really.
Like if there is a specific etiquette to it, I’d probably make sure that it’s always attached
to the front of the resume document so that they don’t miss it.
Because they can always, if you’ve copy and pasted it into the email or you’ve attached
it as a separate document, I reckon it could potentially get lost.
You know, they may miss it.
They may just forward that one file of your resume.
And again, if someone picks it up and there’s no cover letter on it, they may just be like,
well, this person’s lazy and just forgot it.
So, into the no pile.
So, I’d probably err on the side of repeating it, having it in too many places as opposed
to too few.
Just in case.
Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too, but I was never sure about that when I was applying
So, it’s good to know now.
And I completely agree with you with not putting the photo because, you know, we should be
judged based on our experience, not our photo.
It’s very irrelevant and weird to see that on a resume.
So, if you’re applying in Australia or the US, guys, don’t put your photo on the resume.
I love it.
So, Pete, what would be that second tip?
So, when writing the resume, a big one, I think, is for people who speak English as
a second language, it would be focusing on the formal kind of grammar.
And there’s probably a pretty…
There’s probably a nice balance that you need here with standard English and maybe a little
bit of formality, but not over the top.
I would probably get away with being a little over the top with formality when writing it,
because if I read it and it does sound a bit unnatural because it’s so formal, I’m still
going to think they’ve done that because they’re working really hard at producing a good document,
right, whether or not they’re a native speaker.
So, yeah, I would say avoid informal language and focus on good grammar and formal language
and formal grammar.
You can use tools like Grammarly to kind of check it.
And I haven’t used it recently, but I would imagine they probably have settings on their
I would imagine they’d have like a business English kind of setting to go through and
check because the grammar can be different.
The wording can be different that you would use.
If you don’t have access to that, obviously, you can have people proofread it who are,
you know, native speakers or not, people who have experience applying for jobs and writing
resumes or reading resumes.
And then obviously getting on Google and just finding example resumes, you know, asking
friends and family if they have example ones in English that you can read and just taking
structures, grammatical structures or sentences that make sense to put into your own resume.
Obviously, don’t plagiarise it.
And, you know, I’ve got all this experience that isn’t mine, but take those structures
that they’ve used and rewrite it into your own.
And you’re also going to be sort of working on your English simultaneously.
So, I think that’s a big one.
And it’s unfortunate, but I think it is really, really important to nail the English in your
resume, because again, if I, whether consciously or subconsciously, if I were hiring someone
and I read the resume and the English had mistakes, if I didn’t think that they were
learning English, I would probably think that they are potentially not intelligent enough
to have the job right.
Like if I thought they were Australian and they had horrible English, I’d be like, well,
this, you know, I’m going to have that conscious or subconscious bias.
But otherwise, if I think they’re learning English, I may have the bias of like, oh,
well, is the English going to be good enough?
I might be nervous.
Maybe I need to find a native speaker or not.
So, I think that’s, for better or worse, whether or not that’s okay, a big thing is going to
be just nailing your English in the resume.
So, get as many people to look at it as possible.
Check it, use Grammarly, get on your Word document and use Spellcheck, everything like
I love it.
It’s so true.
So, this is the time to really button up our English on our resume, on our cover letter,
Because, you know, it’s meant to get us the interview.
And once we get into the interview, we’ll have a little bit more leeway because the
person will know our experience, but definitely button up your English for the resume.
And by the way, yeah, Grammarly should have something for resumes.
I use Grammarly sometimes too.
And it even works on my Canva slides.
So, it’s like a plugin, is it, for your…
It’s in your browser.
For your browser.
And it just shows up on pretty much everything I do.
It’s great for native speakers, non-native, anyone, anyone and everyone who just wants
a grammar check, wants to see if there’s another word we could put in, and we can learn a lot
So, guys, I like that recommendation.
But overall, I like the idea, just get a little bit more formal when it comes to the resume
and cover letter.
Pete, what’s number three?
So, I think focusing on that succinctness throughout the entire resume, a lot of times
when I’ve read resumes, and even when I’ve written my own, you have this feeling of I
need to include everything.
I need to give everyone every bit of possible information for them to use.
But you’ve got to remember, they’re not going to be reading the majority of it.
It’s your foot in the door, and they’re just seeing whether or not they can be bothered
So, that’s why there’s that importance on cover letter first, and then the writing inside
the resume, but then keeping it succinct, avoiding waffling on about things that aren’t
important and including information that may not be relevant.
So, I would say, obviously, include, say, your most recent job experience and everything
like that for the last couple of years.
But you don’t have to go back to high school, unless you’re straight out of high school.
And also, obviously, including the stuff that is directly relevant to the job.
You know, so if you’ve worked in McDonald’s, but you’re applying to be an engineer and
you have all this other experience, there’s probably no point in including the fact that
you worked at McDonald’s, so that’s not going to do you any favours or any
negative experiences there either.
So, yeah, I would probably say keep it succinct, focus on that.
And as you said, just focus on the fact that the resume is your foot in the door.
