The Post Academic Resume Series: Work Experience, Part 2
Welcome to the Post Academic Resume Series. We’ve covered the Resume Objective and how to describe your Work Experience. Now we’ll work on how to shape your Work Experience so it gets a hiring manager’s attention.
Now that you have created a list of jobs complete with bullet points describing what you accomplished on the job, you need to consider how to order your list of jobs.
This is trickier than it sounds, especially for career changers. Most people list their work experience in reverse chronological order. Anyone making the leap from academia to the hamster world might not want their last teaching job to be at the top of their resume, though.
For example, if you were a copy editor before you went to grad school, and now you want to go back to copy editing, that information needs to be at the top of your resume. People who work in HR departments are in a hurry, and chances are good that they’ll just scan your resume, so you need to make the most of the upper third of the page.
To pull this off, ditch the chronological order and divide your work experience into two categories:
Editorial Work Experience (or work experience related to whatever field you’re trying to break into)
Other Work Experience
More after the jump! Image of the Civilian Conservation Corps, public domain on Wikimedia Commons.
I divide my resume into two parts, one with my relevant work experience and the other with the rest of my work experience:
Online Writing and Editing Experience
Other Work Experience
Most of my career has involved online writing and editing, but I still list my work as a copy editor, a teaching assistant and an SAT instructor under “Other Work Experience.”
Why wouldn’t you just take the teaching stuff off your resume since that was a while ago, you ask? Assume you’ve grabbed a hiring manager’s attention by showing you are qualified for the job opening. Now the hiring manager will read your resume in detail. The hiring manager’s next step is figuring out from your resume whether or not you’re a job-hopper or had a long stretch of unemployment. They’ll look at your list of jobs, do the math, and see if you have resume holes. Trust me, hiring managers do not like resume holes.
Given the ugly economy, recent resume holes may be forgiven, and you’ll probably get an interview if you’re qualified and were consistently employed in the past. But you should still brace for questions about gaps in your resume, and that’s where the “Other Work Experience” section comes in handy.
At this stage, arrange your jobs in the order that makes you seem the most qualified. Try to get the job you’ve done that is closest to the job you want at the top of the page, and go in reverse chronological order for other relevant jobs. Then place any leftovers in the “Other Work Experience” category.