The chronological resume is the most common of the various resume formats and therefore the format that employers are most often receiving. This type of resume is easy to read and understand because it details the chronological progression of jobs you have held. It begins with your most recent employment and works back in time. If you have a solid work history or have experience that provided growth and development in your duties and responsibilities, a chronological resume will highlight these achievements. The typical elements of a chronological resume include: the heading, a career objective, educational background, employment experience, activities and references.
The heading consists of your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and your Web address. If you are using a shared e-mail account or your parent’s business fax, be sure to let others who use these systems know that you may receive important professional correspondence via these systems. You wouldn’t want to miss a vital e-mail! Likewise, if your resume directs readers to a personal home page on the Web, be certain it’s a professional personal home page to be viewed and appreciated by a prospective employer. This may mean making substantial changes to the home page you currently mount on the Web.
We suggest that you spell out your full name in your resume heading and type it in all capital letters in bold type. After all, you are the focus of the resume! If you have a current as well as a permanent address be sure to include both in the heading. The two-letter state abbreviation should be the only abbreviation that appears in your heading. Don’t forget to include the zip code with your address, the area code with your telephone number and your e-mail address.
As you formulate the wording for this part of your resume, keep the following points in mind.
The objective focuses your resume. Without a doubt this is the most challenging part of the resume for most resume writers. Even for individuals who have quite firmly decided on a career path, it can be difficult to encapsulate all they want to say in one or two brief sentences. For job seekers who are unfocused or unclear about their intentions, trying to write this section can inhibit the entire resume writing process.
Recruiters believe that the objective creates a frame of reference for them. It helps them see how you can express your goals and career focus. In addition, the statement may indicate how you can immediately benefit an organization. Given the importance of the objective, every point covered in the resume should relate to it. If information doesn’t relate, it should be omitted. You’ll find a number of resume variations in your computer. There’s no excuse for not being able to tailor your resume to individual employers for specific positions.
Choose an appropriate length. Because of the brevity necessary for a resume, you should keep the objective as short as possible. Although objectives of only four or five words often don’t show much direction, objectives that take three full lines could be viewed as too wordy and might possibly be ignored.
Consider which type of objective statement you will use. There are many ways to state an objective, but generally there are four forms this statement can take: (1) a very general statement, (2) a statement focused on a specific position, (3) a statement focused on a specific industry or (4) a summary of your qualifications. In our contacts with employers, we often hear that many resumes don’t exhibit any direction or career goals, so we suggest avoiding general statements when possible.
- General Objective Statement. General objective statements look like the following:
- An entry-level educational programming coordinator position
- An entry-level marketing position
This type of objective would be useful if you know what type of job you want but you’re not sure which industries interest you.
- Position-Focused Objective. Following are examples of objectives focusing on a specific position:
- To obtain the position of Conference Coordinator at State College
- To obtain a position as Assistant Editor at Time magazine
When you apply for an advertised job opening, this type of focus can be very effective. The employer knows that you have taken the time to tailor the resume specifically for this position.
- Industry-Focused Objective. Focusing on a particular industry in your objective could be stated as follows:
- To begin a career as a sales representative in the cruise line industry
- Summary of Qualifications Statement. The summary of qualifications can be used instead of an objective or in conjunction with an objective. The purpose of this type of statement is to highlight relevant qualifications gained through a variety of experiences. This type of statement is often used by individuals with extensive and diversified work experience. An example of a qualifications statement follows:
- A degree in English and four years of progressively increasing job responsibility within the hospitality industry have prepared me to begin a career as a manager trainee with an organization that values hard work and dedication.
Support your objective. A resume that contains any one of these types of objective statements should then go on to demonstrate why you are qualified for the position. Listing academic degrees can be one way to indicate qualifications. Another demonstration would be in the way previous experiences (both volunteer and paid) are described. Without this kind of documentation in the body of your resume, your objective looks unsupported. Think of the resume as telling a connected story about you. All the elements should work together to form a coherent picture that ideally should relate to your statement of objective.
This section of your resume should indicate the exact name of the degree you will receive or have received, spelled out completely with no abbreviations. The degree is generally listed after the objective, followed by the institution name and address, and then the month and year of your graduation. This section could also include your academic minor, and any appearances on the Dean’s List or President’s List.