It’s just getting you the interview and the interview is where you get to shine.
And the good thing about the interview is whether or not the interviewee or the interviewers
know, a lot of what’s going to matter there is their connection with you as a person.
Like the experience and everything is sort of the box ticking side of things.
But at the end of the day, that’s the point where they’re really trying to vet, are you
legit with your experience and can you communicate clearly and everything?
But then probably most importantly, do they like you?
Do they think you’re going to be a good fit for the team?
Are you going to be able to work with someone?
My wife was telling me this story the other day where her boss sat her down and was
like, you actually had less experience than someone else who came in for the job that you
applied for and got.
But the woman who was the boss of her boss, who was on the interview panel,
pretty much just said, nah, screw the other person.
You clearly get along with my wife really, really well, you know, with Kel.
So, she’s your human.
She’ll get the experience, but you guys obviously are going to click way more and be a better
fit for a team than this other person who had more experience, but you wouldn’t
necessarily jive with on the same level.
And so, even if you don’t necessarily have the experience that other people do, you may
just be a more personable person who fits into that role better, gets along with the
people, has a good rapport.
And the interview is where you get to show that, right?
So, yeah. Right, right.
So, we want to get to that interview.
So, keep it simple.
I love it. And I love that you use the word for our listeners, waffle on.
That is a great bonus that I just want to highlight for our listeners if that’s new, which it
might be. We use that in the States, too.
What does it mean, Pete? Just real quick.
It would be like talking incessantly, right?
Talking on and on about nothing important.
So, what I’ve done for a lot of these points, I could have probably kept them more
succinct, but I tended to waffle on a bit more than I probably should have.
And I’ll have to look into the origin, right?
Because you’d usually see the word waffle.
And I think this would be American, right?
This is that sort of grid shaped dessert that you would make out of flour and water and
like a pancake that you put in a press.
True. And in the States, it’s actually it’s a dessert.
It’s also a breakfast, believe it or not, but we like sweet things.
Yeah, go figure. I love it.
OK, so the point is here, guys, keep it simple, keep it succinct, get yourself into that
interview so then you can connect like your wife did, right?
She got the job because they liked her more often.
That’s what it comes down to, is will you get along with your co-workers?
Will you fit in in this office environment?
So good. So let’s get to the part I’m most excited about here, Pete, with this
interview is spelling.
Tell us about when we are submitting a resume or a cover letter in Australia versus
maybe the US. What do we have to be careful of when it comes to spelling differences?
Well, it’s probably not the end of the world, right?
Like it won’t matter too much if you use American spelling.
And to be fair, I think a lot of Australians probably insert words from time to time
where we’re using the American spelling without even knowing it.
But I think just to avoid showing people that you are
a foreigner or that you have foreign English or that you’re, you know, and I don’t mean
that in like a negative kind of way, but it is in this sort of a case where you are applying
for a job and it is kind of blind and they’re reading the letter and that’s all they have to go
off, I would be trying to stick in the crowd, the local crowd as much as possible.
So, if I were going to America, I would be avoiding using Australian English, Australian
slang, everything like that in the cover letter, because I would just be like, they don’t
need to be reading this and be thinking or being pulled out
of the moment where they’re meant to be just getting that information.
Right. So, a big thing would be using Australian spelling, which is just the same as
British English spelling. Right.
We got it from them. You guys are the ones that changed it, I think, in the 1800s.
Yeah. You sort of half standardised it.
Right. And so, some of it made sense with removing superfluous vowels or changing
consonants that didn’t make much sense in those places.
But, yeah, I would say make sure that you’re using Australian or British
spelling. And again, you can probably use settings in your Google Docs or Word or
Grammarly or whatever to just change the language when doing it.
And, you know, you could probably just write your resume in American English, whatever
English you use, and then just do a spell check when you change it over to
Australian, British English, and then just go through and adjust all those words.
And they’re mostly going to be nouns, really, I think.
So. So, that’s why we have to use our tools, right?
There’s no shame in having a tool like Grammarly, having a spell check, having a human
being look at it for that spelling.
Let’s talk about some examples.
So, for example, double consonants.
Tell me about that in the US versus Australia.
What are we talking about here?
Well, this is one of those things that really confuses me, because I would have thought
that the US would remove the superfluous double consonant, whereas it seems you guys
have kept the double, say, L’s, right, in words like enroll or fulfil.
At the end of those words, you’ve got two L’s, whereas in British English or Australian
English, we have one. And so, yeah, you’ll quite often see that.
And even I get confused with that.
I’ll be writing and I’ll be like, is it one L, is it two L’s?
Right. And I’ll have it on my website sometimes, you know, where I’ve used two L’s instead
of one. And I’m like, it’s Australian English and I don’t even know.
Right. And then it can get frustrating.
And why do we have that extra L?
That’s a good point, Pete. I mean, I don’t know.
We don’t need it. It doesn’t serve any purpose.
Right. So, I think it would potentially, the argument could be made that if you have those
double consonants after a vowel, it changes the vowel compared to- It makes it a short
vowel, right, instead of a diphthong or a longer vowel.
