Employers and job seekers alike often favor chronological resumes, which basically act as timelines centered on work experience. Hiring managers find their standard format convenient for locating desired information quickly, and candidates often consider chronological resumes easier to construct than other types of resumes because of their predetermined order for listing roles. As an added benefit, chronological resumes tend to do well at satisfying Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) because of their traditional, straight-forward style.
Chronological resumes present work experience according to when each job happened, going from present to past. Since employers want to get to the “good stuff” right away, positions get listed in reverse chronological order—meaning your current job (or the one you most recently held) takes the top spot under the heading for that section. From there, readers can essentially reconstruct your career progression by reading down the page to see the other jobs that led to where you are now.
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Chronological resume entries must tell more than places and dates. Each needs to convey what the role encompassed and what you achieved. By doing so, employers grasp how individual experiences contributed to your overall qualifications. Bullet points work well, as do short-yet-descriptive paragraphs. Use action verbs that tell employers they’re looking at a go-getter who gets things done. Similarly, include quantifiable information to paint a vivid picture rather than relying on boring clichés.
And while work history may stand out on a chronological resume, other vital information must also be included. At the very least, employers expect an “education” section. (Because students and recent graduates usually lack significant experience, they appropriately place this section higher than work history.) Then, depending on your industry and qualifications, add pertinent groupings, such as “skills,” “certifications,” and “volunteer work.” Some job seekers also choose to include a career objective, qualifications summary, or similar introductory material.
Chronological Resume Format
The top of any resume starts with the candidate’s name and contact info. From there, a chronological resume launches into work history with a bold heading such as “Professional Experience.” Each entry under the heading should include the name of the employer and location, the job title, and the period the position was held. After this standard information, vividly but succinctly describe duties, responsibilities, and achievements. Include other relevant sections that support your candidacy.
A chronological resume may look like the following example:
JANE A. CANDIDATE
123 Main Street
Anytown, USA 12345
Child Care Assistant
- Planned and prepared meals in accordance with federal nutritional guidelines
- Developed and executed age-appropriate activities
- Assisted school-aged children with homework and test preparation
- Communicated with parents and guardians regarding children’s progress and daily activities
Toddler Care Intern
Sept. 2011-Aug. 2012
Led group activities (prepared and read stories, directed games and art activities)
- Supervised play indoors and outdoors
- Assisted children with eating, proper hygiene, and naptime preparation
- Followed all required classroom safety procedures
- Performed housekeeping duties such as laundry, cleaning, dishwashing
- Provided supervision and care for children while initiating positive measures to control behavior
Experiment with spacing, wording, fonts, italics, capitalization, and underlining to achieve a visually attractive resume. Likewise, customize headings to fit what you want to highlight. Check out our resume database if you need inspiration.
When to Avoid a Chronological Resume
A chronological resume works well for someone with a vertical career path in which positions keep leading up to higher roles within the same industry. But not every job seeker’s trajectory falls into place that way.
Employment gaps and excessive job-hopping are both more noticeable on a chronological resume than on other types. Likewise, people who are switching fields do not particularly want to draw attention to the fact that a substantial amount of their work experience has little to do with the position at hand. In such cases, experts often recommend a functional resume in which skills receive top billing and employment history falls to the bottom of the document.
Whether chronological or otherwise, be certain your resume clearly showcases your best selling points. Before sending out, confirm it is free of errors, contains appropriate keywords, and is tailored to the employer’s specific needs. Enlist a trusted set of eyes to proof and provide honest opinions. Better to hear suggestions beforehand than for hiring managers to pass you over!