Lori Freitas Houghton

Lori Freitas Houghton

Editor

Emily Carlson Goenner

Experienced Recruiter & HR Partner

Updated : 10/14/2020

This format is the most preferred of most hiring managers but is this the right format for yours? Let’s find out!

Table Of Contents

1. Quick Takes On The Chronological Resume

It’s the most preferred resume format of most hiring managers.
It focuses on your work history, with less emphasis on skills.
It’s in reverse chronological order with your most recent work experience first.
Lots of experience? Don’t include every position; focus on the last decade.

2. The Chronological Resume Example You Need

The chronological resume is most likely the one you should use.

It’s the most common and most preferred resume format.

Also called a reverse chronological resume, it takes potential employers through your work history, position by position.

“This format is excellent
for highlighting a strong
work history with clear
growth and development.”

“By starting with the candidate’s most recent job and working backward, the hiring manager can easily see how the candidate’s skills and responsibilities have developed over time,” says Emily Goenner, Asst. Professor of Business Communications at St Cloud State University. “This format is excellent for highlighting a strong work history with clear growth and development.”

Most hiring managers prefer this resume style. Even their AI assistants prefer this resume format: applicant tracking systems can process information in chronological resumes more effectively.

3. Using Chronological Resume Samples

Every chronological resume is not created equal.

There are several aspects of a chronological resume that may vary depending on your industry or your situation.That’s why using chronological resume samples is helpful.

Still, despite the individual differences, remember these keys for an effective resume:

✓ Chronological Resume Format Key Points
✓ Your resume must be accurate and truthful.

Remember, though, that its purpose is a self-marketing tool. Emphasize your strongest, most marketable experience, achievements, and skills.

✓ Your resume must be accurate and truthful.

Learn to edit out what isn’t as relevant or interesting to a potential employer. You’re aiming for a collection of the most important highlights for why someone should hire you.

✓ If possible, customize your resume for a specific company.

Include keywords emphasized in the job posting and do quick research on the company’s values. “The more you can ‘fit’ the company’s culture and needs, the more successful you will be,” says Goenner. Use an industry-specific chronological resume example as a guideline.

✓ Clearly articulate your most impressive accomplishments for each position.

Don’t simply describe your job duties. Instead, focus on evidence that you’ve been effective in your roles. If you can quantify that evidence, that’s even better.

✓ Remember that most resumes are viewed rapidly, in a batch.

Spend the time to make your resume attractive, readable, and free from errors. You want to make it so appealing, organized, and simple to comprehend that yours becomes prioritized among the many other resumes.

4. Chronological Resume Samples and Tips by Industry

Retail Chronological Resumes

Retail is a highly numbers-focused industry and your resume should reflect that reality.

Quantify how you (or your team) grew revenues, turned over inventory, improved your conversion rate, raised customer retention, and/or increased profits.

If it’s significant, give your potential employer a sense of the number of SKUs you managed, the average transaction value, the volume of traffic (foot or digital), and/or the size of your accounts.

Healthcare and Medical Chronological Resumes

For most workers in the healthcare and medical fields, certifications, licenses, and/or education are vital. Signify some of those credentials (or their acronyms) at the top of your resume and include a summary section at the end.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out

Describe the scope and levels of responsibility you’ve had. What types of procedures have you experienced and in what settings? What are your specializations?

On the operations and administrative side of this field, how did you increase compliance, cut costs, improve profitability, and/or reduce wait times? View an example here.

Education Chronological Resumes

The Education field attracts individuals who place a high value on learning, social purpose, and improving others’ futures. Therefore, potential employers in this field are often most impressed by accomplishments which reflect those goals.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out

Outside of sales or operations, achievements in the Education industry tend to connect to impacts like improved learning outcomes, strong assessment data, and/or increased retention/completion rates. Include any awards or recognitions you’ve received. Your Education section could include more details than other industries. View an example here.

Restaurant and Food Service Chronological Resumes

Restaurant and Food Service resumes are usually uncomplicated. This is not an industry that attaches a lot of fuss to resumes, so keep your resume clean and straightforward. Be sure to include any certification details, like a culinary degree or a food handler’s permit. View an example here.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out

Brands have specific reputations, so the brands you’ve worked for may be interesting to a potential employer —whether they have a positive or negative reputation.

