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Timeline Resumes. An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

In a tough job market, could a simple change to your resume make the difference in whether or not you get an interview?

Posted by:    Category: Tips and Techniques

When job seekers are presenting a resume of their professional life, it is often a blur of times and dates which have no meaning to a reader/employer looking through dozens or hundreds of similar resumes. The tasks are always the same submitting a resume:

  • How do I stand out from the crowd?
  • How do I simply and clearly explain my skills and experience to a potential employer?

Presenting the employer with a timeline resume can be surprisingly effective in meeting these tasks and may be just the tool you need to land your next job.

What exactly do you mean by ‘Timeline Resume’?

Generally, a standard resume could be considered a chronology – a text-based list of events in your professional career, organized by time of occurrence. You’ve seen these boring resumes… and so has every employer. He probably has a stack of them on his desk right now. A timeline resume would expand on the normal text-based design by using a graphic-based approach. With Timeline Maker software, you can easily create this style of graphic and add some excitement and creativity to your resume.

But is a timeline resume appropriate?

You definitely want to dress the part. There may be jobs and employers who want a traditional resume and going against this norm could hurt your chances of getting an interview. But for any job that requires creativity or attention to detail, a timeline could really set you apart. Some users of Timeline Maker try to cut through the red tape of facts and show the whole picture at a glance. One user, a police investigator, showed his skill of preparing a case timeline by using a timeline chart of his professional history in his own resume! He got the job.

One printable timeline can equal a lifetime of experience.

Another user, a businessman and lifetime Lions Club volunteer, wanted to present his background at a glance. He wanted to show the skills he had developed both in business and community service. Turns out, when put together on a timeline inside a resume, they showed a unique life history that crossed several skill sets and gave him the image he wanted to portray. Below is the timeline he used (some information was changed to keep it anonymous):

An example of a timeline resume that was created by a Timeline Maker user.

Read more about how creative resumes landed the candidates interviews at Google and other top jobs.

How to make your own resume timeline.

So how do you make a timeline-based resume? As mentioned above, Timeline Maker software is a great option for creating your timeline. Also, lucky for you, Timeline Maker is available as a free trial here. For my example, I will be using a resume template from Microsoft Word and replacing the work experience section with a timeline graphic. Follow these simple steps to create your own timeline resume:

  1. Download and install Timeline Maker.
  2. Enter your professional experience as events in the event entry screen. This could be simply work experience, as I am doing, or as in the example above, show your work experience, your volunteering, your mentoring, and your training and skills for a more complete timeline resume.

    Timeline Maker’s data entry screen. Enter your work experience into the event name with a start date.

  3. Once all of your work experience has been entered, create your timeline by selecting the chart tab. The program will allow you to choose between a bar style timeline and a flag style timeline. A bar chart does a great job of showing the duration of an event, so if you want to emphasize how long you worked at a particular place, a bar chart is your best option. But if you want to simply show a number of events, for example, you worked at various positions and want to display them equally, than a flag chart will be best.

    Timeline Maker allows two type of charts – bar chart or flag chart.

  4. Now it is time to style your timeline resume. Timeline Maker has a number of built-in themes, but you can also customize the chart to fit your own personal style. The example timeline above displays each category of experience as a different color. This helps differentiate between the categories.
  5. Export the timeline as a graphic file. Then import the image in place into your Word Resume Template. If you are making a resume like the example above, simply export as a PDF and it will be ready for print.

The Results

A standard resume built from a Word template vs a timeline resume with a graphic from Timeline Maker.

Of the two resumes above, which one is more likely to grab an employer’s attention? A timeline-based resume. New. Different. And it may just get you in the door for an interview.

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The Timeline Maker blog is your source for tips, tutorials, downloads and news. It is here to help you get the most out of our Timeline Maker software. The program is available as a free trial below.