Among all the different resume formats used by job applicants, none are more popular than the chronological resume. Chances are that you’ve seen a few of these in your time, or even used one yourself. In fact, it’s so popular that most people instinctively picture the chronological format when they hear the word “resume.” So, you’ve seen them and maybe used them – but do you know how to write a chronological resume?
These tips can help you to gain more insight into that important process and help you build a chronological resume that facilitates your job search.
Why is the chronological format so popular?
First, though, it’s important to understand why the chronological format is so popular. Its name comes from the way that it lists your previous work history in chronological order.
That listing method showcases your career progression, and provides hiring personnel with an easy-to-read summary of your various jobs. It’s also compatible with the widest possible array of industries and job types, and can accommodate different experience levels too.
Who Should Use The Chronological Format?
The chronological format is the most popular resume format and is fit for someone with solid work history. It’s also the best resume format for when you’re targeting a position in which you are experienced in.
We wrote a post to help you decide which resume format is best for you.
A functional resume should a last resort, but it’s sometimes a good option for those with large employment gaps or little relevant experience.
How To Write A Chronological Resume
Step 1 – Contact Info
Make sure that you lead off with the right information about you: your contact details. It’s vital that employers know how to reach you with ease, so be sure to include all those details right at the top of your resume.
If a hiring manager needs to search for that basic information, there’s a good chance he or she will just set your resume aside and move on to the next applicant. Include your full name, city/state, phone, and e-mail.
You don’t need to include your full mailing address as it’s no longer necessary. You also don’t need to label each section “Email” or “Telephone”, it’s obvious to the reader which is which.
Step 2 – Resume Summary
Next up, you should include a resume summary. While some people favor the objective statement, a summary can be a better way to showcase your top selling points, accomplishments, key skills, and overall experience.
Think of it as your resume “elevator pitch” – a short and simple pitch to capture the employer’s attention and make him want to read on to learn more about you. Depending on your experience and skill level, you can adjust the summary to focus on your experience or skills and qualifications.
Example of a summary on a chronological resume:
We wrote a great post on how to write an excellent resume summary here.
Step 3 – Work Experience
It’s important to remember that your chronological resume still needs to have some meat to it. You don’t want to get trapped into just providing a dry recitation of your work experience. Instead, you should list your previous jobs in a way that showcases what you brought to each position. The goal is to demonstrate the value that your previous employers received from having you in their employ.
You can accomplish this in a variety of ways, but you should keep a few salient facts in mind:
- Include basic company information like company name, the dates you were employed, your title, and your achievements. Do not just list formal job duties, but instead focus on the things that you accomplished.
- Describe your achievements with separate bullet points under each company listing, rather than paragraphs. That makes it easier for the hiring manager to follow the timeline and isolate key points of interest. It also makes it easier for you to highlight certain achievements that might have more relevance to the prospective employer.
- Use action verbs that explain how your accomplished your achievements. Those verbs will help to focus the hiring manager’s attention on your unique story.
- If you don’t have achievements that directly relate to the job for which you’re applying, then look for accomplishments that demonstrate that you have skills that can be easily transferable to the job you’re seeking.
- Employers are number-drive. If you can cite real numbers that demonstrate the value you brought to your former employers’ bottom line, all the better.
- The chronological order is important too. Reverse chronology is preferred, as it starts with your most recent job and works backwards in time.
Step 4 – Education/Certifications
After your work experience section, there should be a section that details your educational experience and qualifications. You should provide the years you attended each school, the name of the school and when you graduated. Try to pay attention to the skills that the employer is focused on finding, so that you can emphasize courses of study that showcase that area of education.
You should also add any licenses or certifications that are relevant or necessary for your field.
Additional Applicable Skills (Optional)
This section is optional, but can be helpful if your prior employment doesn’t demonstrate obvious skills that would interest the hiring manager, or if you have additional skills that he or she should know about before making a decision. You can use this section to showcase relevant skills that you possess that would make you a great candidate for the job.
This can either go below the summary or at the end of your resume.
Interests and Affiliations (Optional)
This is another optional section, and allows you an opportunity to showcase any interests that might showcase your depth as an employee and person.
You should be careful to avoid controversy, however. For example, don’t list political groups that you might belong to, or interests that might draw any sort of controversy. However, if you belong to professional groups or organizations related to your field of expertise, they’re well worth mentioning.
If you do add this section, it should be one of the last sections on your resume.
Putting it all together – Example of a chronological resume:
Remember also that the chronological resume does have some built-in flexibility. It’s not just a dry and stale formula that you plug details into. For example, if you’re a student with little professional expertise, you can place the educational section before the work experience section to better highlight your educational achievements. In short, don’t be afraid to make some strategic changes to the order of the sections. The goal is always to showcase the best parts of your resume to enhance your chance of success.
Of course, resume-writing is as much art as science. Like any type of writing endeavor, it takes practice and experience to create the ideal resume for your individual needs. These tips can help you to get a handle on the process, but no formulaic tips can ever replace a well-crafted professional resume written by experienced content creators. If you want to ensure that your resume gets the results you need, contact us today for more information.