July 25

Plant Operator Resume: Nail it with this step by step guide

By Amanda Datchens

July 25, 2020

Don’t want to pay a professional writer for your Plant Operator resume but seriously need to update it for your next gig? We’ll show you how...


Let’s start with being honest. This is the last thing you want to do, right?

It wasn’t so long ago that you scored your next job with a good word in the right ear and a handshake.

Mateship is still important to find out about jobs, but applications now involve resumes – and you need to have bloody good one, not something you threw together just to ‘get it done.’

You know you are good at your job, your supervisor knows you are good at your job, but now you have to get it down on paper and convince everyone else.

This guide will help you do exactly that.

I’m going to walk you through each section of your resume with what to include and not include.

I can’t say you are going to enjoy doing this, but I can tell you that once you are done, you’ll have a resume that will really help sell you into your next big project.

Let’s get started by briefly covering a few common mistakes I see all the time when I review people’s resumes.

3 Common mistakes to avoid on a plant operator resume 

Perhaps your current resume is guilty of some of the following?

Not starting with a strong profile 

After your contact details, this is the first thing a recruiter or hiring manager will see, so you need to get this right. First impressions count just like they do at the beginning of an interview.

You profile needs to set the scene, highlight keywords and skills and outline your background, providing a concise snapshot to prove you are the perfect fit for a role.

Recruiters and Applicant Tracking Systems will be speed reading and screening your resume in the first instance so, if you want to get shortlisted, you need to give them what they want to see right at the beginning. If they don’t find what they want straight away, they may not bother reading on, especially if they have hundreds of applications to get through.

If you don’t have one or know that yours needs improving, I have a section on that coming up.

Failing to provide plant and model details 

Clue in the name as they say!

Again, think of keywords that recruiters and ATS are searching for. Don’t just say Excavators, Graders and Haul Trucks, provide the model details to.

You are aiming to match the job criteria as tightly as possible and every little thing makes a difference in a competitive market.

Listing jobs without duties

This is very common for plant operator resumes.

So many just have dates with something like ‘operating various plant’ next to them.

We are going to go through this more thoroughly with examples, but you need to know that you have to give much more information to change it from a list to an actual resume.

So now we have covered what not to do, let’s concentrate on what you should be doing.

Choosing the right format for a plant operator resume 

Quick question.

Have you downloaded a fancy template for your resume? The kind that has columns, and graphs and boxes to make your content stand out?

If the answer is yes, then you need to ditch it right now.

Here is a whole article I wrote over on Real Life Career Advice on why recruiters and ATS hate fancy resume templates, but I will summarise it here.

When you apply online for a job, most companies will have an Applicant Tracking System or ATS that will try to parse your information into an applicant database.

They are going to want to record your contact details, employment details with dates, education and qualifications, but it doesn’t stop there.

ATS are also programmed to search for key words and skills that recruiters and hiring managers are looking for.

It will grade your suitability for a role according to what it was able to find in your resume. The higher the grade, the more chance you will be shortlisted for an interview.

Here’s the issue.

Up to 75% of resumes are rejected for online jobs just because Applicant Tracking Software can’t extract the information it needs due to design.

Up to 75% of resumes are rejected for online jobs just because Applicant Tracking Software can’t extract the information it needs due to design.

Some ATS are more sensitive than others but these are the sort of things that they find hard to read and understand.

  • Photos
  • Tables
  • Graphs
  • Pretty headers and footers
  • Multiple columns
  • Curly serif fonts
  • Special icons for bullets

I realise that you may not be keen to give up your template that looks great but remember this.

That fancy style that you love so much might be precisely the reason why you aren’t hearing back from your applications.

What you should be using is a plain, reverse chronological style format that ATS can easily read.

Plus, recruiters prefer this too because they can find what they are looking for quickly rather than having to search loads of boxes and columns in weird places.

The content of you resume should shine, not the pretty fonts and diagrams.

They are looking for an plant operator, not a graphic designer!

With that said, let’s get that perfect content written.

Contact details – yes, you can get this wrong 

Don’t use a huge font for your name and address or even worse, put it on a separate page by itself. You want the recruiter or ATS to get straight into your profile.

Make sure that you put your full contact details on your resume. By that I mean your postal address, your email, and the best number to contact you on.

If you are cutting and pasting this from an earlier resume, make sure it is up to date. It might sound silly, but I actually know someone who put their old mobile on and missed out on a contract because of it.

And when it comes to humour, just don’t. Get rid of funny voicemail messages and emails like bigfatharry@something.com

They might laugh – but then they might not, and then move on to someone else.

How to write a great plant operator resume profile

This should go just underneath your contact details and provide that snapshot we talked about earlier.

Take care not to use generic stock phrases and clichés like ‘great teamworking skills’ and instead be specific with something like ‘worked in a high performing team of 15 in a multi-million-dollar project that completed on time and in budget with zero safety incidents in a challenging brown field environment.’

Your profile needs to mention plant, projects, employers, safety, flexibility round shifts, FIFO /DIDO and your RII’s or other relevant tickets.

Let’s look at this in practice.

Have a look at these two different profiles. Which do you think has more to offer?

Candidate A

I started as an apprentice at a meat factory about 30 years ago and since then I have worked in a variety of jobs in shops, the motor trade and lately in the resources industry. In the last couple of years, I have gained some tickets and I can operate lots of machinery. I am reliable and a real team player. I also have good time management skills. I am flexible about whatever opportunities you may have available.

Or how about this one?

