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What is reverse chronological order on a resume?

CareerBuilder | June 24, 2022

Reverse Chronological Resume

Work history sections can list past jobs from oldest to newest, but you can also do the opposite. Learn when to use reverse chronological order on a resume.

Your resume work history will have every job and job-like activity you've done, while a CV will cover both your work and academic histories. Reverse chronological order means listing things from newest to oldest. Barring a few exceptions, listing your jobs or other relevant positions in reverse chronological order is more convenient for a hiring manager.

Your most recent areas of employment will have the most up-to-date references and are the closest examples of your skill set. The same applies to CV academic history; going from newest to oldest usually helps display your best qualities. Let's quickly cover the benefits of reverse-chronological-order resumes and how to create a reverse-chronological history.

Why is a reverse chronological order resume better?

Recent work history is often considered more important and indicative of your potential to do a job. For academic histories, the same logic applies: Your most recent academic or work position is going to be the most relevant.

When you upload a resume or CV to CareerBuilder, you can easily show it to hiring managers for any position that interests you. If you want to make the most of that visibility, you'll see the best results by making reverse chronological order your default resume format.

When is a reverse chronological order resume not better?

Unless the recipient asked for a different order, reverse chronological is the most expected format. One common concern when designing a resume is having gaps in your work history, especially a recent gap. However, it still might be best to put your most recent work front and center. The person looking at your resume cares about what duties you can perform in the present and future. Newer positions are a closer indication of what you can do.

Other types of resume and CV histories include:

  • Chronological: Arranging your work or academic positions from oldest to newest might be worthwhile if you have very relevant skills or accomplishments from your first job.
  • Functional: This type of resume or CV focuses on skills and accomplishments more than work history. Fresh candidates looking for their first job sometimes use the functional style.
  • Combination: This resume combines functional and normal or reverse chronological order. How they're combined depends on you.

When in doubt, you can't go wrong with reverse chronological order. That said, there's no one-size-fits-all resume style. You'll get the most out of your submissions by tailoring your resume to the job in question.

How to make a reverse chronological resume

A resume should be about one or two pages in total, and the parts of a reverse chronological resume are:

  • Header: This has your name and basic contact information.
  • Summary: Similar to a resume objective, the summary is one to two sentences or several short bullet points before the work experience section. The summary introduces you and your most relevant skills. Most recruiters today consider summaries optional, but it's justifiable for professionals with a lot of experience who want to highlight certain points.
  • Work history: To make this part reverse chronological, arrange each relevant job from newest to oldest.
  • Education: This is similar to the previous section, only listing places you studied. The institutions are usually also listed reverse chronologically.
  • Skills: Include a list of all of your relevant hard and soft skills. They can be organized into categories or simply listed.

If the job posting noted other required sections or changes, you'll want to add those as well. With these points filled out properly, you're on the way to an effective reverse chronological resume.

How to create a resume work history

When you describe work positions on your resume or CV, they should contain:

  • The title of your job
  • The employer or organization
  • Where you worked
  • The starting and ending date

You can save time by creating a document and copying the points above once for each job you've had. Then, all it takes is for you to fill in data as you remember it. If you take your time gathering information and building out each entry, you'll have everything you need. Then, to make it reverse chronological, simply order the positions from newest to oldest.

How to make a reverse chronological CV

When applying for jobs or educational opportunities, you may need to submit a curriculum vitae or CV. This document is similar to a resume and shows your qualifications as a candidate or job applicant. The main difference is that a CV emphasizes education and achievements over work experience. Overall, the reverse-chronological format is a good standard to follow.

Creating a CV of any type is very similar to creating a resume. The parts of a reverse chronological CV are:

  • Header: At the top of a resume, the CV's header contains your name and basic contact info.
  • Summary: This is more or less the same as a resume summary. It's considered optional unless requested by the hiring manager.
  • Work experience: You'll want to arrange each relevant job from newest to oldest to make it reverse chronological.
  • Education: Compared to a resume, a CV education section can have more detail. It can go into sororities or fraternities, extracurricular activities, academic awards, relevant courses, and anything impressive or commendable from your academic life. The traditional format is reverse chronological order.
  • Skills: Just like on a resume, this section will list your most valuable hard and soft skills. Around 10 is a good average number of skills to feature on an entry- or mid-level resume.

It's not uncommon to add other sections to a CV after skills, such as speaking engagements and books published. Some hiring managers may ask for specific bonus sections. For instance, a laboratory researcher might insert a research history section, sorting projects from newest to oldest and describing their importance. Which extra sections to add will depend on your career path. The good news is that your CV can be longer than a resume. Two or three pages is normal.

How to create a CV education history

A CV's education section is relatively similar to one found on a resume. Each place of study will require the following details:

  • The degree you earned, the field of study, and the date you earned it
  • The educational institution's name
  • The institution's location

You can include additional details in further bullet points. You might include awards, honors, extracurricular activities, academic content like dissertations, or other notable accomplishments during your studies. When you finish, arrange the institutions from newest to oldest, and you just made a reverse chronological CV education history.

When you describe your work or academic history, the most important part is usually your most recent place. If your last position is the most impressive, it's only natural to feature it first on your resume. Reverse chronological order is a dependable format for CV work and education histories, too.


More tips for designing a resume and getting jobs:

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Disarm tougher questions by learning how to talk about your weaknesses in an interview.

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