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Chronological resume guide - part 3

Part 3. How should I arrange my employment history? Follow these 5 simple steps to create your best chronological resume yet!

Back to the chronological resume guide part 2.

5 Steps to prepare your chronological work history

Step 1 Review your employment history

  1. List your past employers beginning with your current or most recent, ending with your first employer
  2. List each role you had
  3. Record the date and geographic location of each role as accurately as possible

List unpaid, casual, part-time and full time jobs you've held, as well as volunteer work or any type of work that contributed to the development of your knowledge, skills and competencies. This is particularly important in the early stages of your career, where you may need to draw on experience gained while studying or through volunteer work.

Clearly state the dates you were employed using full years (2005 - 2007) or months and years (Jan 2005 - Oct 2007). Full years can help to obscure gaps between employment. If neccessary you can clarify these during your interview.

Step 2 Clean up your employment history

If your career is young, or you are still at school, include any part-time jobs or jobs unrelated to your objective. At this point in your career, any experience is good experience.

If your career is mature, omit or consolidate any part-time positions or roles where you were employed for a brief period of time. The focus of your resume should be on the last 10 years, and then on your most recent employer and positions.

Do not omit a position or employer if it will create a substantial gap in your resume. Instead consider how the position title, duties or achievements can be rephrased to build the overall message of your resume. Make it easy for your reader; change your past job titles to ones the reader will understand.

Step 3 List all your career achievements

Your achievements are the foundation of your resume. Your achievements tell the reader about your responsibilities and duties throughout your career, and how well you performed in the tasks assigned to you. They speak to your work ethic, ability, commitment and motivation.

Create a list of all of your career achievements, whether they seem related to you target position or not.

Sometimes it's difficult to recall your achievements. If you're having difficulty, try these simple techniques:

  1. Use your list of employers and positions to prompt your thinking
  2. Follow a proven model, such as the S.T.A.R. model
  3. Using you list of your knowledge, skills and competencies to prompt your thinking

Example achievement statements

  • Improved usability by 50% over 14 months as measured by click-thru and deep page views
  • Decreased staff turnover in the design area by 25% by implementing monthly review sessions with each staff member

If you need more ideas or would like to learn how to discover your own achievements, click here.

Step 4 Select and phrase your most relevant achievements

The more relevant achievements you can provide to support your employment history, the better.

Include achievements related to your technical skills and your transferable skills. Technical skills are those specific to a particular job area; for instance 'computer programming in the C+ language' is a technical skill.

Transferrable skills including persuasion, negotiation, problem solving etc.

Don't make the common mistake of omitting achievements related to your transferrable skills. If there are many technically skilled applicants, your transferrable skills might just prove the edge you need.

If any achievements seem irrelevant to your target role, see whether you can reword or re-classify them so they can be included.

Step 5 Explain any gaps in your employment history

The chronological resume style emphasises dates of employment. Any gaps between the end of one role and the beginning of another will be obvious, and a reader might conclude incorrectly that a gap relates to some type of adverse career event.

Common gaps are maternity leave, unemployment, travel and so on. If you can, justify the gap with a one line explanation.

Example

  • Between January and July 2004 I travelled internationally with my family.

Advice to graduates

  • Consider renaming this section 'experience' (rather than employment history), which will allow you to include non employment-related duties in place of paid work experience.

  • Consider changing the order of 'employment history' and education, in the absence of any significant employment information.

What to leave out

There is endless information you might be tempted to include in your resume. Use discretion. Information like photos, family details, hobbies etc. can detract from an otherwise powerful and focussed resume, lessening its overall impact.

Every word in your resume should work to build your overall message. If in doubt, leave it out.

For more on this topic, click learn about optional resume information.

Resume presentation and language

As your personal sales document, your resume should reflect your personal qualities. If you are sloppy or careless with spelling and grammar, if your resume is difficult to scan or peruse, if your resume is boring and lifeless, then expect the reader to associate these qualities with you.

Pay close attention to factors such as formatting, spelling, grammar and document layout. The reader will expect that you have invested all the time you needed to get your resume just right. There are no excuses for presentation errors.

Use active language to give your resume life and energy.

Click to learn all about correct resume formatting, presentation and language.

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