This article is for you if you’re unsure whether to utilize a chronological resume format, also known as a reverse-chronological resume format or if you need assistance writing one.
This post will also be helpful to you if you have been advised to utilize a functional resume since you are changing careers or have a work gap. (And you might be surprised by my counsel on this subject.)
Here is what you will discover:
- A chronological resume is what? What is a functional resume, exactly?
- Why using a functional resume is rarely advantageous and why using the chronological resume structure will result in more interviews
- How to write a resume in chronological order
Definition: What is a Chronological Resume?
A chronological resume lists your professional experience according to the dates on which each event occurred. Your most recent positions should be listed first in your work experience section, working your way down from the top. Your current or most recent job will therefore be shown at the top of the section. Your next most recent employment will be listed on your resume below that.
This is the format for a chronological resume, also referred to as a reverse chronological resume. (They are the same; the terms are only different. Put your most recent position at the top of your work experience list at all times. Here are a few illustrations.
What is Reverse Chronological Order?
Reverse chronological order, as previously noted, refers to the listing of your prior employment in date order, starting with the most recent position at the top. Your oldest or most recent position on the list should be your final entry.
Keep in mind that you’re not required to list every job you’ve ever had! You can decide where to start narrating your professional story and whether to omit a particular job for tactical purposes (for instance, if it was merely a temporary post that has no bearing on your current career path).
Therefore, I’m not advocating that you start with your first position. However, after deciding on a starting point for your job history on your resume, you should list those positions in the manner previously mentioned: reverse chronological order.
Chronological Resume Example:
Here is an example employment history section from a chronological resume in case you’re still unclear about what chronological order looks like on a resume:
Senior Product Manager
Brief paragraph describing the role. Don’t write too much here, because you should mostly show your accomplishments and work via bullet points1. Accomplishment 1
2. Accomplishment 2
3. Accomplishment 3
The most recent or active position is presented at the top of the work history, and the prior jobs are listed in order from most recent to most recent.
The format of a chronological resume is now clear to you, along with an actual example or template you may use. I’ll then go into why this format is preferred by hiring managers and recruiters and why it will help you land more interviews.
Should Your Resume Be Chronological?
After five years of recruiting, I can categorically state that your CV should be chronological.
Your resume should be in chronological order for several reasons, the first of which is that hiring managers and recruiters are accustomed to seeing it this way.
The last thing you want to do is throw them off while they are reading your CV and attempting to understand your past.
When I worked as a recruiter, I received feedback from several hiring managers telling me to have the candidate update their functional resumes in chronological format. Because they cannot learn enough from a functional CV, they simply don’t want to read it.
(If you’re unfamiliar, a functional resume omits dates and simply outlines your abilities and previous employment. Instead of arranging them chronologically, it organizes them by functional area or skill type. So that’s how a functional resume is defined.
Hiring managers and recruiters are deprived of crucial information and context as a result. They are less able to comprehend your professional history or determine how recently or how long you have employed particular talents. They are less likely to feel confident inviting you for an interview as a result.
(Hiring managers want to interview candidates who have a good chance of succeeding in the position. Before taking up their time with an interview, they want the information they need to make that decision.
There is no reason for a hiring manager to strain to comprehend the one or two functional resumes they receive given that each online position receives hundreds of applicants. They’ll simply go on to a chronological resume, which is the structure they prefer.
When is a Chronological Resume Not Advantageous?
Many professionals will advise you that a chronological resume is not useful if you have gaps in your employment history, have followed an unconventional or non-traditional career path, or are trying to change careers.
Even in these situations, hiring managers typically favor chronological resumes if they are well-written.
In your employment history section, you can explain any gaps in your career.
Even when making a career move, you can modify your work history to highlight the accomplishments that are most pertinent to the position you are applying for right now.
We have a comprehensive article on how to write a resume for a career shift if you need additional assistance with this. You can read more about why a functional resume isn’t recommended by clicking that link and one of the career coaches I interviewed for the piece echoes my arguments. She said, to wit:
As a former corporate recruiter, I am not a fan of functional resumes. Recruiters are taught to scan resumes chronologically. When you take the experience out of context or “order,” it often gives the recruiter the impression you are trying to hide or fudge experience.
