Going Out of Order

Posted March 30, 2011
By Clay Cerny

I’m currently working with two clients whose resumes do not follow a chronological order. In both cases, they worked in a field that they want to go back to.  If we followed a chronological order, the first thing a prospective employer would see is experience that has nothing to do with the job they are seeking.

In one example, a client worked for 8 years in marketing and communications.  Over the last six years he has held three jobs in sales and management.  If we had put the most recent experience first, many employers would not read down and find the relevant experience.  In another case, a client had worked for a leader in the hair care industry before she opened a retail store that she managed for five years.  Again, if we started the resume with her retail experience many employers would stop reading.  They would miss that she had spent more than ten years in senior management with the leader in her industry.

What’s the solution?  Play your strongest hand.  If it makes sense, break chronology and put your earlier experience first on your resume.  Some employers might be turned off and push the resume to the recycle pile.  More, however, will quickly see how you have the experience and skills they are looking for. Lead with your strengths.