chronological resume?

A reader writes:

Having been in the working world for 7+ years (post college), I’ve racked up a variety of professional experiences (have had 4 different full-time jobs, as well as done some complementary contract work on the side). I’m currently considering a new opportunity in which not ALL of my professional experiences necessarily apply. Likewise, some of my non-professional experiences from college are VERY applicable. My resume is getting quite lengthy these days, but I’m hesitant to remove any of the jobs that I have because, a: it would result in seeming gaps in employment, and b (more importantly): even though these experiences don’t necessarily speak directly to this new opportunity, they’ve still been an important part of my professional development. I’m curious as to whether you have any advice for how to organize a resume in this situation. To date, my resume has always been organized chronologically, but I’m beginning to think that perhaps a different approach is more fitting. (ie, most applicable to least applicable).

Some people will disagree with me, but I hate resumes that are organized in any way other than chronologically. It makes it look like the candidate is trying to disguise something, and it makes it difficult for me to sort out the person’s career progression. So keep the chronological organization.

But four jobs and some work on the side should easily fit on a one-page resume, as long as you’re being choosy and concise about what details you include about the work you did there (by the way, to whatever extent possible, include achievements rather than a job description).

But if there’s work on there that doesn’t relate to the jobs you’re applying for — and which wouldn’t leave a sizable gap if you excised them — you could leave those off. Definitely do include the relevant college experience, though, even though it wasn’t paid — I’m continually surprised by how often I discover “hidden” experience in a phone interview, which the candidate left off the resume simply because it wasn’t paid work. Good luck!

{ 3 comments… read them below }

  1. Evil HR Lady*

    I agree. Whenever I see a resume arranged any other way, I immediately start looking for unexplained gaps in employment, or hidden companies that they don’t want me to know about.

    Each resume should be tailored to the position you are applying for anyway.

  2. Productivity Guy*

    I agree, too. Chronological is the way to go… furthermore, I generally look at resumes fast enough that I don’t always notice gaps in resumes (unless they are really big), or, if I do, but I otherwise like the candidate, I’ll hold judgment until the interview.

    Furthermore, another option is to include all the jobs but don’t list any specifics about them – a.k.a. just one line of text. That fills in the gaps but doesn’t take up much space – or waste the time of the hiring manager. That’s just something I’d consider – don’t know if it’s the best advice.

  3. Marla Beard*

    Skill based resumes can be used to highlight, not hide.

    A lot of people leave student work such as unpaid internships off their resumes because many online application systems won’t take a position unless you have some pay amount to list–and they won’t take $0.00.

Comments are closed.