Reverse chronological resume format: When to use it?




A reverse chronological resume format is the most common in the world. Recruiters and employers also prefer it, as this format allows them to grasp the candidate's career history, achievements, and job tenures in seconds.

In this article, you will learn when to use a chronological resume and when to opt for other formats. Plus, we will share professional secrets to writing reverse chronological resumes that capture attention and stand out in a crowded job market.

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What is a chronological resume?

A reverse chronological resume presents your career starting with the most recent position and goes backward. Your degrees, internships, and projects are listed in the same way. It puts your career progression into the spotlight, emphasizing company names, titles, and tenures.

Thus, this resume format gives your most recent jobs the maximum exposure and minimizes the roles you had 10 or 15 years ago. Since employers are mostly interested in your recent experience, a chronological resume is the best format for a variety of career levels and industries.

What are the advantages of a reverse chronological format?

The chronological resume became the most common resume format for a reason. Here are the benefits of formatting your resume in reverse chronological order:

Emphasize relevant experience

In the chronological resume, your recent experience is placed near the top of the documents. Thus, recruiters can quickly scan through job titles, responsibilities, and achievements to ensure that you are a great candidate for the job.

Highlight career growth

For mid-career professionals and managers, a chronological resume helps emphasize steady career growth. Thus, the hiring managers can observe your growth in responsibility and job titles. They will see how your skills and job duties increased over time, thus helping create a great professional image.

Spotlight the longevity

Most employers prefer candidates who stay with the same employer for years. It shows your commitment and stability. A chronological resume exposes employment dates, thus emphasizing your longevity in previous jobs.

Meet employers' expectations

Hiring managers prefer receiving chronological resumes, as they are easy to scan through and transparent about your sequence of jobs. It helps them quickly evaluate if your previous job title and responsibilities make you a good fit. Plus, chronological resumes show that you don't hide employment gaps or other issues.

When to use a reverse chronological resume?

A chronological resume will bring you closer to the dream job in the following situations:

  • You have a consistent work history in the same field. If you've worked in the finance sector for 7+ years, a chronological resume is your best bet. It will show the employer that you have a breadth of relevant expertise in your industry.
  • You are a recent graduate with relevant internships and jobs. As a student or recent graduate, you can place the Education section above the experience and list your degrees and academic achievements in reverse chronological order.
  • You can showcase career development. Professionals who went through the ranks will surely benefit from this format. The hiring manager will see your professional development and the progress in responsibilities.
  • You have no large employment gaps. A reverse chronological resume includes dates of employment in the month/year format. Thus, if you have gaps in employment, they will be visible at a glance.
  • You've had big company names in your career path. If you've worked for reputable companies in your industry, a chronological resume template will underline that. As a result, you'll have a higher chance of getting your job application noticed.

Thinking that the chronological resume is the best resume format for you? Keep reading to find out what exactly to include on your resume.

What to include in your reverse chronological resume?

Typically, the structure of a reverse chronological resume looks like this:

  • Your name and contact info
  • Target job title
  • Professional summary
  • Professional experience
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Additional sections, such as hobbies, certifications, publications, and more.

Now, let's have a closer look at what to include in each section.

Contact details

Right under your name, include your personal phone number, email, and physical address. No need to link to social networks, unless they are your professional pages. Attach the link to your LinkedIn account if it is completed and you use it actively. Link to your professional blog and website, if any.

Use a professional email address that has your first and last names. Fun email addresses confuse employers and make an unprofessional impression.

Job title

Experts recommend that you add a target job title at the top of the resume. It makes it clear what position you're after and eases the selection for hiring managers, especially if there are multiple open positions with the company.

Resume summary section

The Summary section is not a must-have for a chronological resume. However, first-time job-seekers and professionals with uneven career histories will benefit from it. This section should briefly summarize your areas of expertise and professional achievements in 2-3 sentences. Mention how many years of experience you have, what you consider your biggest strengths, and what you achieved in your career so far. This section is the sort of elevator pitch - it is aimed to catch attention and encourage to read your resume.

Professional experience

Here, you list each position you had. Include the company name, job title, start-end dates, and a brief job description. Start with the most recent job and work backward. Keep each job description to 5-7 bullets, and focus on the most relevant achievements and duties. If possible, illustrate your achievements with metrics to show the difference you've made.

If you have significant career gaps, fill them with part-time jobs, freelance projects, and other activities. If you've moved through the ranks with the same employer, group them under the company name to illustrate this progression.


In this section, you should showcase your educational background. List degrees starting with the most recent one. If you are a student or recent graduate, you can move the Education section to the top of the resume and list academic achievements, relevant coursework, awards, and even a thesis. In addition to a formal degree, you can list certifications, training, workshops and other educational activities here.

Professionals who graduated a long time ago can move the Education section to the bottom and remove the graduation date.


List key skills relevant to your target role. Make sure that you add hard skills (software proficiency, specific tools and technical skills) and soft skills (skills like communication, customer service, and conflict resolution that are not confined to a specific industry). You can create a list of relevant skills and format them in bullet points for better readability.

Reverse chronological resume template

Here is a chronological resume example to help structure your own:


An ideal chronological resume should be one page long. Image: JobHero

Why is this a good resume? This resume starts with a Career Summary that explains what types of acting projects this actor contributed to. It features a concise work history that lists jobs starting with the present one and going backward. Job descriptions are focused and short. Next, the candidate lists acting skills and relevant qualifications. When adding skills to your resume, make sure they match the job description to pass applicant tracking systems smoothly. You can find more chronological resume samples on the Samples page.

Exploring the alternative resume formats

Although chronological format is the most popular, other formats might be more effective for different career situations:

  • A functional resume format focuses on your skills and education. It features the Summary section and a detailed Skills section that expands on your professional competencies, but does not specify where exactly you learned those skills. Work experience is listed briefly - often just the company names and job titles. Functional resumes are effective for people changing careers, but some employers don't like them as they assume that the candidate is hiding something.
  • A combination resume (or hybrid resume) format includes both a detailed summary and skills, and your professional history. It is super informative, but you need to avoid repeating information in different sections. A functional or combination resume are great if you have employment gaps, are returning to work after a long break, or changing industries.

So, is the reverse chronological resume format right for you? If you have a steady work history, didn't change industries, or want to emphasize your career development, a chronological resume is your best option. Plus, employers prefer this format so they will not suspect that you are hiding some facts about your career.

Let our experts craft the perfect chronological resume for you

The most popular resume format is chronological, and such a resume is easy to compose. Yet, it can be a real challenge to recollect your achievements, decide what to include, and transform your work history into a consistent story. That's when our experts step in. Our resume writers can improve your old chronological resume or write a new one. We will capitalize on both your skills and achievements, craft a resume objective or summary, and use a custom design that draws attention. Try our services today and ease your job search!

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