A New Twist On An Old Friend – The Chronological Resume

Posted August 17, 2006 by

What is a chronological resume? A chronological resume is a resume 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 resume format.
Why Use A Chronological Resume?
A chronological resume 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 resume shouldn’t read like a Ph.D. Dissertation – it should get straight to the point, and the chronological resume 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 resume.
3. A chronological resume is a straightforward summary of your professional history. It is neat and simple. An employer usually takes only about 10 minutes to review your resume, 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 resume, the less questions you’ll have to answer in the interview!
Downsides To A Chronological Resume
Of course, like everything in life, the chronological resume has a few downsides. Since you are probably reading this to assess the pros and cons of this resume 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 resume does not suit those candidates who have changed careers often. If this describes you, then you may want to consider this resume 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 resume 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 resume will only highlight your lack of experience. For most employers, this is an immediate red flag and enough to make them file your resume under “C” for circular file. I hope you know what that means!
When to Use the Chronological Resume
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 resume works very well.
The Chronological Style Is Effective Across All Sectors
One of the reasons why chronological resumes 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 resume, and may be psychologically thrown off or “distracted” by any other resume type. The employer may not be aware of this, or may not even know why they don’t like a particular resume, 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 resume format. There are only so many factors that you can control when searching for a job, and one of them is the type of resume that you send out. By using a chronological resume, you can take control of your destiny, immediately reduce your risk and increase your chances of landing a job that you’ll love!

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