The chronological résumé is the most common of the various résumé formats and therefore the format that employers are most used to receiving. This type of résumé is easy to read and understand because it details the chronological progression of jobs you have held. (See Exhibit 2.1.) 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 résumé will highlight these achievements. The typical elements of a chronological résumé include the heading, a career objective, educational background, employment experience, activities, and references.
The heading consists of your name, address, telephone number, and other means of contact. This may include a fax number, e-mail address, and your home-page address. If you are using a shared e-mail account or a 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 or fax! Likewise, if your résumé directs readers to a personal home page on the Web, be certain it’s a professional personal home page designed to be viewed and appreciated by a prospective employer. This may mean making substantial changes in the home page you currently mount on the Web.
Without a doubt the objective statement is the most challenging part of the résumé for most writers. Even for individuals who have 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 résumé writing process.
Keep the objective as short as possible and no longer than two short sentences.
Choose one of the following types of objective statement:
1. General Objective Statement
- An entry-level educational programming coordinator position
2. Position-Focused Objective
- To obtain the position of conference coordinator at State College
3. Industry-Focused Objective
- To begin a career as a sales representative in the cruise line industry
4. Summary of Qualifications Statement
A bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and four semesters of progressively responsible co-op experience in the chemical industry, which involved testing and developing technical specifications for a new analyzer system and supporting Technical Service in the area of organic and inorganic pigments, pigment dispersions, additives, and universal colorants for specialized coatings.
Support Your Objective. A résumé that contains any one of these types of objective statements should then go on to demonstrate why you are qualified to get 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 the résumé, the objective looks unsupported. Think of the résumé 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 résumé 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 location, and then the month and year of graduation. This section could also include your academic minor, grade point average (GPA), and appearance 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 not traditionally
associated with the 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:
- Master of Engineering Management, Duke University, Durham, NC, May 2007; Emphasis: Innovative Management
- Bachelor of Science, Industrial Engineering, Georgia Tech University, Atlanta, GA, August 2007; Concentration: Large-scale optimization and computing; Minor: Economics; GPA 3.75/4.0
- Master of Science, Electrical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, May 2007; Thesis: VLSI Design for Image Processors
The experience section of your résumé 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 that transfer from one situation to another. The fact that you coordinated a student organization, chaired meetings, supervised others, and managed a budget leads one to suspect 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 such as “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 such as the following: “My duties included helping with production, proofreading, and editing. I used a design and page layout program.” An action statement would be stated as follows:
“Coordinated and assisted in the creative marketing of brochures and seminar promotions, becoming proficient in Quark.”
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 résumé, 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.
Here are some traits that employers tell us they like to see:
- Energy and motivation
- Learning and using new skills
- Critical thinking
- Understanding how profits are created
- Organizational acumen
- Risk taking
- Communicating directly and clearly, in both writing and speaking
- Willingness to admit mistakes
- High personal standards