Everything you need to know about writing the most common resume format

For most professionals, a chronological resume is the best format to capture skills, experience, and achievements. That's because this resume format focuses on the employment history section, which gives plenty of space to explain the candidate's career trajectory.

The reverse-chronological resume format is also what hiring managers prefer to see, meaning that an alternate structure could even decrease your chances of landing the job. 

To keep that from happening to you, let's explore how to use a reverse-chronological resume format. You'll also find a few guiding examples that can help you to produce a perfect example of the most popular resume out there.

What is a chronological resume?

The chronological resume is a format that focuses on the employment history section where work experience is listed. The main idea is that you start with your most recent or current position and work backward through all your relevant experience of the past 10 years. 

NOTE: This structure is sometimes called the “reverse-chronological resume format.”

It's been said that past behavior is the most reliable predictor of future outcomes. Therefore, prospective employers rely on your career accomplishments to get an idea of what you can do for them. That's part of what makes the reverse-chronological resume format so popular. 

When hiring managers can quickly digest what you've done in the past, they are able to get a feel for whether you'll be the right candidate for their team. By focusing your career history on the most recent experiences and working backward for about 10 years, you provide the most up-to-date and accurate representation of what you bring to the table. 

It's critical to note that the structure of your reverse-chronological resume is important, too. How the information is laid out on the page will aid the hiring manager – who's spending mere seconds glancing at it – to easily find the information about your career history they want. 

How to structure a chronological resume

Your chronological resume will contain at least six sections with relevant headers. Here's an outline of what you should include in your chronological resume:

Contact information 

You want the hiring manager to contact you for an interview, right? Well, here's the place to make sure they have the details they need to do just that. Include your name (it doesn't have to be your full legal name – just use whatever you go by), location, phone number, and email address. You can also add links to your LinkedIn profile (if it's been properly optimized) and any online portfolios you may have

A headline

The headline grabs the reader's attention. Write a one-line blurb that contains the title of the job found in the job description, along with a couple of relevant keywords that will help you to stand out from the crowd. 

A summary or professional profile

Your professional summary is a three to five-sentence paragraph that outlines the major events of your career. Start with something that mirrors the title on the job description and match it up with the hard and soft skills you have. Throw in at least one achievement.


This is the place for a bulleted list of skills. Include 9-12 skills that you have that will show the hiring manager you have what it takes to get the job done. Use the same language and keywords you find in the job description to ensure that your resume makes it past the ATS.

Work experience or employment history

Now you've come to the nitty-gritty part of your resume – what you've done, when, and where. Keep in mind that hiring managers will look to your past accomplishments to see what you have to bring to their team. It may be tempting to dump everything you've ever done, but relevancy is critical. 

Let's take a closer look at how to write this section. 

Always list the name of the company you work for first. This is important because if you have a company where you held multiple roles, you can stack the roles to show progression. You need the following information as a sub-heading:

  • Employer name

  • Location

  • Dates worked

  • Job title

Then, add 4-5 bullet points to discuss various aspects of your time in the position. You can focus on topics like:

  • Projects or tasks you completed

  • Skills you used

  • Awards and achievements

  • Numbers and statistics that quantify your successes

Make sure to list these entries starting with your most recent or current job and working backward, as this is a fundamental component of the reverse-chronological resume format.


For your education, you can (and should) include degrees and the colleges you've attended. However, don't forget about things like professional development classes, certifications, and licenses. Spell out acronyms and omit your graduation dates. Again, this section should be presented in reverse-chronological format. 

Additional sections like awards, hobbies, or languages

Sometimes, there are things you've done outside of the regular work day that are also important to securing a new job. You can create additional sections on your resume for things like public speaking, special projects, and awards. Just remember, if you're adding it to your reverse-chronological resume, it needs to be relevant to the hiring manager who will receive it.

Tips on when to use a reverse-chronological resume format

The chronological resume is considered the standard resume format because it suits the widest range of professionals, including people in healthcare, IT, law, HR, business, and education. It's especially useful if you've enjoyed a progressive career with advancements through promotions and new jobs.

The chronological resume is less suitable for creative or independent professions, where gig work and short-term contracts are part of the career path. In those cases, alternative resume formats like functional or hybrid models may be more suitable. 

Expert Tip: You should try to use the hybrid format instead of the functional format. There' a bit of a stigma associated with using the functional resume format.

How to use reverse-chronological resume format

Now that you know what a chronological resume is, what the outline looks like, and who should use it, let's dig into the actual writing part.

The format of your chronological resume is almost as important as the writing, because a clean and organized layout is one of the best ways to show that you're a professional and motivated candidate. 

Make sure to use bold or italics to highlight the key information within your resume, including the employment history section. 

