Writing a Chronological Resume

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A chronological resume is one of the simpler resume types. Its focus is on your work history, which is listed in reverse chronological order. Many prospective employers are more familiar with this resume type, and it presents a basis for discussing your work history, which is emphasized with specific jobs, dates and time periods.

Because of the nature of information included, the chronological resume is your best option if you are applying for a job that is closely related to your previous work experience, since this is its focus. As with any resume type, a chronological resume has both advantages and disadvantages, and the decision to use one should be made based on your circumstances.

The layout of the chronological resume usually includes the following sections (in order):

  • Personal Information heading
  • Objective (optional)
  • Summary of Qualifications (optional)
  • Education and Training
  • Work Experience
  • Skills or Accomplishments

Benefits of a chronological resume

To decide if this type of resume is the right choice, consider the benefits that turn using the chronological resume into an advantage as you apply for various positions.

  1. More recent work experience is closely related to the position for which you are applying, which brings attention to the relevant job descriptions and titles.
  2. The timeline of your career is easy to see in the reverse chronological order in which it is presented.
  3. The organizations you’ve worked for are more prominent in the chronological format.
  4. The timeline that is inherent in the format is perceived as more fact based by prospective employers, which gives it a little more credibility.

Drawbacks of a chronological resume

While the benefits might make choosing the chronological resume type a good choice, you also want to consider the drawbacks before selecting this type of resume. If any of the drawbacks apply to your situation, carefully consider whether the strength of this resume turns into a weakness for any of the following reasons:

  1. Any gaps in employment history are much more obvious in the chronological resume because of the reverse chronological order in which experience is listed.
  2. Frequent job changes are highlighted in the timeline, which can be a red flag to prospective employers.
  3. Your age can be made apparent by the timeline inherent in this resume type, and while age should not play a factor in a hiring manager’s decision, sometimes being much older or younger can hurt your chances.
  4. The nature of a chronological resume is sometimes too general or not detailed enough for a targeted resume for a job posting with very specific requirements.
  5. A career path that does not appear to make sense or follow logical thinking is made more obvious in the chronological resume.

Layout and what to include on a chronological resume

The Personal Information Heading goes at the top of a chronological resume in the same way it does on most other resume types. Follow the normal resume formatting guidelines for creating this section.

The Objective section is optional, but if you decide to include this section in a chronological resume, write a strong objective that is relevant to the position for which you are applying. You may also include a Summary of Qualifications section to strengthen your resume for a more targeted resume that addresses the requirements of a particular position.

Following the objective section is usually an Education and Training section. You can combine the type areas, or create separate areas for each depending on the amount of information each contains. In many instances, particular jobs have educational expectations that are either preferred or required. Keeping the information close to the top allows prospective employers to determine quickly whether you meet their requirements. For the degrees you’ve earned, include the degree title, the name of the issuing institution and the date you received the degree. The training part of this section of a chronological resume usually includes a list of any certifications, professional licenses or educational/professional honors you hold.

The next section is your Work Experience. This information is listed in reverse chronological order and is the defining portion of the chronological resume. Basically, it’s a timeline of your career that shows your professional accomplishments. However you format the information, you should list the following information for each position: name and location of the company, the years during which you worked there and a brief description of your responsibilities in sentence or bullet format. Consider the below example:

2007- Present

Company name and location

Title of your position

  • Responsibility or accomplishment
  • Responsibility or accomplishment

A Skills section may also be incorporated underneath your work history. In this section, you highlight specific skills and/or accomplishments that are relevant to the position for which you are applying. If you also chose to include a Summary of Qualifications, make sure you are not duplicating information and that everything you include demonstrates why you are a valuable addition to any company.

When you choose to use a chronological resume and the layout described above, ensure the benefits of using this resume type outweigh any drawbacks. You always want to present your experience in the best way possible to help secure an interview with prospective employer, so if the chronological resume isn’t the best choice for your particular situation, consider one of the other common resume types.

In addition, always work on making yourself stand out from other applicants by writing about your accomplishments in the right way and showing your personality to give prospective employers a sense of who you are as both an employee and a person.