How To Write a Reverse Chronological CV (With an Example)
Updated 13 July 2023
When you decide to apply for a new job, you need to update your CV. There are different CV formats to use, and the reverse chronological CV is one format to consider. If you're not familiar with this CV format, it lists your professional experience from the most to least recent and is best for candidates with a consistent work history. In this article, we consider what a reverse chronological CV is, learn how to write one and see an example of this CV format.
What is a reverse chronological CV?
A reverse chronological CV, also known as a chronological CV, is a CV format where you prioritise your professional experiences and accomplishments. This CV format is one of three types of CV formats, which include the following:
Chronological CV: This format is perfect for candidates who have consistent and rich professional experience.
Functional CV: This format works best for candidates who had gaps in their careers or made several career changes.
Combination CV: This format is ideal for candidates who have developed a range of skills and abilities in different types of positions. In their case, their skills may be more important than their actual work experience.
How to choose your CV format
You can consider your background and the advertised requirements of the job you want to apply for to help you decide on the best CV format. Here are steps for how to format your CV:
1. Look at the advertised requirements for the position
To determine the best CV format for a specific position, consider the requirements listed in the job advertisement. For example, if you were employed consistently, a chronological CV format may be best for you. Suppose the job you're applying for focuses more on proven skills and abilities. In that case, it may be better for you to use a combination CV format to highlight your skills and abilities to your future employer.
2. Consider your employment history
A chronological CV gives potential employers a quick view of your most relevant and most recent work experience. By highlighting your work experience, you make it easy for recruiters to assess your CV to determine if they could consider you for a specific position. You can use a chronological CV format when:
you have multiple years of experience in one particular career path
you have work experience with many employers in one industry
you have no or minimal gaps between jobs
If you recently graduated from university or finished your schooling and have minimal work experience, a functional or combination CV may be best for you. A functional CV works well when you have significant gaps in your career or have been unemployed for long periods.
If you have changed industries or positions frequently throughout your career, a combination CV may be better for you. This type of CV emphasises your transferable abilities and skills to recruiters.
Tips for writing a chronological CV
Your chronological CV needs to provide information that is relevant to the position you want to apply for. In this CV format, the sections of your CV may be in the following order:
name and contact information
objective or summary
work or employment history
skills and abilities
The primary difference between this CV format and the others is the structure of the work experience section. Using this format means first listing your most recent work experience. When you include the details of each professional experience, you can try to reference the keywords used in the job advertisement in your job descriptions.
Where you are in your career and the relevance of your educational qualifications may determine where you place your work experience and academic qualifications. For example, suppose you're writing a CV as a student. In that case, you may prioritise your educational background as it may provide helpful information to potential employers, especially if you have completed coursework, diplomas, or certifications relevant to the position. If you have several years of work experience, you may want to place your work experience before your educational qualifications to emphasise your professional experience.
What to include in a chronological CV
Here's what you can include in your chronological CV:
Name and contact information
You can start this section with your name and your contact information. You can also include your phone number and email address. Optional items are your postal address or a link to your online portfolio if this is a position requirement.
Objective or summary
You can include a summary at the beginning of your CV to provide an immediate context for employers reviewing your application. If you have many years of experience in one industry, you can highlight your expertise and skills in this summary. If you're a recent graduate, your summary can focus on your short-term goals. Here is an example of a summary statement for a student:
'Motivated and ambitious student working towards a BA in Marketing at the University of London. Keen to join London Weekly as a Junior marketer to help create data-driven marketing campaigns to boost the organisation's media presence.'
Work or employment history
Your work or employment history can include all relevant work experience you have. In this CV format, you start with your current or most recent position. For example, suppose you're applying for the role of a dental assistant. In that case, you can list your work history, starting with your current employer and going back to your first job after graduating if it applies to the dental or healthcare industry.
In this section of your CV, you can consider your past work experience that is most relevant to your next position. For example, you may have worked as a waiter in a restaurant during your university years. In this case, you may choose not to include this work experience in your CV since it's not relevant to the dental position you're applying for.
The educational section of your CV can have a similar structure to the section focusing on your work experience. You can list your most recent academic qualifications before listing older qualifications. Include the most recent or most relevant to a specific position. For example, if you're studying for a postgraduate degree, you do not need to list your schooling on your CV. The educational section of your CV can include coursework and degrees you have earned. It can also include details of other academic accomplishments, including awards you earned.
Skills and abilities
In this section, focus on your most relevant competencies. The skills and abilities you list must relate to the requirements of the position you desire. Your skills and abilities can include hard or technical skills, but also soft or interpersonal skills. Review the job advertisement carefully to determine which of your skills fits with those required for the role and include these in this section.
Interests and achievements
If you want to include your interests and achievements, include them at the end of your CV and only if they are relevant to the position you're applying for. If your CV is multiple pages, it would be better to remove these sections to keep your CV concise, brief and readable. For example, if you have received awards for public speaking as a member of a speakers' club and you're applying for a position as a public relations officer, your achievement as a public speaker applies to the position you desire. In this instance, you can list it at the end of your CV if the CV is not too long.
Example of a chronological CV
The following example uses the practices listed above. You can use it to inspire you when you write your own CV:
London, England | 07365 948 122
A friendly and organised dental assistant with over ten years of experience working with dental offices and clients.
Athlone Family Dentistry, Dental assistant
Clean and prepare the dental treatment rooms
Prepare patients before their dental treatment begins to ensure they remain calm
Explain standard dental procedures and treatments to patients and answer their questions
Malam Dental, Office assistant
August 2010–February 2015
Manage scheduling patients' appointments
Welcome and receive patients upon arrival
Manage patients' billing and other paperwork
Expert Dental College
August 2008–July 2010
Certified Dental Assistant Program
My dental assistant skills include:
Minor oral surgery experience
Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.
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