Resumes are the first step in getting your dream job and reaching the goal that you have set for yourself in life. It is meant to furnish the employer with a summary of your professional career and let them be aware of the skills that you have acquired over the years.
We know there are several resume types and formats available for us to pick from. Unfortunately, this can create a lot of confusion at times.
As you can see in the picture above, there are three main resume formats: chronological, functional and combination. A chronological resume focuses heavily on your work experience. It makes your progress visible to the hiring manager. A functional resume is meant to focus on your relevant skills. The skills section expands in this resume format and takes up the majority of your resume. In addition, your experience is grouped with your skill section in a functional resume. Lastly, as the name suggests, a combination resume is a resume that mixes or combines the features of both chronological and functional resumes.
It is advised that when in doubt choose a chronological resume format. A chronological resume is undoubtedly the most popular choice in most cases.
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What is a chronological resume?
A chronological resume lists our most recent position on top and the previous ones below it. A chronological resume format is meant to highlight your consistency. A chronological resume will be your best choice if you have been continuously working in your field for years. A chronological resume template logically organises your experience in levels.
A chronological resume format is also highly preferred by recruiters as it highlights the feature that they all are looking for: your previous experience and the expertise acquired. It gives them exactly what they have been looking for.
Keep in mind to avoid using chronological resume format if you have a gap in work history and have frequently changed jobs in previous years. Also, your chronological resume will most probably go through ATS ( Applicant Tracking System) before reaching human hands. ATS is a software companies use to rate the applications received in order of their relevance to the job. Therefore, a resume written in chronological resume format is easiest for an ATS to scan, giving you an edge if you have framed your resume based on chronological resume format. That is why only a well-written resume will not hold you in good stead but also if it is tailored specifically to the job.
Structure of a chronological resume
As you can see in the chronological resume example above, a chronological resume has a very straightforward structure. Your most recent achievement/ qualification comes first, followed by the previous one and so on in that order.
Here is a list of all the important sections that you must include in your chronological resume:
This section of the chronological resume contains your email and phone number. You can also link your social media profiles like LinkedIn etc, as your contact information. Many recruiters like to visit their applicants’ social media handles to gain more insights into their personalities.
A professional title is derived from your previous experiences and the type of work you have been doing. It can also be based on the job that you are applying for.
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A resume objective gives a clear idea to the recruiter about your aims and objectives and helps them in quick decision making as they mostly look for individuals whose choices align with that of the company.
This section in your chronological resume plays a very crucial role in your selection. This is one of the sections on which the recruiter spends the most time. This section should also be framed explicitly with a bottom-up approach if you are using chronological resume format.
Your educational qualification forms your key and basic skills that make you eligible for a specific job. Please spend some time framing this section to look tailored to the post you are applying for.
Your top skills (both hard and soft)
Make sure to mention your top skills, hard and soft both. Your hard skills are your educational skills, the professional skills you learned through your studies in college. While soft skills are your behavioural skills.
An additional section is for other skills that you acquired or achievements. It mainly includes your extra-curricular activities like volunteering. You must also mention your language skills if you know more than one or two languages and your proficiency in each one of them.
A chronological resume is suitable for an experienced individual as well as a fresh graduate. If you are a new graduate, all you need to do is rearrange the sections of your resume. For example, keep your education section on top and organise your qualifications in most recent to previous or say higher to lower order.
A chronological resume is suitable for an experienced individual as well as a fresh graduate. If you are a fresh graduate, all you need to do is rearrange the sections of your resume. Keep your education section on top and even in that organise your qualifications in most recent to previous or say higher to lower order.
Chronological resume pros and cons
Now, before you decide whether the choice of chronological resume is going to help you in your job search and is the right choice for you, you must know the merits and demerits of a chronological resume format.
Chronological resume pro
- The chronological resume format is meant to highlight your job experience. It lists the positions you’ve held and for how long.
- Recruiters tend to prefer it as it gives them a clear and well-organised picture of your career path and highlights how you have traversed that path. It is also easy for them to scan this format as they are more worked up with it.
- Especially when you are hiring for a senior position, a chronological resume format will highlight your experience better than any other.
- A chronological resume format is going to give you an edge if you have experience with well-known companies.
Now that we have seen the pros of a chronological resume format, let’s look at some of its cons.
- A chronological resume format will provide your history with proper timelines. And hence any gap in your history is going to be so visible.
- It is generally not preferred if you are applying for a field you have no experience in. For example, if you’ve been a typist for five years and now you are looking for a switch to a managerial position. It will be difficult for the recruiter to look beyond your typing expertise if you have crafted your resume in chronological format.
