What is a chronological resume, and when should you use one? A chronological resume lists your work history in reverse chronological order. That is, the top of your resume lists your most recent job first. Your previous role is directly below that, and so on.
This type of resume affords you the opportunity to give pride of place to your most recent and outstanding talents, skills, and expertise, ensuring that a hiring manager will be interested enough to read through your entire resume.
Review information on when to use a chronological resume, when to choose a different format, what to include, writing and formatting tips, and examples.
- Chronological resumes are a good fit for most job seekers. If you have a limited job history, employment gaps, or did some job hopping, consider using a different format.
- Include the standard sections—contact information, education, and experience—in your resume and consider adding optional sections like a profile.
- Pay attention to your word choices and formatting. Your resume should be easy to scan through, as well as be full of details that match the job description and play up your most relevant qualifications.
When to Use a Chronological Resume
Chronological resumes are the most commonly used format, and for good reason. Most employers prefer candidates who have current or very recent experience in their career fields. Plus, it's the easiest option to create.
The more experienced a potential new employee is, the less likely it will be that the employer will have to spend time and money to train them after they’re hired.
If you have a straightforward work history—one where you have work experience in the job area you are targeting, with few significant unemployment gaps—then a chronological resume is the way to go.
While it’s fine to include several job descriptions in your “Professional Experience” section, you don't need to present more than 10 years of employment in the work history section of a resume. Doing so may result in your application being screened out by employers guilty of ageism.
When to Use a Different Resume Format
- Have done a lot of job-hopping
- Have employment gaps
- Do not have a work history
- You're working in a different field than the one you're currently targeting
These alternate resume formats allow you to place your most relevant experience at the top of the document, even if the role isn't the most recent one.
What to Include in a Chronological Resume
Take a look at the sections you'll include in a chronological resume:
- Contact information: This is where you'll inform potential employers how to reach you. This should go on the very top of the page—along with your phone number, email, and address. This section also includes your name in a bigger font size.
- Experience: This is generally the heart of your resume, where you share your previous work experience. In a chronological resume, this is listed in order from most to least recent.
- Education: In this section, you'll list your education background, along with any certifications, professional development, and academic accomplishments.
- Skills: Here, you'll highlight your hard skills, such as computer skills and language skills.
You can also choose to include an objective statement, resume profile, or career summary on your resume. These optional sections generally summarize your skills and experience. In the case of an objective statement, you also call out your employment goals.
Tips for Writing a Chronological Resume
As you're writing your resume, keep these tips in mind:
- Create top-notch job descriptions: As you describe your previous jobs, look for ways to make them sound impressive. Try adding numbers and incorporating action verbs. Don't limit yourself by simply listing out day-to-day responsibilities. Instead, look for ways to highlight your achievements.
- Avoid "I" and "me": It's customary to write resumes in the third person. So, in a job description, instead of saying "I managed a team of five people," you'd simply say, "Managed a team of five people."
- Match your qualifications to the job: Employers are most interested in your relevant qualifications. That is, it's lovely if you're skilled at accounting best practices, but if you're being hired for marketing, that may not be very meaningful to your hiring manager. Look for ways to showcase skills that are mentioned in the job ad and are needed in the role at hand.
- Carefully eliminate all typos and errors: Having a typo makes your resume appear unprofessional. It also reflects poorly on you, as well as potentially makes you appear sloppy and poor at handling details. Read through your resume carefully to catch—and remove—errors and typos.
- Include relevant keywords: Both hiring managers and automated tracking systems (ATS) look for keywords in resumes. Including them in the document can help you increase your chances of landing a job interview.
How to Format a Chronological Resume
A resume is a formal document, with fairly set guidelines for how it should look. If your resume looks different from the usual format, you should have a very good reason. For instance, a design-focused role might offer more freedom to deviate from the norm. Here are some formatting strategies to keep in mind:
- Consider using a template: Resume templates, which are available through word processing software such as Google Docs and Microsoft Word, can help you cut down on the labor to create the document. A template can be a very helpful starting point as you create or update your resume.
- Choose a readable font: Make sure to choose a standard font (think: Times New Roman or Arial) that's easy to read. Don't make the size too small because you're looking to include lots of information on a single page.
- Make sure it's easy to read on the screen and when printed out: Few people want to read a document with cramped margins and a tiny font. Try to make your resume easy to scan by using bullet points, strategically bolded text, and incorporating plenty of white space.
Chronological Resume Example
This is an example of a chronological resume. Download the chronological resume template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for a text version of the resume.
Chronological Resume Example (Text Version)
Energetic and motivating leader with a proven ability to effectively manage both staff and long and short-term projects. A self-starter and strong independent worker who excels at analyzing products and procedures in order to generate new ideas that improve efficiency and production quality.
COMFORT, INC., Edmond, OR
Manage daily operations of a $1 million foam insulation company.
- Train and supervise work crews in more efficient product installation techniques resulting in reduced material waste by 20% and labor hours by 43%.
- Instrumental in developing sales team’s knowledge in the areas of building science and energy conservation in order to provide customers with the information to successfully plan for, and utilize, spray foam insulation.
MILITARY BASE. Edmond, OR
DATA NETWORK MANAGER (2016-2018)
Managed command and control data network used to generate video representation of geographic area surrounding the ship. The team consisted of 38 individuals from four departments.
- Production Control Officer - Coordinated the efforts of 135 personnel utilizing 37,000 man hours. Completed 520 jobs totaling over $4 million during a 13-month refurbishment period.
- Assistant Command Duty Officer - Directed daily routine utilizing a duty section of 600 personnel from 12 different departments.
MILITARY BASE. Edmond, OR
INSTRUCTOR PILOT (2012–2016)
Administered, coordinated, and supervised flight and academic training for the United States flight training program that encompassed over 200 instructors and 600 students in five units.
- Coordinated and supervised four Flight Commanders to ensure that pilot completion rates met quarterly and annual goals.
- Managed and scheduled 11 instructor pilots and 38 flight students to complete primary and intermediate level flight training.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
- AUBURN UNIVERSITY, MBA in Finance, 2021
- UNIVERSITY OF COSTA RICA, Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics, 2012
- Aviator - Advanced Flight Training, United States Flight Patrol
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In what order should work history be listed on a resume?
In a chronological resume, which is the most common format, work history is listed in reverse chronological order. Your current or most recent job is listed first, followed by your other jobs in descending order. Your oldest job is listed last.
What is the difference between a chronological and a functional resume?
A chronological resume focuses on your employment history, while a functional resume highlights your skills and qualifications for a job. A combination resume includes your top qualifications plus your chronological work history.