This resume format is considered the gold standard by recruiters. Sometimes called the reverse-chronological resume format, this format lists your jobs starting with your current or most recent role, making it simple for hiring managers to see your career advancement at a glance.
This format works well for seasoned professionals with strong work histories. However, it isn’t for everyone. Here, we outline everything there is to know about the chronological format to help you decide if it is right for you.
The structure of a chronological resume
Include your name, email address, phone number and location. Your mailing address is not required on a modern resume but highly experienced candidates should consider adding links to their LinkedIn profiles or their professional website, if applicable.
Your professional summary is your elevator pitch, a two-to-five sentence teaser that highlights what you bring to the table. Name your most sought-after skills and experience here.
This is the primary focus of a chronological resume format. This section should be listed in reverse-chronological order with your most recent job at the top of the list. In a chronological resume, this section should be detailed. Use data and metrics wherever possible to show the impact your work has had on past employers.
List your most relevant hard and soft skills in this section, paying close attention to those called out in the job ad.
List your last degree (i.e., MBA, JD or BA/BS). If you don’t have a college degree but have a lot of work experience, feel free to leave this section off your resume.
Choosing the right resume format is an essential step in proving to recruiters and hiring managers that you are the right person for the job. While the chronological format might be the preferred format of recruiters, it isn’t for every job seeker. You should use a chronological resume if:
You have work experience and a strong career trajectory.
If you’ve climbed the ranks in the same field over several years, writing a chronological resume will help show your recruiters the steady progress you’ve made in your chosen field. Using this format makes it easy for hiring managers to see career growth and understand that the position you are applying for is the next logical step in your career.
You have a consistent work history.
Recruiters look closely at an applicant’s work history. If you’ve been employed consistently over the course of your career, this format will help show off your reliability.
You have held the same job titles in different industries.
If you’re looking for a similar job title in a different industry — say, being an executive assistant in an ad agency instead of a law firm — this resume format is also a solid choice.
When to consider a different format
Just because recruiters love this format doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone. Some job seekers might be better off choosing a functional or combination format to show off their unique skills and experience. The resume format you choose will depend on several factors. Consider choosing either a combination or functional resume format if:
You have little to no work experience.
If you recently graduated or are just entering the workforce, you’ll want to emphasize your skills and education over your limited work history by choosing another format.
You’ve had multiple roles within the same company.
If you’ve been with the same employer for many years in various roles, choosing a combination resume format could better highlight your career progression.
You’re making a major career change.
Since a chronological resume format emphasizes direct work experience over skills, those making major changes in their professional lives should choose a functional or combination resume to highlight their transferable skills.
You have major employment gaps.
Long periods of unemployment between jobs will be highlighted with this format. Choosing a different resume format can make gaps in employment less noticeable.
You’re a job hopper.
If you have bounced around from job to job, are a freelancer, or work in the gig economy, this resume format will be difficult to use to your advantage. Instead, consider a functional resume format that focuses more on skills than on work history.
This job seeker has used the chronological resume format to show off her strong career progression as she seeks a new role as an event planner. Since the chronological format makes it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to scan a candidate’s work history, it’s clear at a glance that Amy has risen through the ranks during her career.
Other candidates use this format to show off a solid work history, with no gaps or layoffs in sight. It works well for this mid-level job seeker because it shows a consistent, industry-specific work history. The chronological resume format aligns the employment dates to quickly show that there are no gaps in the timeline of the applicant’s career.
Highlights Job Tenure for Those Switching Industries
This job seeker adeptly uses the chronological format to show off his breadth of experience and relevant roles as he seeks a position in a new industry. The format helps recruiters see quickly that this candidate has held roles as an executive assistant for more than nine years and that his skills transfer easily from industry to industry.
How should you order information on a chronological resume?
Every resume should contain the same basic five sections. The difference between resume formats is how these sections are ordered on the page.
Here is how to order the sections of a combination resume format: header, professional summary, work experience, skills and education. For more information about how to layout a chronological resume, see the diagram on our resume formats page.
Do recruiters have a resume format preference?
The resume you create should be formatted in a way that best showcases your unique work experience. While the chronological styling is usually considered the standard resume format, and recruiters are the most familiar with it, this choice is only effective for candidates who have clear work histories. People with transferable skills looking to move jobs or those that have gaps in their resumes should consider different options.
How do I show a promotion in my chronological resume?
There are two options for how to list a promotion on a chronological resume. The easiest is to list it the way you list all the other jobs you’ve had by creating a separate entry in your work history. Here you would place the name of the employer, your job title, and dates of employment above a bulleted list of job responsibilities.
The other option is to create multiple entries under one header for the company, listing each of the job titles you held, the dates you held them, along with a list of duties.
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