- It is generally not advisable or best suited for a fresher candidate as it will highlight your lack of experience. But in case you choose this format to draft your resume, keep your educational qualifications on top. List them in chronological order that is higher up format. Mention your latest degree or diploma on top and subsequently list the older ones.
- Since the chronological resume format is one of the most preferred formats among the candidates, it’ll become difficult for you to stand out from the pack if you are using this format.
Chronological resume writing guide
Now that you have enough information about a chronological resume and how to structure it, here is a little guide for you that will help you write a winning chronological resume.
The first step in drafting your resume will be to review the job description. You must know that each job is different, and you will have to present your skills and achievements in a way that seems closer to the requirement of the position you are applying for. Tailor your resume well to the job position. Look for the keywords in the job descriptions and use them in your chronological resume format to rank higher in ATS. And ATS stands for Application tracking System. It is a software specially designed to filter out the best and suitable candidates from hoards of applications received by the company. This ATS scans your resume for keywords, and your resume may get rejected in the first step if it doesn’t have required keywords.
Use the keywords in your work experience or look for the achievements in your past roles related to the job requirements. Listing them down will let the recruiter know that you have exactly what the company is seeking.
The personal information that you share on your resume must be drafted in two sections as follows.
Name and job title
This section may come off as very easy to draft, but the problem arises when you think about the job title that you should put on your resume.
Here you have two choices, whether to put the job title of the position you are applying for or the job title of your previous role. However, consider using a different format instead of a chronological resume format if you are making a switch. Preferably combination, as it enables you to modify the job title section slightly. However, you can choose to write, “Looking for a (job title) position.”
You can also choose to skip the job title section altogether if you are too confused about what to write.
By the rule, put only your current contact info on the resume. In addition, you should put your email and mobile number, and for reference, you can also add your LinkedIn profile info.
The Resume objective is the first section in your resume that gives the recruiter an idea about what you have to offer to the company if he chooses to hire you. The summary is about your previous experience making it more suitable for individuals having some work experience, say more than two years. While a resume objective is ideal for a fresher. It greatly highlights your skills.
This is the heart of a chronological resume. A chronological resume format is designed to highlight your work experience. Keep the following points in mind to gain the most of this section:
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- Follow a bottom-up approach. Write your latest/current position on top and subsequently list the older ones. This is the reason a chronological resume format is frequently referred to as the reverse chronological format.
- You must list the dates of your work along with the company name. Mention your job title and for how long you worked there.
- Use only bullet points. It not only gives a clear look to your resume but also helps you to keep it short.
- Responsibilities are acceptable but make sure to mention your achievements. The recruiter is more interested in knowing what you achieved while burdened with a certain responsibility.
- Use a lot of action words to come out as a strong candidate. Words like managed, achieved etc show your responsibility.
- Make sure you write only about the relevant experiences. Omit everything that doesn’t fall in the category of skills mentioned in the job description.
No doubt that this section makes up for an important element in your resume. Mention the relevant ones on top but maintain a balanced distribution of soft, hard and technical skills. You can also highlight these same relevant skills in your work experience, achievement and objective or summary of your resume.
- Hard skills are skills that you acquire through your education. These skills are measurable. They could range from CAD to programming to a graphic designer to photoshop etc.
- Soft skills are personal skills of people. These skills are intrinsic in nature. For eg, attitude, flexibility, motivation etc.
If your skills are your biggest strength, then consider using a functional resume in that case.
Depending upon your experience, you can change the order of the chronological resume format and choose to mention your educational qualification section above your work experience section.
Make this section speak for you by mentioning details of your education. This section is supposed to give out information that communicates your values and skills clearly and succinctly. List university name, graduation degree, major, minor, honors etc. If your grades have been exceptional, you can also mention your scores and any other relevant coursework or projects.
An additional section in chronological resume format is like a cherry on top. It can earn you that extra point and edge. Mention your other achievements, certifications, languages, hobbies and interests. You should specifically mention any volunteer work you have been doing.
Additional tips for chronological resume
- Your ability to convey more in fewer words will be of great help in drafting a winning resume. Studies have reported that a recruiter has not more than a few minutes to scan your resume. A resume that extends to several pages is going to get rejected in the first scan itself. Hence, it’s wiser to keep your resume one page long. However, if you are at a higher post and want to list down all of your previous positions held, your resume can extend up to two pages.
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- If you have years and years of work history, you’d probably want to filter only the relevant job position held earlier and mention only those. Also don’t go back more than 15 years. Prioritise only the first 5 or 10 years of your experience and highlight the relevant skills.