The bottom conclusion is that attempting to conceal the dates and chronology of your work will only irritate and perplex hiring managers, cost you job interviews, and upset you.
As a result, I firmly believe that resumes should be chronological in order.
Let’s talk about how to begin creating it now that we’ve discussed the differences between a chronological and functional resume and which one you should be utilizing if you want to land more interviews!
How Do You Write a Chronological Resume?
Make sure you are familiar with the format and have read the chronological resume example from earlier in this article before you begin writing your resume.
The steps to writing your chronological resume are as follows:
1. Enter company names, dates of employment, and job titles
Dates can be listed in terms of years, months, or years and months. Whatever you choose, stick to it.
If you’d like, you can also provide the city and state of each position. When setting up your chronological resume, this is also optional and a matter of personal preference.
2. If you held multiple roles within a company, show each job title separately on your resume
This is crucial so that potential employers may understand how far along you have come inside the organization. Typically, recruiters adore this!
Another chronological CV is seen below with two different job titles listed under the same employer. The branch Manager was given to this person as a promotion from Sales Rep.
3. Write bullet points describing each role you’ve held
There should be several bullet points in each role outlining what you did for the organization. (Rather than merely saying “responsible for “).
Start with a verb, such as “guided six team members…,” or “increased our department revenue by…”
4. Write a brief paragraph to describe each role (above the bullet points)
This is not required. It is possible to skip any paragraph content and proceed straight from job titles to bullets, as you can see in the resume example above.
If you’d prefer, you can compose a brief statement outlining your overall contributions to the role. The reader will have greater context as a result.
But this sentence needs to be brief, and you should never use it in place of bullets. I advise using no more than 2–3 sentences. The bullets will be read more carefully and are of greater importance.
5. Add metrics and data when possible
Being detailed and emphasizing results rather than tasks on your CV will help you land more interviews. So make an effort to include metrics in your bullet points, such as money amounts, percentage improvements, the number of individuals you led or coached, etc.
To have analytics, you don’t have to work in sales! (I frequently hear this common complaint.)
As an illustration, as the news blog editor for a business, you could write:
Edited and published 30 articles per month for the company blog, which was read by 40,000 people each month and generated an average of 10 qualified leads for the business.
The better, the more descriptive you can be on your CV. Therefore, if you see a chance to include details, information, or measurements in any of the paragraphs or bullets you’ve created, take it.
Another illustration of how to talk about outcomes rather than obligations is as follows:
Which is more impressive-sounding?
A) “Handles all incoming requests for the company and oversees the customer support personnel.”
B) “Led the 22-person customer care staff that answered more than 250 incoming phone calls and emails each day.”
The second choice will catch people’s eye and lead to more job interviews with prestigious companies.
6. Add other necessary resume sections
The following essential elements should be included in your chronological resume once you have listed your professional experience in chronological order:
- Your header/contact info
- A resume summary paragraph
- Your skills section
- Your education section
This article offers further information on the key elements of a resume if you need more assistance understanding what order to put things in and how everything fits together in the “big picture” of your resume.
7. Consider adding optional sections
You can also include one or more of the optional resume sections on your chronological resume:
- Volunteer work/community involvement
- Honors & awards
- Testimonials from past coworkers/managers
- A secondary skills section (sometimes it makes sense to separate your skills into two sections. See the image below for an example)
If you’ve read everything up to this point, you now understand why companies prefer the chronological resume format, often known as the reverse chronological resume.
It displays the crucial information that employers want to know about your employment history, including details other functional resume styles omit, such as when and for how long you performed each sort of work.
Many employers won’t be interested in interviewing you if you don’t have this information.
They simply don’t have enough information to assess your suitability for their position. As a result, at best, they will ask you to send a chronological resume in its place, and at worst, they will invite other candidates to interview without contacting you.
In order to prevent that circumstance, you should list your professional experience in reverse chronological order.
You will receive more callbacks when you apply for employment and be able to find a new job faster by combining this with sections outlining your talents, education, and other important characteristics.
This post offers 3 additional work experience examples that adhere to the above recommendations if you want to see more resume examples and tips.