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What’s the Difference Between Chronological Resumes and Other Resume Formats?
- Features comprehensive overview of your work history
- Show off extensive career experience and expertise
- Includes list of key skills
- Presents your top qualifications in detail
- Organizes your skills under important subcategories
- Includes related training and non-professional activities
- More functional format tips
- Features a combination of work experiences and skills
- Emphasizes relevant skills and work history, rather than a full rundown of both
- Appropriate for workers who have a few years of experience, are changing careers, or are returning to the workforce after time off
- More combination format tips
5 Tips for Making the Most of the Chronological Format
1. Make your summary an “elevator pitch.”
Your summary statement is a succinct overview of your top skills and experiences that lets a prospective employer know who you are, right off the bat. Model your pitch on what the employer is looking for. For example, if you’re applying for a software engineer job and one of the prime requirements is “experience with Objective-C,” mention any skills and/or experiences of your own that match (e.g., “Hard-working software engineer with 6+ years experience programming in Objective-C.”
2. Chronological means reverse-chronological order.
When you list your work experience, start with your current or most recent job first, and then go backwards. Remember to list the name of the company, the dates you’ve worked there and titles of the jobs you’ve held. Underneath each job title, feature three to five bullet points that highlight your top responsibilities or accomplishments. Likewise, you should present your academic qualifications in the education section in reverse-chronological order, including the name of university, high school or technical school, and the credential you gained there. No need to include graduation date — just stick to the basic facts, such as the subject you specialized in.
3. Focus on achievements and numbers in your work history.
If you’re applying for an accountant position, you can bet that other candidates will mention standard accounting tasks in their work history sections. Stand out by giving specifics about how you’ve excelled at previous jobs, not just what you did — details give your accomplishments more weight. For example: “Managed $500,000 budget, improving processes that resulted in 17% reduction in costs from previous year.” Notice how this example shows how you made a definable, measurable impact.
4. Leave room for some top skills.
It’s not all just about your work history in a chronological resume — don’t forget to include skills and qualifications that are key for the job. Always customize this section to best fit what the job needs. For example, if you’re applying for an electrician job that emphasizes repairing electrical parts in motors, generators and pumps, be sure to stress any abilities you have in this area (e.g., “Proficient in servicing linear and variable-speed constant-frequency electric generators”). Feature a blend of both technical skills and soft skills (e.g., flexibility, good communication skills, superior work ethic) in this section.
Chronological Resume FAQs
1. How long should a chronological resume be?
Your resume should be one-page long, two at the most. Any longer and you risk losing employers, who typically only take a few seconds to read resumes. Since chronological resumes depend on work history examples, make sure that you present your previous work responsibilities and achievements in punchy bullet points, and limit yourself to experiences from the past 10 years. For more guidance on resume length, see How to Write the Perfect Resume in Two Pages, and for more resume writing advice, visit our How to Write a Resume article.
2. How do you list jobs chronologically on a resume?
As our resume examples demonstrate, you should start with your current or most recent position and work backwards, listing the company you worked for (including town and state of location), the dates you were there, your job title, and some of your prominent achievements in each role.
3. How do I show a promotion in my chronological resume?
If you’ve moved up to a higher-level job at the same company, use the same chronological approach to listing your experiences that you would use for your work history in general. Under the company you’ve worked for, place your most recent, highest-level job title first, followed by the next most recent, and so on.
4. When is a chronological resume not advantageous?
If you’re a job seeker who lacks professional experience, then a chronological resume, which stresses your work history, won’t be a great fit. Look into a functional resume instead. If you have a few years of experience, or are switching over from a different career field, go with a combination resume, which zeroes-in on job experiences and skills that directly relate to the job you want.
5. 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 your experience is limited, or you’re primarily seeking entry-level positions, a functional resume format may be preferable — just check out our easy-to-use functional resume templates for entry-level job seekers.