The chronological resume, or "reverse chronological," is a format that shows your most recent work experience first followed by all previous positions.
Employers prefer this resume format for two reasons:
- It's easy for hiring managers to see your career progression, specifically the consistency and length of your employment.
- It emphasizes duties and achievements. Potential employers can quickly scan your resume to determine if your accomplishment make you a great candidate for the position.
Who Should Write One?
The chronological resume is the perfect format for these types of job seekers:
- Candidates with consistent and lengthy employment
Candidates with consistent work history typically find that this is the best way to tell their professional story. If your career spans 15 years or more, hiring managers would expect to see a two-page resume.
However, if your work history contains gaps, a chronological resume could draw attention to those periods of unemployment. In that case, you should consider a functional resume format that focuses on your skills.
- Those with a history of solid job performance
A chronological resume highlights your job titles, promotions and accomplishments. With a clear pattern of success, hiring managers will see that you are a motivated, valuable candidate driven to succeed.
- Applicants with multiple employers or who’ve held varied roles for the same employer
In this format, job-hopping is OK if your resume shows a clear career progression. The chronological resume allows hiring managers to do a quick scan to determine if your responsibilities increased with each new role. This is particularly useful if you changed employers.
How to Write One
Your chronological resume should contain five sections, but how well you write the following three important sections is what will hold the attention of hiring managers.
To ace these resume sections and impress hiring managers, check out the job description to understand the qualifications that matter most to the employer. Doing so will help you tailor these sections to the job you want. Then follow our tips below.
Your summary belongs at the top of the page, just beneath your header. Write this section like a short sales pitch. Your objective is to market your top skills and credentials that are relevant for the job you want.
Insider Writing Tip: Speak Directly to the Employer
Mention experience and one or two valuable accomplishments to demonstrate how well you fit the role you are seeking. Don’t use pronouns, including “I.” Instead, write descriptive sentences like “Highly effective high school teacher with 10 years’ experience and a successful track record of helping students enter college.”
Work history is the main focus of your chronological resume, and must be more than a listing of the places you worked, titles you held and duties you performed. In this section, use industry-recognized metrics to quantify your career accomplishments.
Insider Writing Tip: Focus on Measurable Accomplishments
Before you sit down to write your work history section, take the time to sketch out your most notable accomplishments for each of the positions you’ve held.
Take it a step further by using metrics to highlight your accomplishments. For example: “Managed six part-time sales associates to improve year-over-year sales by 250 percent.”
Start each line with a strong action verb, such as “created,” “ordered” or “advocated.” When describing a job you have now, list your current duties using present-tense verbs (“manage,” “collaborate,” etc.)
Finally, like your summary statement, compare your achievements to the position requirements listed in the job description. Then include those keywords and phrases in your achievements.
Now you are ready to include that information in a properly formatted work history section. Start with your current position and list your job title, company name, workplace location and your dates of employment. Then include your accomplishments for that position. Repeat this until you’ve listed all of your employment history.
Consult the job ad and list your most relevant skills. As you write this section, narrow it down to include six to eight of your best talents.
Insider Writing Tip: Use bulleted short phrases to highlight your expertise
Make your skills easy for a hiring manager to scan. Write short phrases, listed by order of importance. Start with the skills most relevant to the employer (hint: the most important abilities are usually at the top of the list in the job description).
Avoid listing vague skills, such as “hard worker.” Every job seeker can claim to be a hard worker. Instead, choose tangible talents that the employer explicitly needs.
Header and Education
These final two sections are relatively straightforward, but nonetheless important.
For your header, ensure that you share up-to-date, professional ways to reach you. Include your full name (no inappropriate nicknames), a phone number, an email and a relevant social media profile.
In your education section, simply list your degrees starting with the most recent one you obtained. Unless you’re a recent graduate, don’t share your GPA or graduation date.
Use Our Resume Builder
My Perfect Resume’s Resume Builder is the perfect place to start writing your chronological resume. Our templates are created by career experts and employer-tested to be customizable for any job. Simply pick from our professionally crafted resume designs, tell us a few things about yourself and let us generate a personalized, industry-specific resume. Don’t forget to also create a coordinating cover letter. My Perfect Resume can help with that, too, along with providing expert advice for a successful job search.
Diagram of a Perfect Chronological Resume
Contact Information Section
- New York, NY
- T: 555-555-5555
- E: email@example.com
Driven regional sales manager with a passion for empowering employees, while exceeding company-wide goals. Excels in customer acquisitions, territory development and lead generation. Increased profitability through management and oversight of sales teams of over 35, exceeding sales goals by over 10 percent.
