Chronological Resume: A Guide with Tips and Examples

What Is A Chronological Resume?

A chronological resume, also known as a reverse chronological resume, lists a job seeker’s professional experience starting with the most recent activities and works backwards from there. This is the most common type of resume as it shows employers your career progression and growth. A hiring manager can immediately see your most recent position before they see earlier work, such as junior positions or internships. The chronological resume format is most commonly used by job seekers with a good deal of professional experience – ideally with few work gaps. A chronological resume isn't the best match if you have little experience, large work gaps, or are in the middle of a career switch.

Why Use a Chronological Resume?

Chronological resumes are the most popular type of resume, but there are still specific job seekers who benefit from them the most. You can get the most out of a chronological resume format if:

  • You have several years' worth of professional experience in one field or industry
  • You have consistent experience using similar skills or in similar roles
  • You have very few gaps between jobs
  • The job you’re applying for puts heavy importance on experience

Another reason to use a chronological resume is simply that hiring managers are accustomed to looking at them, making it comfortable for them to read.

Of course, nothing’s perfect and certain job seekers won’t experience the benefits of chronological resumes. Here are a few types of job seekers who may want to avoid using the chronological resume format:

  • People who are career-switching
  • People with large work gaps
  • New professionals with little or no experience
  • Expert generalists with skills in multiple fields

For these job seekers, a chronological resume may obscure their real skills and capabilities. For instance, a chronological resume would display that a generalist has a mixed work history in unrelated fields, instead of showcasing their myriad transferable skills.

“The chronological resume format is most commonly used by job seekers with a good deal of professional experience – ideally with few work gaps.”

What Does a Chronological Resume Include?

A reverse chronological resume follows a very standard structure, usually including the following sections:

  • Contact information: You should always include your contact information at the very top, including your full name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile.
  • Professional title and summary: A quick summary of your professional experience, skills, and achievements.
  • Work or educational experience: This is the main section of a chronological resume. This section should detail your professional experience, starting from the most recent position, and work backwards.
  • Relevant skills: This section should list role-relevant hard and soft skills. 
  • Optional sections: These sections can be anything relevant to you that makes your resume stand out, such as Languages and Volunteer Work.

Please note that this is the most common structure, but chronological resumes can follow a variety of formats as long as your reverse chronological experience is at the top after your professional summary.

How to Write a Chronological Resume: Step-by-Step Guide

Now let’s take those steps and use them to write a chronological resume step-by-step.

1. Add contact information: Start by adding your full name, phone number, email address, and location. It’s also common to provide a link to your LinkedIn profile.For people in creative fields, you should also include a link to your professional portfolio.

2. Build your professional summary: Now craft a professional summary – these are generally two to three sentences. Your summary is an overview of your experience and skills and gives quick context to the hiring manager so they can determine your fit.

3. Add your work experience: This is the most crucial aspect of a chronological resume, so it will take up the most space. Start with your most recent job role and include any relevant experience from the past ten years.

For each entry, list your job title, employment dates, and company name. Include your location if it’s applicable – it isn’t relevant to include if the role was fully remote. Detail your main responsibilities and achievements with bullet points to make them easier for the recruiter to scan.

4. Detail your education: Next, you’ll want to list your education in the same format as your experience, starting with your most recent degree and continuing in reverse chronological order.

Provide the full name of your degrees and the educational institution where you earned them. Please note that if you’re a recent graduate, this section should replace your work experience section.

5. Enrich your resume with relevant skills: In this section, list your hard and soft skills. It’s important that you choose highly relevant skills, so review the job ad and find which skills the employer wants.

Note: It’s also a good idea to use the same wording as the employer to make your resume ATS-friendly. For instance, if the job ad calls for a sales professional with persuasion skills, ensure you use “persuasion” instead of “negotiation.”

6. Consider additional sections that showcase your qualifications: The last sections are optional but useful:

If you have relevant achievements for these sections, we encourage you to add them. For instance, showcasing your passion for travel in “Hobbies” and your Spanish proficiency in “Languages” improves your chances of securing a tourism job.

