Chronological Resume Format

A chronological resume emphasizes your experience and career progression, focusing less on specific skills and abilities. The chronological resume format is actually a reverse chronological format, because it starts with your most recent experience and achievements and works its way back in time.

If you’ve been in the work force for several years, and are seeking a job in the same field or in a field complimented by your previous jobs and experience, the chronological resume will suit you quite well. It is the preferred resume format of many employers, because it allows them to easily track your education and career progress much easier than with a functional resume.

The chronological resume has a very simple design, as follows:

    Objective AND/OR Profile

  • You have a choice to make here. You can write your objective, give a brief profile / summary of yourself, or do both. Only one is absolutely necessary. While this is the first item in your resume (after your heading), it is recommended that you write it last. You may even want to customize it, just as you do your cover letter, for each company you apply to.
  • If you want to impress upon the employer your desire to work in a particular job or for a company just like theirs, you should consider using an objective section. In your objective you should give a brief, 1-2 sentence description of what kind of job you’re looking for. Be specific as to the type of work you are seeking, and how you think your abilities would be valuable in such a position.
  • Example: To join the IT department of a small to mid-sized company where my experience in network administration and computer programming can be leveraged to solve difficult problems and increase efficiency.
  • If you have a lot of experience and/or education to your credit, you might consider using a Profile section. This allows you to pull together your most notable skills and accomplishments in a single section. If you go with a Profile section, try to be broad with regard to your statements. Let them know how experienced you are generally in the field, and name a couple of your most notable accomplishments. Don’t go into too much detail – you’ll list them individually below as well.
  • Relevant Experience

  • In this section you list each unique job or position you have held, beginning with the most recent. Be sure to include range of dates you were employed, as well as the name of the business and your job title. Below each such entry you should include three to five lines of information detailing your primary duties and accomplishments at each job.
  • If you’re using the chronological resume format, you’ve probably held a few jobs / positions within the industry in which you are seeking employment. Spend the most time and space on the jobs and accomplishments that showcase your talents and successes the best. Don’t spend four or five lines describing your first entry-level position unless you did something spectacular.
  • Other Experience

  • This section is optional. If you have held several jobs in your field over the years, you should consider putting all your experience under a single category labeled “Experience.” If you have changed careers once or twice you should put the jobs unrelated to your current career under this section.
  • Note: If you’ve changed careers recently, or have held more than a few in the past decade, you should consider using the functional resume format instead of the chronological format. For example, if you’ve been a chef for most of your life but went back to school to become a pilot, your previous experience will not be nearly as important as your skills (can you fly a plane?).
  • Education

  • Just as in your experience section(s), the entries in your education section will be in reverse chronological order. You will list the years first, the name of the institution, and any degrees you received. Under each such entry you should also give a couple lines of notable achievements (gpa, honors, etc.) for each entry.
  • Do not fret if you only have a couple entries here. Even a doctor might only have two or three entries of post high school education. The emphasis in a chronological resume is on your experience above all else. Besides, when it comes to education what matters is the quality and time you spent rather than the number of institutions you attended.

Most employers see hundreds or thousands of resumes each year, and as a result have become savvy to all the tricks people use to obscure or hide shortcomings in their past. Employers know the advantages functional resumes can have in this regard, and as a result they may scrutinize them more than a chronological resume. By choosing the chronological format you are being as up-front as possible, which can help tip things in your favor. This does not mean everybody should use a chronological resume – imagine how ridiculous it would look if a high school student used one, and under job history was only able to list a single part time job he or she had as a babysitter. Functional resumes definitely have their advantages for the inexperienced.

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