What is a Chronological Resume?

The chronological resume is the most popular format job applicants use for a resume. This format emphasizes your work history, focusing on your top job accomplishments and responsibilities, along with related top skills. To impress employers who put a premium on professional experience, the chronological format is the logical choice.

What’s the difference between chronological resumes and other resume formats?

Chronological Format

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

Functional Format

  • Presents your top qualifications in detail
  • Organizes your skills under important subcategories
  • Includes related training and nonprofessional activities
  • More on the functional resume

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 on the combination resume

The Anatomy of a Chronological Resume

Anatomy Resume Chronological
  1. Professional summary
    Also known as a summary statement and resume summary, this section gives you the first chance to present yourself to the hiring manager. Give a quick overview of your top skills and qualifications that make you the best candidate for the job.
  2. Work history
    In a chronological resume, the work history section takes up the most space because it’s the focus of this format. Present your work experience in reverse-chronological order, showing how you’ve grown through the years and progressed in your career.
  3. Skills
    Even though the skills section is usually placed below the work history in this format, it’s still important to feature key skills. Feature six to eight skills that complement your work experience and resume summary, as it helps the hiring manager understand who you are and what you can do.
  4. Education
    As it suggests, this is the section where you list your academic credentials and any special training or certificates you have.

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. Suppose you’re applying for a position that places a premium on employees who’ve put in the work and understand the job inside and out. In that case, 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 are 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 — and displays your extensive, gap-free experience for all employers to see.

Chronological Resume Examples

A resume example is a great way to get inspiration and see the chronological resume in action. Use the resumes below as a guide for your own resume, and find more job-specific examples on our resume examples page.

Administrative Assistant

The sole focus of a chronological resume is to highlight career advancement. In this particular case, the candidate shows how they have grown through the years and taken on more responsibilities.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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%).

Pharmacist

This particular resume features the candidate’s extensive work history,  articles they have published, and other credentials that make them an expert in their field. It’s extensive, thorough and detailed.

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.

How to Write a Chronological Resume

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    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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    Focus on achievements and numbers in your work history.

    When you list your work experience, start with your current or most recent job first, and then go backward. Remember to list the name of the company, the dates you’ve worked there, and the titles of the jobs you’ve held. Underneath each job title:

    • Feature three to five bullet points that highlight your top responsibilities or accomplishments.
    • Begin each statement with a powerful action verb like adjusted, analyzed, compiled, created, or implemented.
    • Use quantifiable achievements to show how you’ve excelled at previous jobs. For example: “Collaborated with the motion capture department to collect data for over 100 specific characters and apply them to animations” or “Managed $500,000 budget, improving processes that resulted in 17% reduction in costs from the previous year.”
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    Feature your top skills.

    Always customize this section to best fit what the job needs. Include a mixture of six to eight hard skills (such as Microsoft Office, Photoshop, or employee evaluations) and soft skills (like good communication, detail-oriented, or time management).

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    Include 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.

    You should present your academic qualifications in reverse-chronological order, including the name of the university, high school, or technical school, and the credential you gained there. No need to include the graduation date — just stick to the basic facts, such as the subject you specialized in.

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