When composing your resume, you want to choose the best resume format or your personal background and present your skills and qualifications to an advantage. Here are some tips about how and when to use a chronological resume format and how to integrate your work experience into your overall resume structure.
How should you structure your resume?
Your resume should have three parts to its general structure. Begin your resume with a header at the center of the page that includes your full name, phone number, email address and, if you wish, your city of residence.
Next, be sure to include a summary statement. While most resumes used to begin with objective statements, the summary statement has come to replace the objective partly because it conveys more information about your unique qualifications. Use about 4-6 lines to convey your most important experience, education and skills, using sentence fragments.
Finally, create an "Experience" section to detail your employment, volunteer and other significant experiences. Format this section of your resume chronologically; start with your most recent position and work backwards.
When should you use a chronological resume format?
A chronological resume format is best when you have worked most of your career in similar areas, especially when you have moved up within an industry as shown by your career history. It is not ideal, however, if you lack applicable work history.
The alternative to a chronological resume format is a functional resume format, which places the most relevant jobs at the top of the resume, even if they are out of order. Some functional resumes begin with skills instead of jobs, purposefully excluding dates of employment. This format is recommended for people with highly diverse work experiences, those completely switching careers and people who have substantial gaps in their employment history.
How do you use a chronological resume format?
When you use a chronological resume format, start with your current or most recent job and work backwards in time. Each relevant position should be listed on the page with double spacing between entries. For each job, give the title of your position, your employer's name and the dates you were employed.
Underneath each job listed in your "Experience" section, create a list of accomplishments, using five to eight bullet points. Each point should begin with an active verb. Phrases like "Managed 20+ staff members," "Developed software programs," "Instructed CPR classes" and "Initiated successful recruitment strategy" are all examples of things one might write under their jobs in the experience section. Note that these phrases are in the past tense, indicating the work was done in the past. If you're describing your present employment, use the present tense: "Supervise staff," "Manage accounts."
If you have volunteer experience that is relevant to the job you're applying for, include it in your "Experience" section. Next to the job title, note in parentheses that this was a volunteer position. Likewise, apprenticeships or internships can also be integrated into your work history chronologically. Remember, it's a good idea for many to limit themselves to two pages as longer resumes could intimidate the hiring manger. If you have an extensive and relevant career history, include one page for every 10 years of professional experience.
Using a chronological resume format can be a straightforward and easy-to-read way to convey your experiences to potential employers. With a little guidance, you can create the perfect resume that outshines the competition.
You'll find tips and other resources about resume writing at LiveCareer.