If you have enough space, you might want to include a section listing courses related to the field in which you are seeking work. The best use of a “related courses” section would be to list some course work that is traditionally associated with your major. Perhaps you took several computer courses outside your degree that will be helpful and related to the job prospects you are entertaining. Several education section examples are shown here:
- Bachelor of Science Degree in English Education
State College, Plymouth, NM, May 2xxx
- Bachelor of Arts Degree in English with a Writing Option
State College, San Francisco, CA, May 2xxx
- Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
Self designed program concentrating in English and Graphic Design
State College, Columbus, OH, May 2xxx
An example of a format for a related courses section follows:
- Advanced Composition
- Desktop Publishing
- Creative Writing
- Computer Graphics
- Technical Writing
- Software Systems Design
The experience section of your resume should be the most substantial part and should take up most of the space on the page. Employers want to see what kind of work history you have. They will look at your range of experiences, longevity in jobs and specific tasks you are able to complete. This section may also be called “work experience,” “related experience,” “employment history” or “employment.” No matter what you call this section, some important points to remember are the following:
- Describe your duties as they relate to the position you are seeking.
- Emphasize major responsibilities and indicate increases in responsibility. Include all relevant employment experiences: summer, part-time, internships, cooperative education or self-employment.
- Emphasize skills, especially those skills that transfer from one situation to another. The fact that you coordinated a student organization, chaired meetings, supervised others and managed a budget suggests that you could coordinate other things as well.
- Use descriptive job titles that provide information about what you did. A “Student Intern” should be more specifically stated as, for example, “Magazine Operations Intern.” “Volunteer” is also too general; a title like “Peer Writing Tutor” would be more appropriate.
- Create word pictures by using active verbs to start sentences. Describe results you have produced in the work you have done.
A limp description would say something like the following: “My duties included helping with production, proofreading and editing. I used a word-processing package to alter text.” An action statement would be stated as follows: “Coordinated and assisted in the creative marketing of brochures and seminar promotions, becoming proficient in Word.” Remember, an accomplishment is simply a result, a final measurable product that people can relate to. A duty is not a result, it is an obligation. Every job holder has duties. For an effective resume, list as many results as you can. To make the most of the limited space you have and to give your description impact, carefully select appropriate and accurate descriptors from the list of action words in the list below.
The formula for writing targeted accomplishment statements is as follows:Begin by considering the skills needed to perform a job that is of interest to you. Then reflect on and write about situations or challenges in which you utilized those exact same skills. Use the SIR approach when you describe what you did. –authored by Susan Posluszny, CareerOptions4me.com
S – What was the situation or challenge that you faced?
I – What was your input or how did you decide to deal with the situation/challenge?
R – What was the measurable result (quantitative or qualitative) of your efforts?
Review the following two examples describing the same work function and see how they contrast. Pretend that you’re the hiring manager who’s reviewing a stack of resumes and decide who you would rather interview.
Would you select the candidate who merely lists duties?
> Raised funds to support volunteer based health clinic.
Or would you select the candidate who provided examples demonstrating specifics and proven results directly related to your hiring needs?
> Raised funds to start up a volunteer health clinic to serve a community of 8,000 citizens without prior health care. As a result, the clinic currently has 50 paid staff members and serves the health care needs of 12,000 people.
The following is a list of questions and examples to help you think of relevant achievements for your own resume.
-what projects are you proud of that support your job objective?
-What are some quantifiable results that point out your ability?
-When have you demonstrated S.I.R.’s (Situation, Input, Result)?
-When did you positively affect the organization, your boss, your coworkers, your clients?
-What awards, commendations, publications, etc., have you achieved that relate to your job objective?
-How is success measured in your field? How do you measure up?
-Are you good at using the skills required for this job? When have you demonstrated this to be true?
-What activities, paid and unpaid, have you done that used skills you’ll be using at your new job?
-When did someone “sit up and take notice” of how skilled you are?
Resume Action Verbs
Here are some traits that employers tell us they like to see:
- energy and motivation
- learning and using new skills
- demonstrating versatility
- critical thinking
- understanding how profits are created
- displaying organizational acumen
- communicating directly and clearly, in both writing and speaking
- risk taking
- willingness to admit mistakes
- manifesting high personal standards