So, if I had- If you just had fulfilling and it was spelt with one L, it can
look like it’s for filing, right, or in enrolling instead of
enrolling, you know.
So, that argument could be made, but I think for the most part, it’s not that
confusing. So, it’s probably a bad example in terms of how it made a
So, words like, again, like enroll, fulfill, I’m sure there are a
bunch of other ones, but guys, that gives you a sense.
So, that’s the first one, double consonants.
And what else? Do we have an E, an ence, ending in ence, for example,
defence, offence, defence, offence?
Tell us about that. Yeah, well, and you’ve just said them with American pronunciation,
right? And I find these two words really interesting.
So, defence and offence, we would spell with British or American, British or Australian
English with a C-E at the end, whereas you guys changed it to an
S-E, which it seems to make sense, right?
Like it’s, you know, synonymous with the letter S.
Yeah. But the interesting thing is how you guys changed the emphasis and I
think even the vowel pronunciation, right?
So, you would say defence and offence.
And when I hear that as an Australian, I’m thinking you’re talking about sports
immediately. I’m thinking the defence of a basketball team or the
offence, instead of saying defence and offence.
And if you were to say defence and offence, offence, I feel as you’ve
offended someone, like you’ve said something and oh, they’ve taken offence.
And defend is like to defend with your life, right?
You’re going to protect something.
So, do you guys pronounce those all exactly the same way or do you have a difference?
It’s a little tricky now that I’m thinking about it.
So, if I say something like in my defence or a defence lawyer,
I would say defence.
But if you’re talking about sports, the defence, the offence, play defence,
play offence. So, it just depends on what we’re trying to say.
That’s amazing. Yeah. So, it is you guys as well, because, yeah, I always hear it.
And I would probably just use defence in both situations.
OK, interesting. But because I’m so used to hearing American English, I might start
saying defence and offence for sports.
But yeah, that’s a common one. And then vowels, things like the O-U, you guys changed
into just O, right? So, colour and flavour and behaviour, those sorts of words,
you’ve changed it.
And that’s a big one. They’re the kind of words that come up more frequently.
So, we’ll see those and be like, if they’ve written colour and they only have O-R, I’ll be
like, American English, Americans, American English.
When I see the way you guys spell it, it feels like it should say flavour, right?
Or colour. It’s strange to me, that’s for sure.
Yeah. Well, and you pronounce the R at the end, right, which is cool.
Whereas we would just say colour.
Right. Which I think is cool.
So, it works out both ways.
You know, we always think the accents that we don’t have sound cool, right?
I’ve always loved the Aussie accent, to be honest, more than the British accent, but we
won’t tell anyone.
I’m just going to take that clip out and then put that as one of, you know, the lines on
one of my website pages.
The last little thing I wanted to mention, sorry to interrupt you, was the dates, right?
And this is one of those biggest things that causes a lot of confusion between, I think,
just Americans and the rest of the world.
Yeah. You guys put the month first and then the day and then the year, whereas we do
day, month, year.
Yeah. And so, for the most part, it’s confusing.
Although I think if you were to, if you see that there are numbers above 12 in the middle
bit, you know, you know that it’s not a month, right?
So, you’re like, okay, they’re using the American system.
But obviously, if you’re applying for a job anywhere that isn’t America, you want to be, I
assume, you want to be using day, month, year.
Otherwise, it could lead to a bit of confusion there and vice versa.
If you’re applying for a job in the US, you want to switch it.
Yeah. So, always do it based on where you’re trying to apply.
I don’t know why we do that.
I don’t know why the rest, I mean, the rest of the world, I don’t know why we have to do it
differently than the rest of the world.
It’s very weird. And to be honest…
I feel like it was an accountant that just decided, I want to order things from 1 to 12 for
months for the financial, like tax return stuff.
It’s all their fault, right?
Yeah, we’ll have to come after that person.
But anyways, good stuff.
This has been fantastic, Pete.
You know, it’s really important to know how to essentially localize our resume and our
application so that the point is getting in the door for that interview, where then we
can fall back on connection, not perfection, and building that connection and that
relationship. Pete, this is awesome.
Could you tell us where our listeners can find you online to find your podcast or your
Yeah, just search Aussie English, so A-U-S-S-I-E English, and it
should just come up in Google.
You’ll find my website, the podcast, the YouTube channel, everything like that.
But yeah, otherwise, go to AussieEnglish.com.au.
All right, fantastic.
Thanks for coming on the show today and hope to have you on again later in the year.
Let’s do it. Thanks again.
Have a good one. Bye.
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Fred Meyer, fresh for everyone.
$35 order minimum restrictions may apply.
Subject to availability.
Save more on natural and organic items.
Just clip your digital coupons on our app and use them up to $50.
And if you’re looking for a free pickup, we’ve got you covered.
Just clip your digital coupons on our app and use them up to five times in one
transaction with your cart.
Fred Meyer, fresh for everyone.