Examples of chronological resumes

To get a sense of what goes into a great chronological resume, let's look at the employment history section for a customer service representative:


Customer Service Representative, Fort Worth, TX

August 2020 - present 

  • Handled customer calls and responded to queries about services, product malfunctions, promotions, and billing

  • Worked to address all customer concerns in a timely and effective manner

  • Calmly handled 200+ calls each day

  • Developed successful tactics to upsell products and services to customers

  • Piloted a feedback program that resulted in a 15% increase in branch sales

Here's an option for a Server:

Rooster Bar & Grill, Boston

Lead Server

June 2018 - August 2022

  • Managed a staff of 15 as the Lead Server at a high-end downtown restaurant

  • Achieved promotion to Lead Server six months after joining the team

  • Upsold wine pairing suggestions to customers, based on preferences

  • Memorized ingredients and allergens on a menu of 30+ dishes

  • Performed bartending responsibilities during holiday weekends and special events

Check out this example for a Sales Associate:

ABC Pet Shop, Durham, NC

Sales Associate 

September 2021 - present

  • Maintained a clean shop environment and neat product displays

  • Gained recognition for reliability and zero absence work record

  • Fed animals and made sure they had access to fresh water

  • Answered customer questions and referred to other departments

  • Helped customers find products that best fit the needs of their pet

  • Maintained accurate work logs and reported inconsistencies

Chronological resume template

If you're looking for a little more help creating a flawless chronological resume, here's a template that can allow you to quickly plug in your information and be assured of the right format. These are the essential sections, but you may find hobbies, memberships, or other additional sections to be necessary on your resume.

Header information

Your name & job title

Phone number

Email address


LinkedIn profile

Professional summary

Add a paragraph explaining who you are, what you do, your industry and your area of expertise. Show off your soft and hard skills and give an example of a past accomplishment to show how you can add value to a new employer. 


  • Hard skill

  • Hard skill

  • Hard skill

  • Soft skill

  • Soft skill

  • Soft skill

Employment history

Employer name and job title

Dates worked and location

  • Main duties and responsibilities

  • A key skill demonstrated

  • Measurable achievement #1

  • Measurable achievement #2

Employer name and job title

Dates worked and location

  • Main duties and responsibilities

  • A key skill demonstrated

  • Measurable achievement #1

  • Measurable achievement #2

Employer name and job title

Dates worked and location

  • Main duties and responsibilities

  • A key skill demonstrated

  • Measurable achievement #1

  • Measurable achievement #2


Degree name, school

Dates attended, location

  • Optional bullet point for GPA

  • Optional bullet point for leadership positions

Degree name, school

Dates attended, location

How to adapt the reverse-chronological resume format for students

Whenever possible, first-time job seekers should aim to create a reverse-chronological resume. However, they may have to resort to an alternative if they lack experience. 

Trying to land your first job as a student or recent graduate can feel daunting, especially when you don't have much experience to show. While it may be tempting to try out another style of resume, the reverse-chronological resume format can actually be adapted to the needs of students with little effort.

If you don't have any traditional employment to show, simply rename the section “Experience.” This allows you to include any volunteer positions, hobbies, side jobs, internships, or school activities that can serve as your work history for the time being. You may also wish to move the Education section above the Experience section, as it's likely to be more relevant to your current aspirations. 

The rest of the rules of the chronological resume apply, including listing your positions from most recent to oldest and making bold section headings. Here's an example:


Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America

May 2022- present, Richmond

  • Awarded the highest honor for scouts after passing a lengthy review process

  • Planned and completed the final project involving new traffic patterns at deadly intersections

  • Reviewed accident records and worked with city officials to develop a crosswalk plan

  • Worked to educate the local community on safe pedestrian practices

Treasurer, National Math Honor Society, Arcs High School

September 2021 - May 2022, Richmond

  • Managed bookkeeping and revenue for the high school chapter of a national organization

  • Tracked payments and expenses and created reports for the Club Supervisor

  • Worked to eliminate unnecessary spending, resulting in 20% additional profit for the club

  • Organized four fundraisers that brought in $10,000 over the course of a year

Petsitter, Private client

June 2020 - present, Richmond area

  • Supervised and took care of three dogs for a neighbor during a two-week vacation

  • Took dogs on walks twice a day and fed them according to owner's instructions

  • Reported issues and behavior changes to the owner and adapted accordingly

Land your dream job

With these tips, templates, and adaptable examples, you're on your way to creating a great chronological resume, wowing the socks off a hiring manager, and landing your dream job.

Find more resume writing advice in our related articles below, or upload your resume for a free resume review from our experts!

This article was originally written by Anna Muckerman and has been updated by Marsha Hebert.

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