Chronological CV Template: Order of Sections & 20+ Writing Tips

To get a stab at your dream job, you need to give the hiring manager exactly what she wants. Start with her favourite CV format: a chronological layout. Elegant, classy, and, most importantly, extremely efficient.

Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW
Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Career Expert
Chronological CV Template: Order of Sections & 20+ Writing Tips

In every area of life, trends come and go. But—

 

There are those all-time classics that are never out of style. Think about the little black dress or the ‘68 Shelby Mustang.

 

That’s what a chronological CV is for the hiring industry.

 

The paradigm of job search. The go-to format for nearly every candidate.

 

Want to know what makes it so special? Not sure how to write a reverse-chronological CV?

 

In this guide:

  • The best chronological CV definition & a breakdown of its advantages.
  • An easy-to-use chronological CV template to fill in with your information.
  • Chronological CV examples that will show you how to write yours.
  • Expert hacks for writing the most effective reverse-chronological CV out there.

 

1. What Is a Chronological CV & Who Should Write One

 

Let’s cover the very basics first.

 

(Reverse) Chronological CV Definition

 

A chronological CV (or actually a reverse-chronological CV) is the most common and universal of the three standard CV styles. Its focal point is the work history section in which you outline up to 15 years of your most recent employment, listing positions in descending chronological order and outlining your key responsibilities.

 

A chronological CV template consists of the following sections, usually in the below order:

 

Chronological CV Template—Order of Sections

 

  1. CV header with contact information
  2. CV profile (summary or objective)
  3. Work experience
  4. Education
  5. Skills
  6. Additional activities

 

Here’s a reverse-chronological CV example so you can see what it looks like in practise.

 

Sample Chronological CV

 

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sample CV templates

 

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Clean, easy-to-skim, with all the crucial data presented on a silver platter.

Like what you see? Explore our collection of 99+ sample CVs for all kinds of jobs to view a CV tailored to your profession.

 

What makes the reverse-chronological CV format so good?

 

First of all, it highlights what matters most to recruiters: your work history, with a focus on your most recent employment.

 

That’s why recruiters prefer this format over the other ones. And your professional future is in their hands, so you better play by their rules.

 

Secondly, the chronological CV layout is most likely to pass an ATS test. See, nowadays most large companies (98% of Fortune 500) use algorithms and bots to scan CVs before they reach human decision-makers. 

 

Those bots look for keywords such as:

  • Job titles
  • Employment dates
  • Skills
  • Names of educational institutions

 

And a reverse-chronological CV makes all of the above prominent and easy to parse.

 

Feel like you should write a good ol’ classic chronological CV?

You’re probably right! Let’s look into what types of candidates can benefit from writing a chronological CV most.

 

Who is the reverse-chronological CV best for?

 

  • Students and entry-level job seekers.
  • Mid- to senior-level candidates.
  • People applying to corporate jobs.
  • Candidates looking for a position within the industry they currently work in.

 

In other words, virtually everyone. 

 

See, the chronological CV is such a great format mostly because it’s versatile. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a seasoned pro. What’s more— 

 

You can adjust this CV structure so that it fits your needs. I’ll explain that in detail in the following section.

Are there other CV formats I can pick?

 

The two other typical CV formats are:

  • Functional CV which focuses on skills over work history.
  • Combination CV which, as the name suggests, is a hybrid of the chronological and functional CV formats.

 

If you’d like to take a closer look at the two other options, see our dedicated guide comparing a chronological vs functional vs combination CV and make a fully-informed choice.

 

But (don’t say I didn’t warn you), you’ll most likely end up with a chronological CV format anyway. And it will be for a good reason!

 

Now, let’s walk through how you can make the most of each section of a chronological CV. Read on for tonnes of examples and actionable tips. 

 

(Plus, as a bonus, at the bottom you’ll get a ready-to-use fill-in-the-blanks rev-chron CV template you’ll be able to adjust in minutes.)

2. How to Write a Chronological CV Step by Step

 

If there’s any downside to the chronological CV setup, it’s that your CV might end up looking too similar to those by other candidates.

 

The fix?

Add a bit of extra value to each section. It’s not that hard—let me show you how.

 

1. Create a good CV header for your chronological CV

 

Include:

  • Your full name
  • Job title
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • LinkedIn
  • (Optionally) Personal website and additional social media handles

 

Pretty simple, right? 

If you need more detail, read our in-depth guide to creating a standout CV header.

 

2. Write a good CV profile: summary or objective

 

It’s that short-and-sweet paragraph at the top of your CV.

