I graduated from University in September. I've been working a retail job since October. This is just to have a source of income. I'm actively looking for a full time position related to my degree (Computer Science). Should I mention that I am currently working in a retail job? Should I mention it's just for a source of income and I don't plan on making a career out of it? Also where should it be mentioned: in the cover letter, resume or just in person?

I do have experience from my school's co-op program. So in my work history should I put relevant work first and leave the retail store at the bottom, or should I keep work history chronological and have the retail store at the top? I don't want to give the wrong impression.

  • It's not in your question, but depending on where you are from, an interviewer most likely will ask why you didn't have a job lined up before you graduated. (Your degree is CS, after all.) You need to be prepared to answer that interview question. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 14:19

4 Answers 4


Should I mention that I am currently working in a retail job?

You are learning some soft skills here : cooperation and patience for instance. While you are not getting any hard skills in your main domain (computer science), knowing that someone is becoming professional instead of just waiting for the perfect job can be a positive signal for a recruiter.

I would definitely mention it, and explain why I took the job in an interview if that question arises.

Should I mention it's just for a source of income and I don't plan on making a career out of it?

Given your degree and the field you are looking at, I would not mention it in the resume. It should be pretty obvious when you send a coding CV with a coding degree, that you're looking at a coding job. As mentioned above, if the question arises during an interview, you can mention it - but I do not see any interest in mentioning this in the CV.

Should I put relevant work first [...] or should I keep chronological ?

Both are fine, to be honest. If you have a lot of old, relevant work, you could opt in for the "relevant work first" approach. This boils down to personal preference and interpretation.


You're dismissing the retail job as irrelevant. It is not. Retail is incredibly demandin (generally), and your employment there will show that you are capable of the basics of being employed: turning up on time, working a shift, being properly dressed, etc.

As for the order, I like to keep things chronological, but I have seen CVs that prioritise the more relevant jobs over those less so. The choice is yours.

  • 1
    Very, very few of the skills important for retail transfer to office work. Being on time and having a reasonably professional attitude is just about it and those are frankly baseline standards for the workplace. I agree that someone with that experience has a more valuable profile than someone without but the large lack of relevant experience since graduation is working against OP and undoing most of that. A good hiring process can select for those qualities with a reasonably high success rate.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 9:29
  • @JoeStrazzere Which is why I pointed out that while that would normally put him ahead of other graduates, the fact that he's unemployed so long after graduation will largely undo that small advantage.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 12:18
  • @JoeStrazzere For CompSci it's getting there. The good ones are typically hired before they even graduate and the longer OP goes without moving into his actual field the more potential employers will wonder why he hasn't done so sooner.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 23:29
  • @JoeStrazzere I think Lilienthal means "employed in OP's desired field" rather than employed at all
    – JohnHC
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 8:48

The chronological format is holy and inviolate. Deviating from it risks being seen as trying to fuzz dates or hide gaps. What you can do is to split work experience into two sections: Relevant and Other Work Experience. But in those sections you still need to use chronological order.

Breaking with chronological order is something that you shouldn't do lightly so splitting your work history only makes sense when you actually have significant work experience, which you don't seem to. A single internship and a single retail job don't justify two sections and breaking chronological flow.

Even if you had more experience, you'd only create two sections if doing so makes your resume significantly more interesting and faster to skim/read.

Whatever you do, stay away from functional resumes. Those do away with chronological (almost) entirely and are considered dated and a potential red flag for hiring managers.


Fresh-out resumes are always a bit difficult to write because of lack of experience. You do have some work experience, the retail job you eventually want to sweep under the rug, and your co-op job (or jobs).

At least this time around, I would put that retail job on your resume, and I would put it first ("the chronological format is holy and inviolate": Lilienthal). That you have been working as opposed to lounging around between graduation and the present is a plus. One or two lines will do. This is a fresh-out resume, after all. You need to keep it short. Put more emphasis on your work-related co-op jobs.

You can eventually sweep that retail job under the rug if you so wish. Later on, you'll be categorizing your work history in terms of years rather than year and month. That gap between your graduation in September 2016 and your first professional job sometime in 2017 will vanish.

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