The Chronological Resume
Should you use this resume style?

The chronological resume style is the first choice for many people. But....does this mean it is the best, or most appropriate style to use?

In all there are 3 basic resume styles. Each style has a different purpose.

The other styles are the:

One of the key differences in the various styles is the way your employment history is recorded in the document.

So....let's start with how to write about your employment history if you are using the chronological resume style.

The chronological resume and your employment history

The chronological resume is sometimes called a reverse chronological resume.

This is because you will document your professional experience, or employment history in reverse chronological order.

That is..... your most recent employment is listed first under the "Employment History" heading, followed by your next most recent job, and so on.

When should you use a chronological resume?

The answer is fairly simple.

If you have an established career direction....AND.....you are continuing on the same, or a similar career path...... then this is the style to use.

Why does this style work for this type of career move?

The reader will easily see how your career has evolved - your career path, and your planned next career move will make sense to them.

The functional resume on the other hand should be seriously considered if you are changing your career direction.

If you were for example a career changer, and used a chronological resume, the reader will probably struggle to understand the relevance of your past employment to your intended new career pathway.

The most likely outcome if you used the chronological style in these circumstances? A rejection of your application.

A combination style resume best suits people with substantial professional experience and a substantial record of achievement.

When using the combination style, you could be either a person continuing with your career path, or a career changer.

Writing a good chronological resume

Your professional profile

Usually the very first heading on your resume will be something like "Profile", "Professional Profile", or "Summary".

In my opinion the information you put under this heading, and an accompanying skills summary is perhaps the single most important piece of information in your resume.

Why?......Because it is the first substantial information the reader is learning about you.

Judgements can be quickly and easily made by the reader about your suitability for employment if you have a great profile statement.

Chronological resume - Key skills summary

It is advisable to include a key skills summary, either as a part of your profile, or under a separate heading called Key Skills Summary (or similar).

Resume Writing Tips

The skills you write about under the Key Skills Summary heading must be directly related to the selection criteria of the position you're applying for.

Where will get obtain this information? Usually from the job advertisement you are responding to.

Unsure about what skills to include in your summary?

Go to your favourite on line jobs board and do some searches for positions that are similar to the one you are seeking.

If you have to do this, don't limit your search for ads about jobs in specific locations.......what you are after here is information about what the market place generally is seeking in candidates applying for similar positions.

Before you get started on this however, set up a blank word document or similar.

As you look at the selection criteria in each job advertisement, copy and paste into your blank document any words, sentences or phrases that you consider describe capabilities that you possess.

After you have looked at 20-30 advertisements you'll probably have a considerable number of phrases and descriptions which you can adapt for inclusion in your own skills summary

In this way you can at least be confident that you are writing about your capabilities using language that is being used in the wider market place.

Chronological resume
Recording your professional experience

When creating your resume, this is one of the main areas of difference between the chronological and functional resume styles.

In a chronological resume you will need to write in considerable detail about the various positions you've held in your career - with emphasis on your achievements in each position.

This page will help you to decide what achievements to include, and how to write about them.

Here is a suggested format:

  • The position title
  • The name of your employer - consider writing a very brief statement which profiles your employer underneath the employer name. Things like its size, reputation, market share, level of sales, number of employees, where it operates etc.
  • The period over which you were employed - usually month and year you commenced to the month and year you left that position. If still employed in the role you describe month and year of commencement - present
  • A brief sentence, two at most, about what the primary focus of your position was
  • Using the heading "Achievements" or "Accomplishments" or "Contribution" fully describe your achievements or contributions

Ensure you tailor the descriptions of your achievement quotes so that they are relevant to the skills you're promoting in your profile....AND....to the position for which you are now applying

Resume Writing Tips

You will of course need to write about your career history in reverse chronological order.

The details you will need to provide will usually include each position you have held, limited to perhaps the last 5-7 years.

Your ability to write well about your achievements is very important.

The contributions you write about for each position you list on your resume is essential evidence or proof of your capabilities.

Make sure you check out how to write about career highlights and achievements.

Chronological resume - Summary

The major areas of difference in the chronological resume style are:

  • Your profile - it should position you as having solid and relevant experience and capabilities that are related to continuing your present career path.
  • Key Skills Summary - as for any resume, you will write about skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
  • Professional Experience or Career History - in this style of resume you are writing about achievements for each of the job roles that you've held.

Need more resume writing tips?

New! Comments

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