Work Experience Section: Tips and Examples

Let’s cover some strategies for creating your work experience section, as it’s the most important part:

  • Start with your job title, then list the company name and your start and end date. If you’re still working for the company, list the date as “Present.”
  • Under this, add three to five bullet points detailing your key responsibilities and largest achievements. Ensure you start each bullet point with an action verb like “planned,” “implemented,” and “increased.”
  • If you’re adding achievements, use quantifiable data to describe them as this makes a greater impact, such as “Increased profits by 15%.”

Here’s a quick chronological resume example for an elementary teacher:

Elementary School Teacher

Reed Valley Elementary, Knoxville, TN

October 2020 – Present

  • Improved student test scores by 20% and pass rate by 25% from 2020-2021 school year to 2021-2022
  • Organized a classroom and curriculum for a class of 30 children
  • Collaborated with fellow teachers to design a new test structure

Here’s another example, this time for an administrative assistant:

Administrative Assistant

Golde Insurance, Eugene, OR

April 2017 – June 2021

  • Provided administrative assistance for 6 senior executives
  • Managed office schedules, coordinating events, meetings, and seminars
  • Implemented and managed scheduling software, improving productivity by 20% and reducing no-shows by 15%
  • Verified and processed 50+ client applications per week

These samples clearly display significant achievements and quantifiable data. Hiring managers have little time and you want them to see your qualifications quickly. We recommend using these samples as a quick chronological resume template so you can build your own.

Expert Tip:

Certain fields, like computer programming, focus heavily on the skills you know and your work experience. For roles like these, try a hybrid, or combination resume. These resumes prioritize both work experience and skills by placing them both at the top, usually in separate columns.

How to Tailor a Chronological Resume for Different Jobs

A chronological resume format is straightforward, but there are ways to personalize it depending on your industry. Modifying your resume to better suit the job you’re applying for is an excellent strategy and helps capture the attention of the hiring manager.

Here are a few industries and tips to tailor your chronological resume accordingly:

  • Business and sales: Include measurable achievements, especially concerning company budgets and profits
  • Computer engineers: Put an emphasis on all relevant hard skills and clearly list them
  • Project managers: In your experience section, list responsibilities and achievements, but ensure to list completed projects and any details possible
  • Web developers: Prioritize your highly specific coding languages and any specialty boot camps you’ve attended
  • Medical professionals: List your relevant college degrees prominently, possibly in a nearby column to ensure recruiters can quickly glance at them
  • People-centric roles: Positions like teachers and charity workers should list volunteer experience higher than other job seekers to show their experience helping people

Take some time to consider what’s important to your role. Review the job description and think critically about the related skills, hobbies, and interests. It might be worth your time to talk to other people in your industry and ask them what matters at their company to get another perspective.

Common Mistakes to Avoid on a Chronological Resume

Before we finish up, let’s quickly cover some common pitfalls when you write a chronological resume and how to avoid them. Here are the most common ones:

  • Listing too much experience: Stick to your last 10 to 15 years of experience, keep it highly relevant, and try not to let it spill beyond one page (two pages if you have extensive experience)
  • Listing irrelevant experience: Don’t list any experience that isn’t in the industry you’re applying for – even if it’s recent. 
  • Listing too many responsibilities or achievements: Add 3 to 5 bullet points under each piece of experience and no more. Don’t overwhelm the recruiter.
  • Listing irrelevant responsibilities: Ensure you list important, impactful responsibilities. Don’t list anything too obvious or commonplace.

Build a Winning Chronological Resume

The chronological resume is the most popular type of resume and it’s easy to see why. It provides recruiters with a concise view of your professional experience so they can make an informed decision faster. Use our tips above to avoid common mistakes, craft a well-formatted resume, and show employers your qualifications. Short on time? Grab a chronological resume template from CVwizard’s Resume Builder to get started now.

Make an impression with your resume

Create and download a professional resume quickly and easily.