When you read Jessica’s summary statement, you learn that she is a powerhouse in her industry. This type of summary statement compels hiring managers to read the rest of the resume. The first sentence alone tells you that Jessica beats her own goals and encourages other employees to follow suit, which suggests that she’s a superb leader. The following two sentences describe the breadth of Jessica’s expertise and contextualizes her results.
- Creating and inspiring team to follow company vision
- Expertise in Salesforce and Marketoe
- Managing and leading large teams
- Developing strategic accounts
- Exemplary written and verbal communication
- Networking and building professional relationships
- Trend analysis
This is a strong skills section because it begins with Jessica’s most relevant capabilities. As a leader, Jessica needs to create and inspire her team to follow the company vision to ensure idea alignment and employee retention. She then addresses a technical talent, Salesforce and Marketo expertise, before continuing her list of strengths.
As you know, it’s crucial to review the job description before writing your resume. Jessica’s abilities are clear and address the employer’s needs.
Synopsys, Regional Sales Manager, Boston, MA (August 2016-Present)
- Manage a team of 40 at northeast branch of a $3.12 billion national company with over 150 employees
- Provide support and management to sales team of 60, driving productivity and positive work environment
- Conceptualize and enact long-term strategies for global corporate expansion, and contribute 20 percent to the company’s profitability
Sonos, Interim Regional Sales Manager, New York, NY (February 2014-July 2016)
- Handled operations temporarily after departure of regional director, providing management and guidance to sales team of 35
- Oversaw branch of $1.5 billion global software company with over 2,000 employees
- Spearheaded the commercial, technical and strategic vision for northeast region of Sonos, exceeding sales goals by 30 percent and hiring 10 new regional sales associates
Splunk, Sales Manager, Los Angeles, CA (July 2008-February 2014)
- Managed all client accounts, across four departments, while maintaining 90 percent client satisfaction
- Developed innovative marketing campaigns to increase customer engagement and drive brand exposure, expanding sales by 15 percent
- Engaged in innovative problem-solving to save endangered accounts and renew existing contracts, reducing client dissatisfaction by over 20 percent
Jessica opens this section on a strong note by detailing her current situation. She’s not just overseeing a team at a company. Instead, she’s managing a team of 40 at a U.S.-based company worth $3.12 billion. This provides context for her assertion that she contributes 20 percent to the company’s profitability.
Notice the strong action verbs that Jessica uses to describe her accomplishments and duties. Instead of writing that she was “responsible for” all client accounts, she says that she “managed” them. That simple word choice demonstrates authority and pride in her work. While Jessica used the word “managed” a couple times, it’s OK because she used “handled” and “oversaw” in between for variety.
Lastly, Jessica has a one-month employment gap on her chronological resume. This is permissible because the time span is short. If this gap were several months or years, then Jessica should have chosen a functional resume.
Master of Business Administration, University of Southern California (2008)
Bachelor of Arts in Business Education, University of Vermont (2001)
Chronological Resume FAQs
- How long should a chronological resume be?
A chronological resume should be one page for every 10 years of work experience. Therefore, a job seeker with minimal experience should have a one-page resume, while a seasoned job seeker may write up to two pages.
If your resume is too long, use My Perfect Resume’s Resume Builder to help you condense your credentials, while still preserving your most valuable information.
- For a chronological resume, which comes first: your most recent job or your first job?
In a chronological resume, your current or most recent position comes first, or closer to the top of the document. After that, list the job that you held before your most recent position. Work backwards until you reach your first relevant job. Use our Resume Builder to learn how to present your accomplishments and duties in these positions.
- What’s the difference between a chronological resume and a functional resume?
A chronological resume focuses on work history, while the functional format emphasizes skills and excludes specific dates of employment. Unless you have little to no work experience or have gaps in your work history, the chronological resume format is usually the best fit.
- How do I show a promotion in my chronological resume?The chronological resume format is often the best for showcasing accomplishments such as promotions. My Perfect Resume’s Resume Builder has chronological resume templates to help you include such professional progress on your resume in a way that will attract recruiters and demonstrate your qualifications.
- Is the chronological resume format best for entry-level job seekers?Chronological resume formats are ideal for job candidates who have professional experience to showcase. If you have limited experience, and you are primarily seeking entry-level positions, using a format such as a functional resume may be preferable. My Perfect Resume has easy-to-use functional resume templates for entry-level job seekers.