Your resume will be one of the first impressions you make on an employer, and so it is important that you make it count. If a recruiter finds it difficult to read your resume, your chances of being called in for an interview will be impacted.
One of the most popular methods of formatting a resume is to use the chronological approach. The chronological resume is a resume where you list your professional experience from most to least recent.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss the basics of chronological resumes, who should use this type of resume, and what you should include in a chronological resume.
What is a Chronological Resume?
A resume, or CV, is a short document that outlines your work experience, skills, projects, and skills to an employer—this is likely one of the first things you learned about when you started looking for career advice.
Chronological resumes are a type of resume that presents your skills by listing your work and professional experiences in reverse chronological order. This means that your most recent jobs appear at the top of your resume, and your least recent jobs will appear toward the end of the resume.
(Technically speaking, the chronological resume should be called a “reverse chronological” resume. In fact, this term is sometimes used to discuss the resume, as it more accurately reflects the order in which items appear on the resume.)
The chronological resume structure only affects the employment section of a resume—everything else will come in the order that it otherwise would on a resume.
Who Should Use a Chronological Resume?
The chronological resume is a good structure to use if you have strong experience in a particular field. This is because by featuring your most recent work experience at the top of your resume, you’ll be able to immediately show an employer that you have recent experience that is relevant to the job.
There are a few situations where you should avoid using the chronological resume format.
If you are just beginning your career, the chronological resume format may not make sense for you. This is because you’ll likely have limited experience to list in the first place. So, the experience that you’ll want to feature at the top of your resume is that which best demonstrates the skills you have acquired related to a job. In this case, a functional resume may be a better fit.
In addition, if you are changing careers, you may also want to use a different resume approach.
This is because the work experience at the top of your resume will be one of the key points an employer uses to judge you. If they see that you don’t have work experience directly related to the job, they may not consider your resume further. In this case, a combination resume may be a better fit, which prioritizes your transferable skills.
How to Write a Chronological Resume
There are a few components that make up a chronological resume. These are:
- Your name and contact details
- Your summary or resume objective
- Your work experience, listed in reverse chronological order
- Your education
- Your skills and abilities
The contents of your resume will depend on what attributes and experiences you think best showcase your skills. For instance, if you have extensive volunteer experience that you think an employer should know about, you may also want to mention it on your resume.
The main difference between a chronological resume and other resume types is in how you order the experience section. Your most recent experience—the job you most recently held—should come at the top of your resume. Any experience that follows should appear in reverse order based on when you worked in that position.
If you’re looking to write a chronological resume, the best way to start is to make a list of all the jobs you’ve had. This will help you see all the positions you’ve held, and then you can sort them based on when you held those positions.
Once you know your experience, you can decide which jobs you are going to include and list them in reverse chronological order. Each list item should be accompanied by your job title, the company name, as well as a few bullet points explaining what you accomplished in a particular role.
To learn more about how to write a resume, read our guide to technical resumes.
Chronological Resume Example
To help you write an effective chronological resume, we have prepared an example that uses the chronological structure. You can use this example as inspiration for your resume.
San Francisco, California
An organized and committed administrative assistant with three years of experience meeting the needs of executives.
D.H Paper Company
May 2019 – Present
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
- Answered and directed phone calls on behalf of Director of Sales
- Developed and maintained administrative documentation filing system
- Maintained executive contact lists of over 500 people
Hallson Paper & Co
April 2017 – May 2019
- Took charge of ordering office supplies for administrative assistants
- Responsible for taking minutes of executive meetings
- Organized and scheduled appointments on behalf of the Office Manager
Mission High School
August 2012 – June 2017
Administrative assistant skills include organizational skills, experience using the Microsoft Office suite, strong oral and written communication skills, time management, strategic planning, comfortable using technology, ability to anticipate needs, detail-focused.
As we discussed earlier, the main difference between a chronological resume and a traditional resume is the order of skills. As you can see in the above example, the candidate has ordered their experience in reverse chronological order. The rest of the resume appears as it would in a traditional resume.
The content that appears at the top of your resume is what a recruiter will read first. If you have a lot of experience in a field, then using the chronological resume format is a great way to catch the attention of an employer.
Of course, the structure of your resume is only one of many things you should consider. In addition to choosing a good structure, you should make sure that the content of your resume is in good order. For instance, when listing your professional experience, you should use bullet points to showcase your accomplishments and core responsibilities.
By using the tips in this article, you should be able to write a resume using the chronological structure that impresses an employer and lands you an interview.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.