Having a well-presented chronological resume significantly increases your chances of landing a job interview. In this article, you will find a detailed step-by-step guide , free examples and free templates to help you create a compelling chronological resume.
What Is a Chronological Resume?
A chronological resume is one of the three main resume formats. This format draws attention to your work experience. Your current job or most recent position is listed first, and it continues in reverse-chronological order through the rest of your work history.
- A chronological resume clearly shows what positions you have held and for how long.
- Recruiters are typically more familiar with the chronological resume format and tend to prefer it.
- A chronological resume gives you an advantage if you have worked with well-known companies.
- Recruiters prioritize chronological resumes when they are hiring for senior executive positions.
- A chronological resume makes gaps in your work history obvious.
- This format is not ideal if you are applying for a position in a field in which you have not worked before. For example, you’ve been working in accounting for the last 10 years, but you now desire a position as a web developer. With a chronological resume, a recruiter would find it very difficult to look beyond your accounting roles.
- If you are a student or just starting your career, a chronological resume would draw attention to your lack of experience.
Chronological Resume Versus Other Formats
There are three main types of resume formats:
Choosing the chronological resume for the right reasons will impact your chances of standing out among your competitors. Keep reading to understand the differences between the three types of resumes and how these might apply to you.
Whereas A chronological resume focuses mainly on work experience and previous job activities, a functional resume, also known as a skills-based resume, focuses on your talents and achievements.
Ask yourself which you want to highlight. The following key points can help you choose the best type of resume for you:
- Work experienceThe chronological order clearly displays a history of professional growth and maturity. In a functional resume, you don’t display a progressive history of professional growth and maturity like you would in a chronological one. Are you applying for a position where a particular role in your employment history is relevant? If yes, the chronological resume might be the best choice for you.
- SkillsThe functional resume gives a quick view of your abilities and training. The chronological format covers the skills related to the achievements or job duties you decide to mention. Are your skills your biggest strength when applying for the new position? If so, a functional resume may be more effective in your case.
- Starting a careerRecruiters usually prefer the chronological resume over the functional, but the former may not play in your favor if you have little or no work experience. A lack of experience is more noticeable in this resume format.
- Work gapsIf you stopped working for a long time, it’s easier to conceal that in a functional resume. But if the gap was a long time ago, there is no reason to avoid the chronological format.
- Changing careersIf you are looking to change your career, a chronological resume would make the transition more obvious. You may want to go with the functional format in this scenario.
The combination resume, as the name implies, puts together information from chronological and functional resumes. Consider the following to help you decide whether a chronological or a combination resume is a better fit for you.
- Focal pointA combined resume showcases work experience and the time at each position, as does a chronological resume, but it has a strong emphasis on the skills you have acquired. Assess how similar your work history is to the position you are applying for. It may be necessary to focus your skills so your previous roles seem more alike. On the other hand, if you have remarkable achievements, chronological is the better format for describing them.
- More responsibilityIf you are applying to a higher-level position than the one you currently hold, you can use a combined resume to highlight your skills and still show the recruiter your impressive work history.
- RepetitionA flaw of the combination format is that it can easily become repetitive. The chronological outline is less redundant.
Chronological Resume Examples
These chronological resume samples will help you understand how this layout works and help you visualize your resume.
This electrician sample resume from Central Carolina Community College is in the chronological format with focus placed on work experience. Because this template showcases the applicant’s work history and timeline, it is perfect for people who are staying within the same career path or profession, and it’s not a good fit for people who have had gaps in employment.
This example is for an experienced electrician with more than 10 years’ experience in all phases of the electrical field. It can be used by applicants in other industries for a type of job in which education is gained not through traditional universities but apprenticeship.
These recent graduate resume samples, hosted by American University, are designed for recent graduates with limited work experience. Education is prioritized by listing it first followed by academically-acquired skill sets. Because work history is limited, it has been relegated to the bottom of the page, and non-relevant experience is on the second page.
This example is for a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and an internship with an architectural firm. Other industries for which this type of resume would work well include fields such as veterinarian or medical technician, engineering or law.
By listing qualifications first, this reverse chronological resume writing guide from the University of Washington’s School of Public Health shows that the applicant understands the needs of the job. Education and work experience are both important for this career, but the applicant reinforces her knowledge of the job by listing previous, relevant special experience.
