The Resume

Career Advice Cliches (Part 2)

In my “Career Advice Cliches (Part 1)” article, I talked about the career advice cliche I disliked the most.  I hear career advice cliches often and I dislike them because the advice is typically vague, tends to over-simplify things, or it is outdated but people have heard it so much, they continue to perpetuate it.  So, part 2 of my rant on cliches I dislike the most is about resumes.

When Writing Your Resume, List Experience in Reverse Chronological Order
Resumes are advertisements so every design decision must be made strategically.  I don’t know how many times I’ve seen resumes that had experience listed in reverse chronological order when it didn’t make sense only to hear from the candidate that someone told them they were “supposed to do it that way.”  Relevant experience is what should be emphasized for jobs regardless if it fits a reverse chronological format.  In fact, I often advise people who have past relevant experience to emphasize it by creating a “Relevant Experience” section on their resume which allows them to list it first regardless of where it falls in a time frame.  Any non-relevant experience, which is still valuable information, can be put in an “Additional Experience” section near the bottom of the resume to place less emphasis on it.  Knowing people read from top to bottom and left to right, a decision to design one’s resume in this fashion would at least be a strategic choice with good reasoning opposed to simply hearing that it “should be done that way”.

This is merely one example of why this cliché advice may not make the most sense for a candidate.  If one were to have a “Relevant Experience” section, the information in that section should be in reverse chronological order but when this cliche advice is given, it makes people think that their resume, in its entirety, must be written like a timeline.  Resumes are not timelines and they are not summaries so more thought must go into the design which may mean that not everything is in perfect, reverse chronological format.  There are so many idiosyncrasies to be considered that this cookie-cutter advice is to general to really think that everyone should follow it.  The only good resume is the one that is targeted and there are too many potential variations depending on the candidate and the specific job for which they are applying to say a resume should always have experience in reverse chronological order.  Good ad design requires flexibility and strategic decision-making and this advice is typically given in general terms making it oversimplified.  It can lead to a cliché resume.

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