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A New Twist On An Old Friend – The Chronological Résumé
by Heather Eagar

What is a chronological résumé? A chronological résumé is a résumé in which you list your past jobs and educational qualifications in reverse chronological order, beginning from the latest or the present one first. This is the traditional and most well known résumé format.

Why Use A Chronological Résumé?

A chronological résumé is especially effective for mid-career professionals and new grads that have limited work experience. It allows the employer to see all of your qualifications including education upfront. Your résumé shouldn’t read like a Ph.D. Dissertation – it should get straight to the point, and the chronological résumé does this and more:

1. It explicitly demonstrates your career progression. It easily illustrates the solidity of your career.

2. The simple, traditional format makes it easier for employers to skim through quickly and to determine your qualifications. The fact is that most employers are expecting a chronological résumé.

3. A chronological résumé is a straightforward summary of your professional history. It is neat and simple. An employer usually takes only about 10 minutes to review your résumé, and executive recruiters take even less time. Do you want them to do more work than they have to? They won’t, because they don’t have the time!

4. There are no ambiguities about your qualifications whatsoever as everything the interviewer wants to know is open and apparent. This is what you want - because they less questions they have about your résumé, the less questions you’ll have to answer in the interview!

Downsides To A Chronological Résumé

Of course, like everything in life, the chronological résumé has a few downsides. Since you are probably reading this to assess the pros and cons of this résumé style, you may as well go in knowing these possible pitfalls:

1. The chronological format does not positively accommodate gaps in employment; in fact, when used, it could expose them quite easily. Additionally, a chronological résumé does not suit those candidates who have changed careers often. If this describes you, then you may want to consider this résumé style carefully before using it.

2. Cross-discipline skills may not be highlighted to their full potential; some employers are looking for continuity, and if you have changed careers in short periods of time, then using a chronological résumé will highlight this fact instead of the valuable skills you can bring to the table.

3. If you have a short work history, a chronological résumé will only highlight your lack of experience. For most employers, this is an immediate red flag and enough to make them file your résumé under “C” for circular file. I hope you know what that means!

When to Use the Chronological Résumé

Students and new grads applying for internships invariably have to use this style as they have a limited work history – they don’t have much choice. But, sometimes seasoned professionals use this format when applying for jobs that involve routine tasks.

Here is another example of when one can use this style: An accountant who is applying for her next job after several years of routine experience will have not much to show in terms of professional gains, but she can show job continuity. For such candidates who need to show continuity when changing jobs, the chronological résumé works very well.

The Chronological Style Is Effective Across All Sectors

One of the reasons why chronological résumés are so popular is that they can be used effectively across all sectors. This includes the public and private sectors, as well as the Federal and State government sectors.

Although no one will actually say it, many employers are inherently expecting a chronological style résumé, and may be psychologically thrown off or “distracted” by any other résumé type. The employer may not be aware of this, or may not even know why they don’t like a particular résumé, but 9 times out of 10, this is the reason. It may not be fair, but that’s the way it is!

Reduce The Risk

Let’s face it…deciding to leave your current job and look for another one is a risk. You may not look at it that way, but it is. Any time you decide to do/use/implement something out of the ordinary, you are taking a risk, and this includes your résumé format. There are only so many factors that you can control when searching for a job, and one of them is the type of résumé that you send out. By using a chronological résumé, you can take control of your destiny, immediately reduce your risk and increase your chances of landing a job that you’ll love!

Heather Eagar is a former professional résumé writer who is now dedicated to providing job seekers with resources and products that promote job search success from beginning to end. If you need résumé examples and tools, go to

Heather Eagar may be contacted at

Are you guilty of sabotaging your own job search along with the opportunity to earn more money? Heather Eagar, a former professional résumé writer and creator of, provides reviews of the top résumé; writing services that puts you in charge of your career so you can get the job you deserve. Sign-up for your free Job Search Tips E-Course.


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