 

The purpose of a CV profile is to provide an overview of your qualifications and expertise plus present a few highlights of your career.

 

Got 2+ years’ experience in your field? Your CV profile should be a professional summary that focuses on accomplishments and shows how you’ll translate those into success in your prospective position.

 

Barely starting out on your career?Put a CV objective statement at the top of your reverse-chronological CV. Showcase skills that you’ve mastered so far and explain how well you’ll fit in.

 

Whichever one you pick, here’s a universal formula to follow:

  • Start with an adjective that describes your professional self.
  • Follow with years of experience.
  • List 2–3 relevant skills.
  • Name-drop the company you’re applying to and explain what you have to offer.
  • List a few of the most job-relevant accomplishments.

 

These examples show you how a CV profile works in practise.

 

Professional profile on a chronological CV: examples

 

The first one comes from a senior marketing specialist CV.

GOOD EXAMPLE
Self-motivated and analytically-minded senior marketing manager with 6+ years of experience. Eager to join Minas Morgul Inc. to help manage the strategy development and lead cross-functional teams. In previous roles increased website traffic by 300% and developed SEO strategy that brought in ~10K monthly users.

See that? Specific information on the candidate’s skill set and solid examples of achievements that back those skills up.

 

Now, see a sample CV profile that doesn’t quite tick all the boxes.

BAD EXAMPLE
Highly skilled, enthusiastic, energetic UI/UX designer. Have worked for two major software development firms. Top-level skills in prototyping, wireframing, Adobe Suite, Sketch, and responsive design. 

Not awful, true. 

 

But it doesn’t include anything special other than generic qualifications most candidates for that position will have.

 

3. Describe your work experience to show you’ll do the job well

 

Here comes the key component of every reverse-chronological CV template.

 

The work history section. It’s the most prominent part of the whole CV. One that makes or breaks your chances.

 

Here’s how to craft a millennium-falcon-like experience section on a chronological CV:

  • Start with your current or most recent position, then follow it with the one before it, then the previous one, and so on.
  • Limit yourself to up to 15 years of professional experience. Leave off all positions older than that.
  • In every entry, include your job title, company name, dates worked, and up to 6 bullet points detailing your duties and achievements.
  • Focus only on what’s relevant to the position you’re targeting—it’s called “tailoring” a CV to match the requirements of the job on offer.
  • Don’t dwell on what you did. Highlight how well you did it. If you have quantifiable accomplishments, show them off.
  • As you go back in time, use fewer and fewer bullet points. Your most recent professional activity is what really matters to recruiters.

Alright, let’s see a good and a bad example of presenting your work history in a reverse-chronological CV layout.

 

Work experience on a chronological CV: examples

 

Here’s a top-notch work history section sample taken from a CV of a data scientist

 

The job to which she’s applying requires skills in machine learning, data mining, and model development optimization. 

GOOD EXAMPLE

Senior Data Scientist

ACB Inc.

Los Angeles, CA

May 2013–Sep 2019

  • Developed end-to-end machine learning prototypes and scaled them to run in production environments. Increased efficiency by 23%.
  • Contributed meaningful improvements to existing machine learning models through carefully directed research.
  • Derived actionable insights from massive data sets with minimal support.
  • Provided input into the collection of new data sources and the refinement of existing ones to improve analysis and model development.

Key achievement: Applied data mining to analyse procurement processes resulting in savings of £420,000 a year.

And here’s a less-than-perfect sample from a PR specialist CV.

BAD EXAMPLE

PR Specialist with Nike Seattle, 2018 - today

Seattle, Washington

 

Responsible for:

  • samples and editorials
  • contacts with clients
  • press releases and press days
  • company events

Night and day. The good example fits the job like Spandex. Plus, it lists specific, verifiable achievements. Recruiters would have to be crazy to not call her up for an interview.

The bad example? It lacks details, is vague, and just plain boring.

 

4. Make good use of your education section

 

For most candidates, listing education on their chronological CVs is a sheer formality.

If you have over 2 years of relevant experience in your field, make your education section brief and to-the-point.

Include only:

  • Degree
  • Major (and minors, if you have them)
  • University name
  • Graduation date

 

Like in this example:

 

Education on a chronological CV: example

 

BSc in Mathematics; Minor in Italian
The City University of New York, Brooklyn, NY

2014

 

Recently graduated and don’t have a solid work history to show off yet?

Do two things—

 

First of all, make your education section the main selling point of your chronological CV. Put it above the work experience.

 

Secondly, add more details about your educational background: list relevant coursework, honours and awards, extracurricular activities, and other achievements.

