The Chronological Resume: Expert Guide + Free Templates

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert

Last Updated: March 31, 2024

Here we show you how to write a masterful chronological resume that lets your professional achievements shine, and we provide 10 free resume templates to help you take your resume from ordinary to extraordinary.

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Chronological Resume

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What is a chronological resume?

The chronological resume — also known as the reverse chronological resume — is a popular resume format highlighting work experience over skills and education. Hiring managers and recruiters like chronological resumes because they display your career accomplishments and progression upfront. 

The chronological resume format is popular among job seekers with steady and progressive work histories. It is less suitable if you are changing careers, writing a resume with no work experience or have significant employment gaps. For these situations, you might choose the functional or combination resume.

How to know if you should use a chronological resume

If you’re unsure if the chronological resume format is the best choice for you, think about your work history. A chronological resume might be the most effective option if you fit into any of the following categories.

1

You’ve shown consistent growth in your career.

Hiring managers want to see a clear pattern of success on your resume. Since the reverse-chronological resume format highlights your job titles, promotions and accomplishments, it’s a great option if you have had a steady career progression. Give three to five examples of your top achievements for each job.

2

The job ad emphasizes experience.

Having knowledge of your field and the skills to perform the work required is a good start, but some potential employers want to know that you can apply your qualifications in a work setting. Convince them by prominently displaying what you have done for previous employers. Use the chronological resume format to showcase specific measurable achievements for each job in your work history.

3

There are no gaps in your employment history.

Since a chronological resume puts your employment history front and center, it’s the best resume format for displaying a steady and strong employment history over a long period.

How to write a chronological resume section-by-section

Now that you’re certain the chronological resume format is the right one for you, you probably want to know the best way to write one.

This example demonstrates the basic structure of a chronological resume.

Now, let’s look at how to write each section, in order.

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  •  Include your contact information

    Your contact information is one of the most important elements of a great resume; without it, hiring managers won’t know how to contact you!

    Here’s what to include in your resume contact information: 

    • Your full name.
    • A reliable phone number.
    • Your professional email address.
    • Your city, state and ZIP code. 
    • A link to your professional social media account, website or portfolio if you have them.
  • Craft an impressive professional summary

    Your professional summary — also known as a summary statement and resume summary — is your first chance to present yourself to the hiring manager in your reverse-chronological resume. Use it to provide a quick overview of your relevant skills and work experience that make you the best candidate for the job.

  • Showcase your work history

    Your work history section should take up the most space in your chronological resume because it’s the focus of this format. Present your work experience starting with the most recent job first and work your way back in time. Like our chronological resume sample above, display the name of each company, the years you worked there, and three to five bullet points of measurable achievements.

  • Add your relevant skills

    With a few exceptions, your resume skills section will fall under your employment section in the reverse-chronological resume format. Feature five to ten skills that complement your work accomplishments and resume summary. Hiring managers want to see a mix of relevant hard, soft and technical skills.

  • Include your education

    Your education is a critical job credential for most employers — especially if it is mentioned in the job description — no matter which resume format you choose or if you have completed a diploma or degree. On a chronological resume, education is typically displayed under your skills. List each school you attended with the most recent first, the years you attended, the degree received or relevant courses taken.

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Get started with a chronological resume template

Get inspired to write your best resume with a professional resume example, then choose one of the reverse-chronological resume templates below and fill it in with our Resume Builder. We’ll help you craft a seamless professional narrative that focuses on your work experience, taking you one step further toward your dream job.

Reverse-chronological resume templates for top jobs

Choose from the following chronological resumes for top jobs and rewrite them with your own job title and relevant experience, or browse our library of resume templates.

Administrative assistant

The sole focus of a chronological resume is to highlight your work experience and achievements. In this case, the candidate shows how their career has progressed over the years.

See also: Administrative Assistant Resume Templates & Examples

Registered nurse

Like the job seeker in this sample chronological resume, display your expertise in nursing and provide concrete details about how you’ve used your clinical skills, such as monitoring vital signs and soft skills like empathy.

See also: Registered Nurse Resume Templates & Examples

School principal

Focus on work experiences that show your achievements managing school faculty and students in your reverse-chronological resume. Highlight awards and recognitions you’ve received for your work, such as National Distinguished Principal® (NDP).

See also Principal Resume Templates & Examples

Event manager

In the work experience section of your reverse-chronological resume, emphasize your expertise in organizing events for various groups, and your ability to manage event staff and vendors. 

See also: Event Manager Resume Templates & Examples

Financial analyst

Provide examples of how your analyses and strategies have resulted in positive outcomes for clients and businesses, like the job seeker in this reverse-chronological resume sample. Don’t forget to showcase your experience with your hard skills such as financial software.

See also: Financial Analyst Resume Templates & Examples

Medical assistant

This chronological resume for a medical assistant conveys the importance of showing work accomplishments that use soft skills — such as communication, empathy and active listening — which are necessary for working with people.

See also: Medical Assistant Resume Templates & Examples

Warehouse manager

Highlight achievements in your chronological resume work history to show how you’ve improved operations and profits as a manager, using numbers to demonstrate your effectiveness. For example, “Improved inventory accuracy by 25%.”

See also:Warehouse Manager Resume Templates & Examples

Pharmacist

This sample of a chronological resume demonstrates the impact details make when writing your work history. Notice how this resume template displays the skills section in a separate column, making it easier for potential employers to see how the candidate’s skills align with their work accomplishments.