- A cover letter is a great tool to grab the recruiter’s attention. A cover letter is designed to show your interest in the job and structured to highlight what you will bring to the company. It is also a great tool to throw in extra information on your resume if you have missed any.
Chronological resume template
If you look closely at this template, you will find all the relevant information about the candidate fitted to a page.
On the right side of this template, you must notice four sections: objective, work experience, education, and additional areas. Contact and skill are in the right side sections. The best feature of this template is its organisational structure which gives it a voluminous look.
This is another template of the chronological resume format. This template has not used different columns, but rather, it follows a linear structure. This structure gives your chronological resume format a more sharp and clean look.
Chronological resume examples
In the case of a recent graduate, the work experience is minimal, and unfortunately, the chronological resume format is meant to design precisely that. Hence, to tackle this problem, we change the order of sections in the resume. Experts have advised writing the educational qualification section above work experience.
Chronological resume FAQ
Q.1 Do resumes always have to be chronological?
Ans: You have to understand that a resume doesn’t guarantee a job, but at least it can bag you an interview. Resumes do not always have to be written in chronological format. But it is best suited for individuals with a rich job experience and robust career.
Q.2 Which is a better format: functional or chronological resume?
Ans: Individuals who have had short-term jobs and non-standard work experience should use a functional resume format. It is also well suited for individuals having gaps in their careers. At the same time, a chronological resume format is a good choice for individuals at entry-level positions or for people who have climbed the ladder to higher positions in a company.
Q.3 Who is the chronological resume format most suitable for?
Ans: The entire focus of a chronological resume format is on the work experience of the candidate. Candidates with a robust and continuous work history should definitely go for a chronological resume. It relates your expertise and experience directly to the position you are seeking. A chronological resume format shows your abilities to the employers and demonstrates your career growth. Take full advantage of the chronological resume format and mention specific details and accomplishments to give the interviewer insights into your achievements. You can make this format work for you even if you are changing careers.
Q.4 How to make my resume stand out using chronological resume format?
- To make your resume stand out, one of the things that a person must keep in mind is to be succinct. Try to give out more information in less words. One way to do it is by tailoring your resume well. Write directly for the job giving only the relevant details. And one of the things that is going to help you greatly here is the job requirements as mentioned in the job description. This way you will be in a good position, even if you don’t have all the required skills. By highlighting the skills as per the job, you are mirroring the job requirement.
- This brings us to our next point that what actually needs to be highlighted. Focus on your achievements and not your responsibilities. Also don’t forget to add necessary details. The recruiter doesn’t only want to know your achievements, he also wants to know how you were to achieve that feat and the impact you made after that achievement.
- Draft your summary statement carefully. Provide important details about your qualifications and don’t use generic statements. Also throw in solid digits, percentage increase etc.
Q.5 Should I also include short term jobs where I have worked only for a few months?
Ans: A chronological resume format focuses on your work experience. It highlights that part of your professional life and it is your personal choice what you want to include in your resume and what you choose to leave out. Experts say that you should stay at a company for at least two years, as it shows your commitment. It’s also important to be honest on your resume. Hence, it’s okay to add one or two jobs that lasted a year or less. Finally, prepare yourself well for any questions that might be fired your way during your interview. Keep in mind that a large part of the interview is navigation and how well you answer the interviewer’s concerns.
However, a functional resume will be a better choice if you’ve had several short term jobs over the years.
Q.6 Some of the cons are also present namely:
Ans: It really is a good choice only for highly skilled professionals who have a very diverse skill set. Say, for example, you are applying for a position that requires experience in 34 different fields and you want to show all of that on your CV, so the Combined CV is really the one for you. It’s hard to organize. As a professional with diverse skills, it can be difficult to decide which part of your experience to focus on in the combined CV format.
The chronological resume format will not work well if you are new to business. You may have all the required skills and applicable experience outside of paid work, such as volunteering and internships. But if you choose a chronological resume, the hiring manager will only see your lack of paid work experience, not your skills. In this case, a functional resume, which emphasizes skills rather than linear work experience, will help support your case. With a clear model of success, hiring managers will see that you are a motivated and valuable candidate, oriented towards success. Give three to five examples of your best results for each job you had.
Here’s everything you need to know about writing a chronological resume: Chronological resume template is one of the most versatile resume formats. Chronological CVs draw the recruiter’s attention to your career path. That said, they are universal enough to be used by new graduates and applicants who are also applying for junior positions. To get the most out of your chronological resume, you need to tailor it to the job posting. This format is best used by those with a consistent work history and increasing work levels over time. If you have significant gaps in your career or have changed sectors or positions several times, you may consider using a functional or combined resume format.