This resume example is from an applicant with many years of experience in related fields and multiple related degrees that show potential employers she has the skills they need. This model can be great for careers that value experience. While a traditional chronological template also focuses on years of experience, this template helps to answer the question, “Experience doing what?”
This nursing chronological resume showcases a complex work history while highlighting work-related experiences. With the timeline prominently justified to the right of the text, the statement made is that the applicant knows her work history is valuable, but also realizes that her experiences are even more critical.
This example is for a nursing student who expects to graduate soon and is applying for a position as a new graduate nurse. It would also work well for careers in which education, experience and licensing are equally important — medicine, safety or law, for example.
Originally drafted by Tidewater Community College, this teacher resume example is in the classic reverse-chronological format. Education is listed first because it’s not only the most recent experience but also the applicant’s strongest qualification. The value of the work history timeline is shown by justifying it to the right, where it is both prominently displayed and also removed from the more important, relevant list of experiences.
In this example, the applicant’s master’s degree in teaching will be a strong asset to any school looking to groom a young but knowledgeable teacher. Work history, while limited to student teaching and teaching assistants, shows a long-term commitment to the field.
Chronological Resume Templates
If you think the chronological layout is best for you, you can get started building your own. You already know how this resume looks from the previous samples. Now, you can easily create your own with our chronological resume templates.
Chronological Resume Layout
An effective chronological format has certain characteristics that help you get the desired impact from your resume. Try to incorporate these characteristics into your resume to make it stronger. For example:
- A chronological resume should have a conservative look and a traditional design.
- Stick to black text and a white background for the entire document. Give yourself some license to add a bit of color (in subheadings, for example) if you are applying to a modern firm.
- The document should not exceed two pages. If you keep it brief and relevant, there is no reason to use more space.
- Make it easy for recruiters to find the keywords and information they need. You can do this by breaking the text into smaller paragraphs and listing your work experience in bullet points. Being concise and straightforward is best.
- Your resume should give a clear picture of progressive career development and how one position led to the next one. Ensure this by describing each role in a separate section.
How to Create a Chronological Resume
Now that you have the tools you need, here are instructions you can follow to write an effective chronological resume.
The structure of a chronological resume is simple and straightforward. There are some indispensable elements, and the order in which you display them is important. The outline of your resume should look something like this:
- Personal information
- Professional profile
- Professional experience/work history
In reverse-chronological resumes, the employment section is the most important and should be listed before your education. You can add additional sections for Professional Affiliations or Languages after Education. Doing this may enhance your resume as long as it doesn't extend the resume to more than two pages.Here are the exact steps you need to take to create each of the sections.
Go back and review the job description. Each job you apply to is different, and you'll need to adapt the description of your activities and achievements to the specific position you are seeking. Search for keywords in the job description. Ads usually describe what the company is looking for in a candidate via these keywords.
Later, you will use the same keywords to write about your past roles. Think about any of your achievements related to the job requirements, and jot them down. Using the same keywords when you create your resume will help make clear that you have what the company is seeking in a candidate.
There is a good chance your resume will be screened by an applicant tracking system (ATS). The ATS scans for keywords from the job description before an actual person looks at your resume. Resumes may be discarded at this step if they don't have enough of the required keywords, so make sure to include them.
This section should include the essentials: your complete name, address, email, and phone number.
It is not necessary to write your full address. Just include your city and state. Write "Willing to relocate" if it applies to the position. Sometimes recruiters will reject your resume if they think you live too far away to commute.
For your phone number, a mobile number is preferable. This will make it easier for recruiters to contact you. Always use a professional email address, which should include your first and last name but no nicknames or funny business.
You can include a job title in this section if your current job title is the same as that of the position you are seeking. This will reinforce the message that you're who the recruiter is looking for.
Add a link to your professional website if you have one and to your LinkedIn profile as well.
It is important to make a positive impression via your resume from the start, so make sure this section has an impact. Here you should underline the key points in your work history and focus on your most relevant achievements.
The professional profile should be concise and have around 50 words summarizing your professional experience, skills, and accomplishments.
Start with the number of years of work or internship experience, your area of expertise and your main job duties. Then specify important facts and accomplishments with quantified information. Continue with objective skills and abilities that will be useful in your new position. Also include relevant awards, degrees or certificates you hold.