Don’t forget to include any awards you’ve received for customer service and you might include brief excerpts of positive reviews of your food or establishment.

Computers and Technology Chronological Resumes

The tech field is a field built on preciseness and innovation. For many industries, a strong resume would follow the rule of “less is more.” But technology people tend to love details and so there is a much higher tolerance for dense resumes.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out

Highlight the innovations you’ve developed, perhaps listing any patents if you have any. Resumes in this industry should definitely include a Skills section, packed with your many known technologies (software applications, operating systems, platforms, devices, programming languages, etc.). View an example here.

Engineering Chronological Resumes

There’s an old joke: Ask an engineer the time and he’ll (or she’ll) tell you how the clock works.

The Engineering field has a high tolerance for details and so, unsurprisingly, Engineering hiring managers may gravitate toward resumes with strong specifics. Engineering resumes can and should articulate some details about specific projects, technologies, and components. View an example here.

Sales Chronological Resumes

Similar to the Retail industry, a Sales resume is all about the numbers.

This is a field where most hiring managers are interested in how you’ve grown, increased, expanded, and/or improved your sales and revenues. They’re interested in customer retention rates and, if you’ve managed, the size of your teams. View an example here.

Hotel and Hospitality Chronological Resumes

Like the Restaurant and Food Services industry, Hotel and Hospitality resumes are usually uncomplicated.

Brands are impactful (e.g. working for a well-respected brand) and evidence of your results is important. Education and tech skill requirements often aren’t as critical as for some other fields, though they may still be required.View an example here.

Marketing Chronological Resumes

Marketing involves telling compelling stories in an appealing way and that is good advice for a Marketing resume. Tell your story in a compelling way. Highlight achievements.

And keep your target market in mind: customize your product (in this case, your resume) to your different segmentations (in this case, types of potential employers). View an example here.

Emergency Services Chronological Resumes

Emergency Services employers are often government entities or healthcare companies.

Sometimes they want specific information on a resume or job application that is highly detailed (such as a complete work history since you finished your education). Similar to the Healthcare industry, certifications are vitally important and should be included on your resume. View an example here.

Accounting and Finance Chronological Resumes

Accounting and Finance resumes should reflect your attention-to-detail and be quantifiable and data-driven where possible. Compare with—or work from—chronological resume samples to keep your resume formatting perfect for this industry.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out

Compliance and ethics are also two areas you should emphasize. Be sure to include a section which lists your technological skills. View an example here.

Law Chronological Resumes

Law resumes tend to be tightly-focused on the field, including only relevant work experience.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out

Projects, pro bono work, publications, and research that is relevant should all be included, giving greater emphasis to the more impressive pieces. A skills section could be useful and focused on more than technical skills, but also language skills, etc. View an example here.

Management Chronological Resumes

Management resumes should include details around managing people. Be sure to include the size of the teams you’ve managed and the composition of the team members (what functional areas they represent).

Cite instances where you trained, developed, and mentored individuals. Some of your achievements might include transforming a low-performing team into a high-performing team, building a talent pipeline, or developing leaders who are promoted. View an example here.

Business Chronological Resumes

Business resumes follow the most typical “rules” of resumes. A chronological resume example, or template, can help you stay well within the lines for a business resume.

Emphasize achievements, quantify where possible, and emphasize your most relevant and impressive accomplishments. Leave plenty of white space and be concise, which is highly valued in a business environment. View an example here.

About the Author

Lori Freitas Houghton

Lori Freitas Houghton

Editor

In her 15+ years in human resources, Lori Freitas Houghton has worked on both sides of the hiring equation. She’s experienced as a recruiter and partner with hiring managers. She is also a proven career coach with a high success rate at helping job candidates create breakthrough resumes that gain them interviews. With a BA in English and a Master of Organizational Behavior (MBA) degree, Lori also has considerable experience writing and editing HR content.

Emily Carlson Goenner

Experienced Recruiter & HR Partner

Emily Carlson Goenner is an Assistant Professor of Business Communications at St Cloud State University in Minnesota. She has more than two decades of experience teaching individuals to develop the communication skills needed to succeed in their chosen career fields. A voracious reader, she is passionate about human stories and connections.

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