See also: Pharmacist Resume Templates & Examples

Retail Management Professional

Our reverse-chronological resume for an assistant retail manager demonstrates how managers can showcase achievements like increasing revenue, improving the customer experience and managing employees with superb interpersonal skills.  when managing employees. 

See also: Retail Management Resume Templates & Examples

Tips for making an exceptional chronological resume

Now that you know the structure of a chronological resume and how to make one, follow these tips to impress hiring managers and distinguish yourself from other job applicants. 

1

1. Tailor your reverse-chronological resume to the job requirements.

If you want potential employers to notice you, you’ve got to speak to their needs. This means tailoring your work experience and skills to match the job you are applying for. 

Take time to read the job description closely and take note of the skills that match your own. Then go through your work history and make a list of measurable accomplishments for each job, focusing on those that align with your job-relevant skills.

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2. Use action words and numbers for impact

Action words and numbers are powerful tools to help you make your reverse-chronological resume stand out. Action words are verbs that describe your work accomplishments, such as “Streamlined the onboarding process for new employees, while numbers provide concrete insight into your abilities, like, …resulted in a 25% improvement in  productivity.” 

When used together, action verbs and numbers can help you paint a clear picture of your potential to succeed at the job and demonstrate how you can make a positive impact on your potential future employer’s organization. For example, “Streamlined the onboarding process for new hires, resulting in a 25% improvement in productivity.”

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3. Make your chronological resume ATS-friendly

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is software used by many employers to manage and screen resumes. Here are some tips for making your chronological resume ATS-friendly:

  • Use a resume grader. We recommend using our ATS resume checker to scan your resume for common issues that might prevent it from passing screening software.  
  • Use keywords. Many ATS programs scan resumes for specific resume keywords. Include relevant keywords from the job description throughout your resume.
  • Use simple formatting. ATS programs may have trouble reading resumes with complex formatting, such as tables, graphics and images. Use bullet points and acceptable resume fonts, to ensure that your resume is readable by the system.
  • Use standard section headings. Use section headings such as “work experience,” “education” and “skills” to make it easy for the ATS to identify each section clearly.
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4. Add optional sections

Optional sections can enhance your chronological resume in several ways, including: 

  • Magnifying certain skills. For example, if you have a lot of experience in a particular field and you have enough room on your resume, you can create separate skills sections like “technical skills” or “computer skills.” 
  • Providing more details about your work history. For example, if you have won an award for your work, you can emphasize it in an “Awards” section to make it stand out from your other accomplishments.
  • Accentuating your expertise. For example, you could create a” special projects” section to showcase some of your work. 
  • Highlighting professional development. Creating a section for training or certifications –– especially if your field requires them –– can have a positive impact.
  • Showing your personality. For example, if you are a volunteer or have relevant hobbies and interests that you are passionate about, you could create a “Volunteer Experience” or a “Hobbies and Interests” section to get the right attention.

How to spotlight skills and achievements in your chronological resume

Your professional and educational achievements are the keys to making an impressive resume, and your job-relevant skills should align with what you’ve done. Here are some tips for using them effectively. 

  1. In your resume summary: Highlight three to five job-relevant skills and something you achieved with at least one of them. For example,

    “Dedicated and experienced software engineer with 10+ years of   experience in the industry. Proven ability to work independently and as part of a team, and to meet deadlines and project goals. Strong programming skills in Java, Python, C++, and C#. Created a new software application using Java that streamlined the company’s sales process and it increased sales by 15%.”

  2. In your work history: Show what you’ve accomplished with the skills required for the job whenever possible. For example: 
    • Increased student test scores by 10% in math and reading over the past two years. (This example demonstrates how the job candidate applied effective teaching strategies on the job). 
    • Developed and implemented a new reading program that raised student participation by 20% in three months. (This example shows how the candidate used creativity and innovation).
    • Won award for best teacher three years in a row for creating a positive and supportive classroom environment where students feel safe and respected. (This example illustrates that the candidate is compassionate).
  3. In your education section: Your chronological resume education section is another place to highlight skills you could not fit in your resume skills section and provides another opportunity to showcase your accomplishments. 

    Here’s an example: 

    Education University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA Bachelor of Arts in Political Science GPA: 3.9

    • Dean’s List 
    • Graduated with Honors
    • President of the Political Science Club
    • Member of the Debate Team
    • Interned for the California State Assembly
  4. In an optional section: The bonus sections of your resume provide opportunities to show how you have applied your job-related skills to accomplish professional projects, volunteer or community projects — even hobbies!

    For example:  Volunteer activities Habitat for Humanity, May – September, 2021

    • Led a team of volunteers in the construction of a new playground for a local elementary school.
    • Managed the project from start to finish, including fundraising, design and construction.
    • Completed the project in four months within budget.

Key takeaways

Now you know the secrets to making an impressive chronological resume. Let’s recap: 

  • Chronological resumes spotlight your work history over skills and education. 
  • Chronological resumes suit job seekers with a steady or progressive work history.
  • Consider a functional resume if you have no work experience and a combination resume if you are changing careers or have more than 10 years of work experience. 
  • Measurable achievements should form the meat of your chronological resume. Use them instead of responsibilities in your work history section.
  • Action verbs and numbers can boost a chronological resume; use them when describing your work achievements.

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