To have a better understanding of this section, let's compare two professional profiles. Here is a bad example of a corporate real estate executive's profile:
- Executive with the ability to develop real estate strategies. Five-plus years of experience, highly motivated, results-oriented and a team player. Keeps up-to-date with fluctuations in the industry through ongoing professional development.
In this example, it is not clear what the executive's specialty is. Of course, every company would like to hire someone "highly motivated," but just using the phrase alone doesn't show it is true. The last sentence could also be improved by describing "ongoing professional development" in more detail.
Now let's have a look at this example:
- Accomplished executive with five-plus years’ experience designing and implementing real estate strategies that sustain business objectives. Experience building highly motivated management teams and attaining revenue goals. Have directed initiatives that reduced operating budgets by $20 million. Keep up-to-date with fluctuations in the industry through ongoing professional development. Currently in a MCR designation.
Objective facts and measured statements are what make the second profile example better than the previous one. Quantifiable information in a summary has the following benefits:
- Gives the recruiter a tangible sense of what you’ve accomplished.
- Provides proof that your statements are more than just words.
- Places you above other candidates who didn’t elaborate on their achievements.
- Helps the recruiter imagine you achieving the same results while working for their company.
This is the main component of your resume. It should list your principal tasks and biggest achievements from your previous jobs in bullet points. List each by company name, position, and dates.
It's also important to showcase the growth you achieved and advancement you made:
Recruiters will be looking for different elements, such as the basics of what you did:
- Who you interacted with including customers, managers, contractors, etc.
- The tools and software used such as ERP systems, databases, etc.
- Work produced. Depending on your activities, this can vary between tangible products, analytical reports, applications, etc.
- Environments you are familiar with such as a multicultural startup, a crowded sales floor, working alone, etc.
- The dates you worked. Usually, each job position displays the start and end date by month and year. However, if there was a gap you want to conceal, you can include only the years.
It's also important to showcase the growth you achieved and advancement you made:
- Your development from earliest to current and latest roles. The latest should be described in better detail because recruiters are interested in what you can do for them right now. Older positions can be summarized, as recruiters will be less interested in those.
- Product or service knowledge you gained in a role.
- Promotions to different job positions within the same company. Separate these roles so the growth is more evident.
- Measurable figures that point how you excelled in former roles. Quantitative results have a bigger impact on the recruiter because they show a structured and meticulous job performance.
- Compelling achievements. Try, for example, “Designed the strategic budget plan, which saved $50,000 in the first quarter of 2017” instead of “Involved in the strategic budget plan for the year 2017.” Just as in the career profile, your achievements get more attention when they are quantified.
A chronological document highlights your professional experience, so the education will usually go at the end of your resume. The less work experience you have, the more detailed the education section should be.
You should mention only the most relevant information. Providing the name and location of your university, major, type of degree and year of graduation is usually enough. You may include the GPA if you recently graduated and it is 3.0 or above.
A chronological resume allows the recruiter to see your employment history at a glance. Learning to write this document effectively will help you land a job interview and continue consistent professional development.
Let's review some of the main points for achieving this:
- Download our free resume samples and templates to help you build a persuasive chronological resume.
- Stick to a professional layout and arrange the information in an easy-to-navigate format.
- List your current job or latest position first. Explain recent jobs in detail and summarize older roles more concisely.
- Include the keywords mentioned in the job description. These may be skills or responsibilities.
- Quantify information about your achievements. Include this information in your professional profile and in your work history.
If you follow our recommendations, they will help your resume to stand out, and recruiters will be more likely to notice it.
Using a Resume Builder
The previous chronological resume templates and samples will help you considerably, but a resume builder will make it even easier to create a better resume. Use our free resume comparison tool and choose among the best resume builder tools for you.
The builders you will find offer a variety of features that apply to every kind of resume. If you've decided that a chronological format best suits you, make sure to use features that preserve the chronological order. For example, you can pick a text-based layout with a professional look that will let you highlight your work experience. Remember that chronological formats have a traditional layout, so pick one without images or graphics.
Pick a template that has enough space for you to emphasize your work history, which is important when you're writing this resume format. The builders allow you to customize your template according to your needs.
You will also see the option to use keyword phrases to enhance your resume. If you use this feature, be sure to sprinkle the text with relevant keywords for your job experience, and use a traditional writing style. Don't risk your professional image by using bold adjectives or statements.
A resume builder makes the process of writing your resume much easier.