DerrJones Recruiting Solutions

Chronological Resume:
The Preferred Resume Layout

Chronological Resume

What makes a chronological resume such a good idea?

You've probably heard lots of advice from various career advisors about how to camouflage the problems in your employment background. They'll tell you that a functional resume can hide a multitude of sins.

Don't believe them.

A good interviewer will see through this thin veil and uncover what you're trying to hide.

On the other hand, if you have a good employment track record, the chronological resume is the perfect choice, even if you are a "seasoned" professional. Here's why.

The Perfect Resume Format

The hiring manager wants to know where you've worked, what your career progression has been (titles and responsibilities), what you've accomplished and what your academic background is. A chronological resume format is the easiest way to gather this information, in the shortest amount of time.

Chronological Resume Format

I know that I'm a broken record on this point, but your resume is used to screen you out of job opportunities, not in. And, you'll be out of the running in a short 15-20 seconds if the person reviewing your resume doesn't find a compelling reason to put you into the "yes" pile.

Cruel and unusual, given the time and effort you took in putting your chronological resume together? Probably. But, the reality is that your resume will only get a cursory review before a decision is made on whether you fit the requirements of a particular job opening.

The question for you to consider is: Do you want to make it easy for someone to see where you've been and what you've done, or do you want them to dig for the information? Keep in mind that the harder you make it for the hiring manager or recruiter, the more likely you'll end up in the "no" pile.

How a Resume is Screened

As a busy recruiter, I'll never look at a resume that's more than 2 pages. No one is that important. And, I won't read your well crafted cover letter. Instead, I'm going to scan your document for:

  • Keywords that are relevant to my search
  • Target companies - have you worked for any of the companies I want to recruit from
  • Size of companies you've worked for
  • Target industry - are you working in the industry we want to pull from
  • Your current level - is the opportunity at hand a good move for you

If these things all check out, you're going to make it into the pile for further review.

Your chronological resume will allow me to find out what I need to know in that scant 15-20 second review I'm going to give you.

Chronological Resume Guidelines

Put your resume together using these quick tips, and you'll have a better chance at landing an interview.

Start with a Summary Statement. This is a short narrative, like an elevator speech, about your background. Highlight what you're good at. This section of your resume is critical, so if you're unsure about what to do, check out our section on Resume Objectives.
List your employers in reverse chronological order. Your most current employment experience should be listed first.
Add some detail about the companies you've worked for. A short statement about what they do, along with the size of the organization in terms of revenue and employees, is a good idea.
For each position you've held, list a few accomplishments. Your resume should not read like a job description. Showcase your achievements.
Outline your academic background, with the highest degree you've achieved listed first.
Close your resume with a list of professional affiliations.

If you have several years of experience, you can summarize your Early Career in one section, listing company names, titles, and dates.

DerrJones has more detailed information on creating a chronological resume in the following sections. If you're serious about putting together a resume that will get you in the door, spend some time reading through the "how to" information we provide here:

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