 

You can learn more by reading our guide to perfecting your education section.

 

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5. Present your most job-relevant skills

 

Make a skills section that clearly stands out from the rest of your CV. List between 5 and 10 skills relevant to the position you’re targeting.

 

But—

 

Don’t just cram your chronological CV with a random set of skills. Go about it this way:

  • Start with a spreadsheet, or even just a sheet of paper if you’re a more analogue type. List all your professional skills.
  • Read the job description carefully. Identify skills-related keywords (usually, you’ll find those under “Requirements” or “Required qualifications” in the job ad). Note those keywords down.
  • Go back to your list. How many skills match? I’m sure quite a few! That’s your reverse chronological CV’s skills list.
  • Mix your “hard,” job-specific skills with a few soft skills (e.g. communication, interpersonal skills, active listening). Soft skills matter more and more to employers. Plus, numerous studies confirm soft skills have a huge impact on the results we achieve at work.

 

Master the art and science behind putting skills on a CV with our dedicated guide.

 

6. Add “extra” sections to prove your value

 

Like I said above, the only potential flaw of the chronological CV setup is that it’s just sooo common and almost formulaic.

 

Sure, you’ve already learned how to max out each standard part of your CV. Time for one extra step— 

 

Create an additional CV section and enter a few of your proudest professional “wins.”

 

Check out these ideas.

 

Additional sections for a chronological CV: examples

 

 

It’s a perfect example of show don’t tell. All of the above will make your key qualifications much more believable.

 

And voila. Follow the above steps to create a job-winning chronological CV.

 

Before you start writing your CV, though, I’ve got a bonus for you!

 

If you’re pressed for time, you feel free to use the handy template below.

 

Copy it, add your own details, and you’ll have a perfectly-structured chronological CV in minutes.

 

3. Reverse-Chronological CV Template to Copy, Tweak, and Use

 

Contact Information

 

[Your Name]

[Job Title]

[Phone Number]

[Email Address]

[LinkedIn Profile]

 

Summary

 

[Dependable/detail-oriented/creative/another adjective that describes you][Your Job Title] with [Number of Years] years of experience in [coordinating projects/inbound marketing/front-end development/another key area of your expertise] seeking to join [Target Company Name] to help boost all of your major KPIs in the upcoming months. In my [current/previous positionwith [Company Name][boosted sales/cut costs/improved processes/other relevant achievementsby 30% year-on-year.

 

Work Experience

 

[Position]

[Company]

[Dates worked]

 

  • [Achievement #1]
  • [Achievement #2]
  • [Responsibility #1]
  • [Responsibility #2]
  • [Responsibility #3]

 

[Position]

[Company]

[Dates worked]

 

  • [Achievement #1]
  • [Responsibility #1]
  • [Responsibility #2]

 

Education

 

[Degree]

[School/University Name]

[Graduation Date]

 

  • (Optional) Relevant coursework
  • (Optional) Extracurricular activities
  • (Optional) Academic achievements and awards

 

Skills

 

Technical Skills

 

  • [Skill #1]
  • [Skill #2]
  • [Skill #3]
  • [Skill #4]
  • [Skill #5]

 

Soft Skills

 

  • [Skill #1]
  • [Skill #2]
  • [Skill #3]

 

Additional Activities

 

  • Certifications
  • Awards
  • Conference participation
  • Additional training
  • Publications

 

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Key Points

 

Here’s a recap of how to write a chronological CV:

  • Include your contact information at the top.
  • Write a good CV profile: a summary or an objective.
  • List your work history in the reverse-chronological order, highlighting achievements over responsibilities.
  • List your highest degree of education.
  • Include a good list of your most relevant skills.
  • Add extra sections such as conferences, publications, certifications, or additional training.

 

Questions? Concerns? Need further help? I’m here to listen and respond. Drop me a line in the comments and I’ll get back to you double-quick!

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Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW
Michael Tomaszewski is a resume expert and a career advice writer for ResumeLab. He is a certified professional resume writer (CPRW) and a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches. Michael works with candidates across all career stages—from entry-level job seekers to executive coaches. His insights have been featured in CIO and Best Life Online. His mission is to help you tell the story behind your career and reinforce your professional brand by coaching you to create outstanding job application documents. More than one million readers read his career advice every month. For ResumeLab, Michael uses his connections to help you thrive in your career. From fellow career experts and insiders from all industries—LinkedIn strategists, communications consultants, scientists, entrepreneurs, digital nomads, or even FBI agents—to share their unique insights and help you make the most of your career. Michael has a degree in Liberal Arts and specializes in personal and professional storytelling.

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