One of the most crucial parts of writing an effective resume is choosing the right format. We usually distinguish between chronological, functional, and hybrid formats, with each having distinct pros and cons. To that end, we will be discussing different resume formats and which ones work for which job seekers. Today, we’ll look at the chronological resume format.
What is it?
A chronological resume focuses entirely on your reverse chronological work history: where you worked, when you worked there, and what you did there. Check out a sample chronological resume here.
Take note that nowadays, most resumes designed for white-collar professional work include large sections of chronological work history, but are not considered chronological resumes. These more complex templates are called hybrid or combination resumes, which will be discussed in a later article. Here, we will examine the strictly chronological resume.
The chronological resume is a very straightforward and easy format to follow. Because of its simplicity, the format draws a hiring manager’s eye quickly to the applicant’s work history. It works well for people who have a stable work history with several years of relevant experience. This format is often used by job seekers who work in blue-collar industries, including truck drivers, laborers, skilled tradesmen, and plant operators. This template is also sometimes favored by job seekers in fields such as care taking, dish washing, and housekeeping, whose job duties are relatively uniform and require little explanation.
There are several types of job seekers for whom this format is not a good choice. The chronological resume focuses entirely on work history — so if you have an unstable work history, this format will bring attention to that. Likewise, if you don’t have much experience in the field you’re applying for, this format will emphasize that fact. Additionally, this format offers no place to highlight your specialized skills, so it is a poor choice if you are in an industry which requires specialized training or abilities — such as information technology, nursing, or engineering. Finally, this format may be seen as too simplistic for job seekers in professional office, administrative, or management positions.
Components of a chronological resume
Contact Information: Your name, physical address (optional), phone number with area code, and email address.
Work History: This will include the name of each company, city and state of the company’s location, your job title there, the dates of your employment, and a job description. The job description should give the recruiter a good idea of what you did on that job. Make sure to include specifics about awards or promotions you received, experience training or supervising other employees, special software or equipment you used (such as a forklift or POS software), presentations or workshops you led, and any other special achievements you had on the job. I recommend listing each job duty or accomplishment as a separate bullet point, starting each bullet point with a strong action verb. Start with the most recent job and work your way back.
Education: This would be the place to include academic degrees (GED, associate’s degree, etc.), vocational certifications (certified welder, CNA, CDL, etc.), and industry credentials (TWIC, OSHA, NCCER, ServSafe, etc.). Remember to include the name and type of diploma or degree earned, the name of the school, and the city and state.
References: Your references should not be part of your resume. References should be a separate document, one which you only provide when it is asked for. You may include a line on your resume that says, “References available upon request.”
In addition to these tips, remember that you can come by the Career Center in person during business hours for one-on-one help with your resume.
Written by Lynnette Lee.
Note: This article was originally published in 2017 and has been re-posted with updates to reach a new audience.