Chronological Resume Guide: Template and Tips

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn when to use a chronological resume format, and get tips on how to write your own.

[Featured Image] A person wearing a blue jacket and red and striped top looks over a chronological resume.

Your chronological resume tells 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 for potential employers, listing the information they want, like your work history, job responsibilities, and significant 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 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.

What is a reverse chronological order resume?

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.


Chronological resume format

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 your desired job type.

Your chronological resume will include several key sections:

  • Header

  • Objective or summary (optional)

  • Work experience

  • Education

  • Certifications

  • Skills (optional)

Before getting started, read through a few job descriptions for roles you are interested in. Highlight specific keywords, tasks, and skills, and list 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.

Chronological resume template

Use this chronological resume template to write your resume as we detail what to include in each section below.



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 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. Keep this information on one line, separating each item with a vertical bar.

Objective or summary

Depending on your work experience and job search goals, you can include an objective or summary below your header, if you don't mind. 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 benefit people who recently graduated college, are changing careers, or are looking to advance their careers. 

A resume summary briefly summarises 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 help people with some work experience or varied work experience succinctly state the common themes of their careers. 

Work experience

Your work experience is going to be the bulk of your chronological resume. For each position, you should include:

  • Company name

  • Job title

  • Location

  • Dates of employment

  • Results-oriented list of accomplishments

If you choose to, you can include one sentence summarising your job responsibilities for each role before listing your accomplishments. You may add this brief description if your job title doesn’t fully capture your range of responsibilities or you prefer that organisational 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 your work's impact rather than the routines. Use action words to show how you participated actively in your work.

Be accurate, as your future employer may verify the information on your resume before finalising your job offer.

Dealing with employment gaps

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 amongst 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 can put an entry on your resume highlighting what you did. 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 might 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.

Showing promotions on your resume

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 optimise your resume for ATS scanning, creating separate entries for each position is typically best. This increases the likelihood that the ATS will "read" your resume more accurately. If you submit your resume directly to a recruiter or hiring manager, you can choose whichever format you prefer.



Unless you just graduated, your education section should go below your work experience. If you have more than one degree, organise them with the most recent. For each degree, include:

  • School name

  • Location

  • Degree obtained

  • Field of study

If you are a recent graduate, you may also opt to include:

Dates attended or graduation date

  • GPA, if it is 3.0 or higher, or CGPA, if it is 7.5 or higher

  • Honours, achievements, relevant coursework, extracurricular activities, or study abroad programmes


If you have relevant certifications or professional certificates, 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:

  • Certification name

  • Awarding institution

  • Date it was awarded

  • Expiration date (if applicable)

  • Relevant skills


Including a separate section for your skills is only sometimes necessary, especially if you can 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 your technical and workplace skills.

Getting started

Learn best practices as you write your resume using the project-centred How to Write a Resume course from SUNY Online, or further explore your potential with the Career Discovery Specialisation. Sign up for Coursera today and begin a 7-day, full-access free trial to browse more personal development courses.

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