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Chronological Resumes

What goes first – education or experience?

In general educational information follows the job experience section. However there are three situations in which education should precede work experience:
1. You are currently in school or a recent graduate.
2. You are changing careers and your education is more pertinent to the new career than your job experience.
3. You are seeking a position where specialized education is a prerequisite for employment.

Remember that whatever information is first will be what catches the employer's attention. This is why we suggest that you put your greatest asset first – whether that is education or experience.

Your education can also be listed in a chronological or functional format, so we recommend you read these sections first before typing up your education section. Even if education is your biggest asset, it should still come after the career profile section, if you are using one (but before the work experience section).

How long should my resume be?

Usually most resumes are one page long. Your employer is going to be reading a lot of resumes so a long resume will not be greeted with enthusiasm. However, sometimes you will have more information that will help you land a job that simply cannot fit on one page. In those situations, by all means go to two pages. You do not need to completely fill the second page if you use one.

Whatever you do, do not go to three pages or more. The employer will feel that you lack communication skills and will most likely start reading your resume with exasperation.

The chronological form is useful when:

- Your work and volunteer history show stability.
- You have been working in one field for a period of time and are seeking another position in that area.
- You have had steady progression with increasing responsibility.
- You have worked for at least one year for all full-time employers that you have had.

If you have gaps in time between jobs or in your education, this may not be the most suitable format for you. However, if you do choose this format, be prepared to account for the gaps during the interview.


For combination and chronological format resumes, this is the section on which employers generally place the most value.

The first thing that you should decide is whether you want to group paid and unpaid experience together or have separate sections. If you do not have very much paid experience, then you should group them together. If you are grouping them together then appropriate headings might be: "Experience" or "Professional & Volunteer Experience." However, many have held both paid and unpaid positions simultaneously. Listing these in the same section in reverse chronological order may confuse the employer. If you have at least three paid positions, devote a separate section to them. You might call this section "Work Experience." If you include a volunteer experience section, have it follow the work experience section and use the same guidelines provided below.

How far back should you go? If you do not have a lot of work experience it is a good idea to include all of it. On the other hand, if you have 20 years of experience, then you do not need to include all of it, unless you have a good reason for doing so. Our suggestion is to include only those positions that are relevant to the position you are applying to.

Information requirements for this section include: the employer's name, location (city & province), dates of employment, position/job title, summary of responsibilities and accomplishments. You do not need to include the full address, supervisor's name and contact number unless the employer specifically requests it. It's a good idea to leave out the months, not only because this is an easy area to make mistakes in, but also because it will help cover any gaps you may have in your employment history.

State the full name of the corporation rather than using acronyms that may not be familiar to a prospective employer. For dates of employment include the start and end dates. The month and year are sufficient. Do not embellish your job title to make it sound more glamorous than it really was. Unless the job title given to you by the company was unusual stick to that one. In the case that it may be unusual, for example "group leader," you may use something more common, such as "supervisor."

When describing duties and accomplishments, in general the more recent the job the more detail you should provide. However, if a previous work experience is more relevant to the type of work you are seeking now, then more detail on that experience should be conveyed. When providing details of the positions you held, include three pieces of information:

1. Basic responsibilities, industry or company specific information.
2. Specific skills required.
3. Accomplishments/achievements

Try and keep responsibilities brief. Devote more space to your accomplishments. If your job title is relatively explanatory you do not need to go into detail on the specifics. For instance if you were a "Customer Service Representative", you need not explain what a customer service representative does.

Whenever describing accomplishments be precise. If possible, quantify your results. For example, "reorganized order processing procedures to reduce time required by 30%."

Chronological Format Examples

Here is an example for someone involved in software sales:

Software Consultant: Aerosoft Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia (1999-present).
Market network-based software engineering application
• Sell to large companies worldwide. Includes contract negotiations, and software demos.
• Created client base of 200 in 15 months, contributing to strong growth.
• Awarded top sales in region for 1999

Customer Service Representative: Trigun Inc., Richmond, British Columbia (1997-1999)
• Managed sales support and service to clients using inventory control software
• Exceeded goals in set-up time for new clients by an average of 20% in hours per client

Promotions

Promotions are something you should be proud to communicate, but they are often not conveyed clearly. One way to display that you have been with a company for a long time and received promotions is to first list the company name, location, and when you first started with the company. Then list your most recent position and how long you've held that position, along with your responsibilities and accomplishments. Following this should be the position you held before and so on.

Promotion Example

Bigstar Development Corporation - Toronto, Ont., 1984 – present

Marketing Director – 1992 - present
Oversee regional marketing departments.
Developed marketing plans for 4 regional campaigns.
Increased total sales by 15% annually.

Western Marketing Manager – 1988 – 1992
Oversaw implementation of marketing plans.
Supervised 14 sales executives.
Increased western market share from 16% in 1989 to 35% in 1991.

Marketing & Sales Executive – 1984 – 1988
Managed total of 16 sales accounts, 8 of which were among firm's top 15 high volume customers.
Achieved highest sales in 1996 and 1997.
You can use the sledgehammer approach and add "Promoted to..." in the titles if you feel they will miss the hint.