Candidate B

A highly competent and versatile Operator with a proven background of working with a strong focus on zero harm.  Experience of operating and RII ticketed for Excavators including Liebherr 996,984, PC 1250 Komatsu 5500 & Cat 6040, Haul Trucks, CAT 777 & 789, Graders, Water Carts, Front End Loaders CAT 993K & 980H, Moxys, Roller, Backhoe Skid Steer, Dozers CAT D10 and D11 and various trucks and floats. This experience has been gathered over the last 20 years within LNG, Mining (Standard 11 & BMA Core), Quarry, Bulk Earthworks and Road Construction as well as general civil and infrastructure work. Projects have included, Gladstone Port Corporation, Curtis Island, BMA Blackwater Peak Downs, Boundary Hill, Yarwun Quarry, Cadia Valley Mine, Middlemount South and Pluto for significant employers including QES, Leighton, Laing O’Rourke and Bechtel.  Able to successfully integrate into high performance teams in high dollar value environments, either remote or local, and committed to continuous self-improvement. Physically fit, seeking a role anywhere in Australia, flexible regarding shifts and has excellent references.

This is the same person. The first was his original profile and the second was the one we wrote for him. Same person, same skills but very different results.

After searching for work unsuccessfully for just over a year, within three weeks of using his new resume he was hired.

Now it’s your turn.

Here is a formula you can use as a base to write yours.

Remember to tailor it to the position you are applying for by carefully reading the job description, noting keywords and skills they require, and matching them in your profile so you ‘speak the same language.’

By doing this you lock in your suitability in the head of the reader right from the beginning whilst also satisfying ATS systems.

An / a [adjective(s)/strong character trait(s)][your job title] with [years experience of key skill…] within [ name companies/industries/sectors]. Skilled in [ key areas ] underpinned by [ qualifications ]  [ Key achievements ]  Seeking a challenging position where all skills and experience can be used to a positive effect and available [ when ].

Nailing your work history section

This is the layout you should use for each of your jobs

Beginning of work history section on a plant operator resume

Beginning of work history section on a plant operator resume

Always start with your role title, then the company, and then a descriptor of that company or the project you are or were working on. Add the dates, months and years, on the right hand side.

The descriptor

The descriptor is very important because it adds more substance to your resume, provides the opportunity for including more keywords and lets the recruiter know the specific environment you worked in.


Regarding listing your duties, we have already covered the need to list plant and models.

You should then be aiming for 6-8 bullet points explaining the work you carried out.

If you are stuck, just think of each aspect and expand from it.

Here are a few examples.

Think about what you are or were working on. Is it batters, dams, bunds, production haulage, stockpiles, bulk earthworks, trenches etc. That could be more than one bullet point.

Then maintenance, what about pre-starts, plant shutdown, logging hours, greasing oil etc. This information shows people that you think and look after your machines.

Then Safety, following all Company and Clients OHS procedures: JSAs, JHAs, and Start Cards.

Mention active involvement in toolbox and prestart meetings.

Other additional duties could be labouring, housekeeping, and supporting colleagues to show you are a team player.

Brainstorm down everything you can think of and then edit it into those 6-8 bullet points.


Don’t forget to add your achievements too.

You might think this is difficult but what about LTI free periods?  Being part of a team that completed something ahead of time or under budget?  You were part of that achievement. 

Other things could be 100% attendance, successfully upskilling or working in particularly challenging environment.


Don’t skimp on information if it was just a short project. Give it the same attention because you will then score more keywords.

But also, don’t give your life story.

Repeat this pattern for the last 5-6 jobs or a period of 10 years, whichever comes sooner, and then place your other jobs as lineage like this.

Adding a previous work section to a Plant Operator Resume

Adding a previous work section to a Plant Operator Resume

How to list your tickets and other important information

Now it’s time to add a list of all relevant tickets and, where possible, you should add the RII Codes as well.

Don’t be tempted to put these in boxes though. Yes, it’s true that boxes look better but if ATS can’t access this information due to the design, then you are not going to get shortlisted.

Adding qualifications, licences and tickets to a Plant Operator Resume.

Adding qualifications, licences and tickets to a Plant Operator Resume. Not as pretty as in fancy box but this version can be read by ATS

Don't forget to add in other information that will help your application such as these.

Additional information for a Plant Operator Resume

Additional information for a Plant Operator Resume

Adding the right referees

Never put ‘references available upon request’ because a recruiter wants them there, ready to go when they are onboarding a volume of people for a new project.

They might have time to chase you for them but then again – they might just move on to someone who has already included them.

Harsh yes, but true all the same. Volume is volume, and time is money.

Take care who you choose as referees and brief then about what you are applying for, so they are ready for a call or email.

You want people that really know you and understand the value you can bring to a project.

If you sense any reluctance, move on to another person that is more positive.

Make sure you forward your new resume to them too.

Just because they worked alongside you doesn’t mean they know about all your skills and achievements.

Ideally you should provide four so that a recruiter has a good range to choose from and take care to include their full contact details.

It's always good to say where they were your supervisor as they, like you, have probably moved to a different project.

Referee section on a Plant Operator Resume

Referee section on a Plant Operator Resume

Final thoughts

Yes, this will take a bit of effort on your part, but it will be so worth it.

Look at your current resume now. Can you see issues with it?

Then think about everyone else who has the same or worse.

Get ahead of your competition by working on your resume now.

If you need a little extra help, try this free course that helps you get your resume past ATS and includes a resume template to work from.

Beat the ATS Bots!

Mini course to get your resume past Applicant Tracking Systems. Includes resume template.

Or, if you are now more confused than ever and not sure what to do, drop me a comment below with a question or go to this page for a personal resume review and I will tell you which areas you need to work on.

Found this useful? Please share.

Amanda Datchens

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About the Author

A career coach, headhunter, and entrepreneur, Amanda has founded and been involved in developing multiple companies known for innovative HR and recruitment solutions. Originally from London but now in Queensland, Australia, she is the co-founder of the Hi Vis Hub and Real Life Career Advice.

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