The chronological resume case study – results

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Aug 06

Getting the resume to the point that it won’t be thrown in the electronic waste basket in under 20-seconds takes a lot of work. Much of that work is getting the first page right.

Most resumes, like my client’s, simply have contact information at the top of the resume and then a chronological listing of the work experience from now back to the first professional position and then a listing of educational qualifications with college degrees.

The resume problem

This type of resume gets thrown into the electronic trash can more often than not for the following reasons:

  • It is extremely difficult to determine what job skills the applicant has for the job. You don’t want a person (or machine) looking at your resume trying to find all of your job skills to determine if they will meet the job description. If the person (or machine) has to try too much to infer your job skills, your done.
  • Usually, chronological resumes detail job responsibilities, not job accomplishments. Business results are still the main thing hiring managers are looking for in a resume. This makes sense, because the hiring manager wants to hire a person who will help the manager reach his or her business goals.
  • Chronological resumes don’t usually put a human side with the resume. People remember stories long after the facts have faded from memory — you know, about a week after your resume shows up. But they will remember the story presented in the resume about the person and remember that there was good stuff there where they could do the job. It’s not that facts don’t count, they do. But so does the story.

The resume solution

The key to improving this type of resume is to create a first page that consolidates job skills into a single area, have a section that talks about accomplishments, and puts a human side to the applicant that tells a story.

In this case, we consolidated all of the job skills into one section as a list. This list was broken up into different categories so as to easily find the right job skills for the areas needed in the job description. Most people don’t understand to list all of their job skills; we spent a lot of time reviewing the resume to ensure all of the job skills were captured. Comparing this to the job description showed us where we met the job description requirements and where we didn’t.

In addition, a section was created to show accomplishments. These were not just accomplishments from a single position, but accomplishments across the career. Suggestions were made in the review for which accomplishments made the most sense, but the final version was up to the client.

Finally, instead of a generic “objective statement” in the resume (which rarely works), a three sentence paragraph was introduced that described this person’s career and what differentiated this person in the role from others. This is not an easy thing to do; one starts with a complete paragraph and then one needs to pare the paragraph back, capturing the essence of the person and the role.

Then, we worked on the rest of the resume

Of course, the first page is just the start. After that, we went through the balance of the resume, using the chronological formate, but significantly changing the information from responsibilities to accomplishments.

The key is that many of us who have not looked for a new position for a long time think the old rules for resumes are still in play. They are not. Instead, resumes have evolved to showing how a person’s work can help a hiring manager reach their business goals. We are selling a product to solve a need, and the product is us and our job skills. As one of my co-worker’s LinkedIn tag line notes: “Have job skills, will travel.”


I can help with a review of your resume, transforming it from a chronological piece going to the electronic trash can to one that will put you in the best position to get an interview. Take a look.