Everything you need to know about writing the most common and most effective 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 chronological resume is also the format that hiring managers and automated resume scanners 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 write a great chronological resume and look at a few guiding examples.

What is a chronological resume?

The chronological resume is a format that focuses on the employment history section where work experience is listed starting with the most recent or current position and working backward through all relevant experience of the past ten years. This structure is sometimes called the “reverse chronological resume.”

The chronological resume can be considered the standard resume format because it suits the widest range of professionals. For sectors like healthcare, IT, law, HR, business, education, and more, the chronological resume format is largely the only logical choice since advancement happens through new jobs, promotions, and climbing the career ladder.

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 the functional or hybrid models may be more suitable. Whenever possible, first-time job seekers should aim to create a chronological resume, but may have to resort to an alternative if they lack experience to show. Further down, we'll explore how chronological resumes can be adapted for students.

How to write a chronological resume

A chronological resume will contain most of the sections found on other types of resumes including:

  • A header

  • A summary or personal statement

  • Work experience or employment history

  • Education

  • Skills

  • Additional sections like awards, hobbies, or languages

What makes a chronological resume unique is the emphasis on employment history, so let's take a closer look at how to write this section. First, you'll want to create subheadings with the essential information which is usually considered to be:

  • Job title

  • Employer name

  • Location

  • Dates worked

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

  • Duties and responsibilities

  • Skills

  • 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 backwards as this is a fundamental component of the reverse chronological resume structure.

How to format a chronological resume

The format of your chronological resume is almost as important as the writing because a clean and organized format is one of the best ways to show that you are a professional and motivated candidate. Make sure to use bold or italics to highlight the key information within your employment history section. The bullet points can be written in a smaller font size to give you more room to expand on your achievements. Choose formats or templates that allow you to create longer lines of text so that you don't need to use a second line for the same bullet point.

Examples of chronological resumes

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

Customer service representative, AT&T

August 2020-present, Fort Worth, TX

  • 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.

  • Handled 200+ calls on a day to day basis with a sense of calm.

  • Developed successful tactics to sell products and services to customers.

  • Piloted feedback program that resulted in 15 percent increase in branch sales. 

Here's an option for a server:

Lead server, Rooster Bar & Grill

June 2018-August 2022, Boston

  • Managed staff of 15 as lead server at elegant, downtown restaurant.

  • Promoted 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.

And check out this example for a sales associate:

Associate, PetShop

September 2021-present, Durham, NC

  • Maintained a clean shop environment and neat product displays.

  • Recognized 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 when needed.

  • 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

Hardworking and reliable [job title] with [number of years] of experience in [industry or area of expertise]. Passionate about [objective] and [goals] through [top skills and strategies]. Ready to take on new challenges in the [job title name] position at [potential employer]. A proven track-record of leveraging [top skill] to bring measurable improvements in [employer's primary objective.]

Employment history

Job title, employer name

Dates worked, location

  • Main duties and responsibilities

  • A key skill demonstrated

  • Measurable achievement #1

  • Measurable achievement #2

Job title, employer name

Dates worked, location

  • Main duties and responsibilities

  • A key skill demonstrated

  • Measurable achievement #1

  • Measurable achievement #2

Job title, employer name

Dates worked, 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


  • Technical skill

  • Technical skill

  • Technical skill

  • Soft skill

  • Soft skill

  • Soft skill

How to adapt the chronological resume for students

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 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.

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


Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America

May 2022-present, Richmond

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

  • Planned and completed final project involving new traffic pattern at deadly intersection.

  • Reviewed accident record and worked with city officials to develop crosswalk plan.

  • Worked to educate local community on safe pedestrian practices.

Treasurer, National Math Honor Society

September 2021-May 2022, Arcs High School, Richmond

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

  • Tracked payments and expenses and created reports for club supervisor.

  • Worked to eliminate unnecessary spending resulting in 20 percent more profit for 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 instructions.

  • Reported any issues or behavior changes to owner and adapted accordingly.

With these tips, templates, and adaptable examples, you're on your way to creating a great chronological resume and landing that new job.

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

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