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When To Use a Chronological Resume

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    • You’ve shown consistent growth in your career.
      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. Give three to five examples of your best achievements for each job you’ve held.
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    • The job places heavy importance on experience.
      Some jobs just aren’t for first-timers. If you’re applying for a position that places a premium on employees who’ve put in the work and understand their job field inside and out, a chronological resume is the best format for showing off your experience. Give examples of how you’ve specifically improved businesses and their bottom lines, and taken on more responsibilities over time.
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    • There’s no gaps in your employment history.
      Since a chronological resume offers a comprehensive rundown of your career, it’s the best format for showing steady employment over a long period of time — and displays your extensive, gap-free experience for all employers to see.

What’s the Difference Between Chronological Resumes and Other Resume Formats?

Chronological Format

  • Features comprehensive overview of your work history
  • Show off extensive career experience and expertise
  • Includes list of key skills

Functional Format

  • Presents your top qualifications in detail
  • Organizes your skills under important subcategories
  • Includes related training and non-professional activities
  • More functional format tips

Combination Format

  • 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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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5. Feature important training and educational credentials.

If you’ve been in the same line of work for a while, any evidence you can provide that you’ve honed your skills through additional education or training can make a positive impact on recruiters. List any specialized coursework or certifications you have in your education section. For example, if you earned a certificate in a job-related skill such as project management, include it here, with the name of the institution where you studied, and the actual certification. For example:

Project Management School, Collegetown, CA
Certification as a project management professional (PMP)

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Chronological Resume Examples for Different Job Fields

Administration:
Office Manager

Focus on your proficiency with software such as Microsoft Office or Outlook, and provide details on your management skills (e.g., leading a team of 10 employees, or managing supplies inventory for a business group of 50 employees).

Banking:
Bank Branch Manager

List the financial services that you’ve specialized in, as well as concrete details on the activities you’ve led, such as managing a staff of 12 employees, or overseeing customer service, staffing, and other operational duties.

Computer Software:
Software Engineer

Present examples of how you’ve excelled in different programming environments, using different servers and programming languages. Highlight your achievements in creating successful products.

Education:
Principal

Mention experiences in which you’ve had to manage large groups of faculty and students, and add any recognitions you’ve received for your work (e.g., your school receiving an award for academic excellence).

Event Planning:
Event Coordinator

In your work experience section, list examples where you’ve organized a variety of events, for groups of all sizes, and show how you’ve been able to collaborate successfully with clients.

Finance:
Financial Analyst

Give examples of how your analyses and recommendations have resulted in positive outcomes for clients and businesses. Don’t forget to list your knowledge of job-specific software in your skills section.

Healthcare Support:
Medical Assistant

Focus on communication skills, empathy and other intangible qualifications that are necessary for working with patients, as well as specific medical training and/or certifications.

Human Resources:
Recruiter

Provide specifics on the scope of your recruiting work in the past (e.g., managing hiring processes for organizations between 50–1,000 employees), as well as hard skills such as software you’ve used, and soft skills such as communication abilities.

Information Technology:
Scrum Master

Stress work examples where you’ve improved overall team performance and results through your deployment of scrum principles, and note your knowledge of specific software you use to perform your work.

Inventory Management:
Warehouse Manager

In your work history section, show how you’ve improved operations and profits as a manager, using specific numbers that demonstrate your effectiveness (e.g., improving inventory accuracy by 25%).

Nursing:
Registered Nurse

Provide specifics on the types of duties you’ve had (e.g., direct care, patient admissions), and how you’ve helped manage more junior nurses and contributed to maintaining and upping hospital standards and efficiency.

Retail:
Retail Manager

Give examples of how you’ve increased company revenue while also ensuring customer satisfaction. Don’t forget to list intangible abilities that are important to the job, such as team leadership, time management and attention to detail.

For even more resume examples for all types of jobs and industries, visit our resume examples 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.

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