With your chronological resume, you’re telling the linear story of your career, starting with your most recent position and working backward. In highlighting your accomplishments and responsibilities, each position will logically build upon the previous, showing how you’ve grown your skill set over time.
Chronological resumes are among the most common types of resumes for two main reasons:
1. They tend to be straightforward and easy for potential employers to follow, listing the information they’re looking for, like your work history, job responsibilities, and major accomplishments.
2. They incorporate the type of information that applicant tracking systems (ATS) are programmed to screen for. They filter qualified candidates by credentials such as job titles, company names, or role-related keywords.
Other common resume types include functional resumes, which highlight skills, or combination resumes, which mix elements of chronological and functional resumes. Learn more about [the various types of resumes you may want to consider]. In this article, we’ll walk through the chronological resume format and offer some tips as you write your own.
A reverse chronological order resume is another name for a chronological resume. Although they sound like they could be opposites, people use both phrases to refer to the same type of resume in which a person highlights their work history, starting with the most recent position.
If you have less than 10 years of work experience, you’ll likely aim to create a one-page resume, while your resume will likely be longer if you have more experience. Therefore, it’s important to be strategic with the information you include and keep it relevant to the type of job you’re hoping to get.
Your chronological resume will include several key sections:
Objective or summary (optional)
Before getting started, it may help to read through a few job descriptions for roles you are interested in. Highlight specific keywords, tasks, and skills, and make a list of ways you’ve incorporated each of them into your work experience. You’ll likely want to include most (if not all) of those list items in your resume, so keep that list nearby.
Your resume header is at the top of your resume, typically leading with your full name in a more prominent font than the rest of the document. You may choose to use a larger font size, bold text, or write in all capital letters.
On the line below your name, write key contact information, including your email address, phone number, city and state, and website or portfolio address if you have one. Try to keep this information on one line, separating each item with a vertical bar.
Depending on your work experience and job search goals, you may decide to include an objective or summary below your header. You can use either type of statement to add context to your resume.
A resume objective is an introductory sentence expressing who you are, the value you bring, and what you want moving forward. For example: “Social media coordinator with agency experience looking for a position managing social media strategy, planning, and execution for a major health care brand.”
Resume objectives can be beneficial for people who recently graduated college, are changing careers, or are looking to advance their careers.
Learn more about how to write a resume objective.
A resume summary is a brief synopsis of your career and accomplishments so far. For example, “Senior project manager with eight years of experience successfully leading large teams and identifying opportunities to reduce overhead and cost.”
Resume summaries can help people with some work experience or with varied work experience succinctly state the common themes of their careers.
Learn more about how to write a resume summary.
Your work experience is going to be the bulk of your chronological resume. For each position, you should include:
Dates of employment
Results-oriented list of accomplishments
If you choose to, you can also include one sentence summarizing your job responsibilities for each role before listing your accomplishments. You may decide to add this brief description if your job title doesn’t fully capture your range of responsibilities or if you simply prefer that organizational style.
This is the section where you’ll incorporate items from the list of keywords, tasks, and skills you created while researching job descriptions. Try to frame all of your tasks as accomplishments, focusing on the impact your work had rather than the routines. Use action words to show how you were an active participant in your work.
Be accurate, as your future employer may verify the information on your resume before finalizing your job offer.
Since your dates of employment are prominently featured, chronological resumes tend to highlight gaps in your work history. There was a time when employers saw employment gaps as a red flag. Now, as they’ve become increasingly common among people in the workforce, there are more ways to work around an employment gap on a resume.
If you practiced or learned a relevant job skill during your employment gap, you may be able to put an entry on your resume highlighting what you did during that time. For example, if you took time off from work so that you could raise children or care for a family member, you may want to add “caretaker” to your resume to highlight your empathy and communication skills. If you were the primary head of your household, you may even write an entry showcasing your budgeting, scheduling, and delegation skills. Similarly, you can add an entry for any side hustle, contract, or freelance work you did during that time.
Your story didn’t stop when you stopped working for an employer, so get creative as you portray your growth and contributions.
There are a few ways to demonstrate promotions on your resume. The two most common ways are: (1) by stacking multiple job titles under a single company header, or (2) by creating separate entries, one for each position.
If you want to optimize your resume for ATS scanning, it’s typically best to create separate entries for each position. This increases the likelihood that the ATS will “read” your resume more accurately. If you’re submitting your resume directly to a recruiter or hiring manager, then you can choose whichever format you prefer.
Learn more about how to show promotions on your resume.
Unless you just graduated, your education section should go below your work experience. If you have more than one degree, organize them with the most recent on top. For each degree, include:
Field of study
If you are a recent graduate, you may also opt to include:
Dates attended or graduation date
GPA, if it was above 3.50
Honors, achievements, relevant coursework, extracurricular activities, or study abroad programs
Learn more about how to list education on a resume.
If you have relevant certifications, such as a professional certificate, you may choose to include a dedicated section on your resume. Alternatively, you can add certifications as a subsection within your education section.
For each certification, include:
Date it was awarded
Expiration date (if applicable)
Learn more about how to list certifications on your resume.
It’s not always necessary to include a separate section for your skills, especially if you are able to incorporate job-related skills throughout your work experience section. However, if there are additional skills you’d like to highlight, include a section at the end of your resume and list out your technical and workplace skills.
Learn more about how and where to highlight skills on your resume.
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