How to Create a Chronological Resume that Gets Results

Tools and plans for creating a chronological resume that gets results


The first 30 seconds are crucial when trying to convince a potential employer to read your resume. So your resume needs to be clear, concise, and well formatted. It should summarize your skill sets, accomplishments, work experience and credentials.


Top Tips and Tricks

  1. Have complete contact info. You want hiring managers to contact you instantly. Provide your full name, cell phone, primary and secondary email addresses, etc.
  2. Check for errors. Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors are killers.
  3. Use clear and consistent formatting.
    • This is the very first thing a reader sees and it forms their first thing impression of who you are.
    • Space your sentences and indent your paragraphs so the reader can skim information and find the important points easily.
  4. Vocabulary and grammar
    • Use the vocabulary that is suited to the position, industry, and company.
    • Use short sentences.
      • Short sentences are clearer, more positive, and powerful.
      • Use the active voice (the cat ate the mouse) and avoid the passive voice (the mouse was eaten by the cat). The active voice makes the sentences shorter.
  5. Include your accomplishments and achievements for each job.
  6. If you are multilingual, be sure to list all those in which you are fluent.
  7. List your social media involvement
    • List a blog - yours or others, to which you have contributed, especially if the blog and blog posts demonstrate a relevant skill set, an interest in, or discussion of, a subject related to the position sought. In any or all cases, your reasoning and communications abilities are on display; more so, if your posts have provoked comments
    • List your Twitter Id if you feel your tweets add value to your resume presentation

Resume versus Curriculum Vitae

The format of a resume and Curriculum Vitae (CV) are quite different.

  • In North America
    • a CV is used when applying for academic, educational, scientific-research positions, fellowships and grants. It includes a summary of your educational and academic backgrounds as well as teaching and research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honours, affiliations and other details.
    • A resume is used for professional positions outside academia. While information on education is required, it only needs to be the name of the educational institute and the degree obtained, most advanced degree first. Work experience and accomplishments are more important because it implies that you have the skill set that they need.
  • Outside of North America
    • CVs are used for both academic and professionals positions and the resume format is not used.

Hiring process

The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. The first interview is a screening one, often done on the phone. If you pass that, you are usually called in for a series of interviews with different managers. They then decide amongst the various candidate for the job.

In the era of technology and new, emerging forms of work, a general resume for all positions will be ineffective; you must customize it to the position sought. (The only time you would want to use a general resume is when you are posting it on a job site.)

Many of the large companies use scanning software. It focuses on certain words and phrases, skill sets and experience. To increase your chances, you may wish to add keywords associated with the position or industry.

Chronological Resume Structure

Employers typically prefer this type of resume because it's easy to see what jobs you have held and when you have worked at them. Chronological resumes are best suited for those who have stayed in the same field and have a strong, solid work history or entry-level job-seekers.

When formatting your resume, you should use:

  • Bullet points for unordered lists.
  • Numbered points for lists of things that come in order.
  • A font based on the media your resume uses.
    • Use sans-serif fonts (Arial, Tahoma, Verdana) on-screen reading.
    • Use Times New Roman for paper-based communications.
    • Use a font size of 10-12 points.
    • Use high quality paper if you are mailing your resume.

The structure of your resume should be:

  1. Start with your full name and complete contact information
  2. List your skill set. It should be relevant to the position being advertised.
  3. List our major accomplishment and achievements. That is, the value you delivered to your previous employers. This is not a list of the positions you held. That comes next.
  4. List your work history, with the most recent position listed first.
  5. List your social media involvement. Do you have a blog, LinkedIn profile, a Facebook page, etc.
  6. Education
  7. Multilingual skills. List all the languages in which you are fluent. If you only speak one language, omit this section.
  8. List outside interests, if they bear some relevancy to your job. Again, accomplishments are important. For example, leadership role in volunteer organizations that increased the number of people served, or member of winning sports team.

Review Criteria

A resume that gets results will have:

  • Simple formatting
  • Impact on audience
  • If specified, make the objective of the resume clear
  • Highlighted relevant skills and experience
  • Appropriate vocabulary
  • Accomplishments listed and described
  • Concise and to the point
  • All major sections covered
  • Use of active verbs
  • Spelling and grammar
  • Effective use of social networking (score 5 if not applicable and add comment)
  • Scannable


Large, well-known companies may get hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes a month. They use resume-scanning software to go through all these submissions. There are two main things to keep in mind about making your resume scannable:

  • The format of a resume should be simple, clear and somewhat standardized. Avoid things such as fancy fonts, italics, underlining, embedded graphics, and most things that are not textual in nature.
  • Scanning software looks for keywords in your resume. These keywords take 2 forms:
    • General category keywords such as chemist/chemistry, programmer/programming, sales/account executive, video/movie producer, etc.
    • Specific keywords such as bioluminescence , C++/Java, medical devices, documentary, etc.

These keywords should be used in context so the resume reads as a coherent document. Typically, there should be one or more specific keywords for each general keyword. Use of general and specific keywords back each other up and make you more real.

Historically, there used to be a section called "Keywords". It is no longer needed and only clutters up your resume. This section is often ignored since it is too easy to "pack" irrelevant words into this section.

Legal issues

In North America, the resume should not mention age, race, gender, disabilities, family status, or anything else not relevant to your fulfilling the employer's needs. For example, your date of birth, or the date of your graduation need not be given. For this reason also, you may choose not to include a photo or video. In some cases, you may need to mention one of these attributes. For example, applying for the government's small business loans to minorities may require that you mention your race to qualify.