Favored by recruiters, reverse chronological résumés tell your professional story backward.

That’s a good thing. Usually.

There are some exceptions to this rule.

Other résumé formats tell your story differently. One of those may be best for you.

We’ll look at them, too.

Let’s move forward.

What is Reverse Chronological Order?

Reverse Chronological Order (RCO) is a way of organizing information. It lists events that start with the most recent event and proceed backward in time.

Résumés are often written in RCO, beginning with your most recent job position at the top of the list, progressing step-by-step back through your work history, and ending at the earliest relevant position. Like this:

  1. My Current Job.
  2. My Previous Job.
  3. My First Job.

Benefits of Reverse Chronological Résumés

Employers are interested in your most recent experience. They like to see this at the top of the résumé so they don’t waste time on irrelevant details.

This résumé format benefits you, too.

  • Showcases your most recent and possibly most significant job experience.
  • Makes it easy to review your work history and qualifications without confusion.
  • By going back through time, your professional growth is evident. They can see where you started and where you are now.
  • It shows that your most recent experience aligns with the job’s requirements.
  • A continuous timeline avoids red flags bosses are looking for, such as gaps in your work history. This format is also suitable for those without frequent job changes. It shows stability and consistency.
  • It leaves a good impression on the reader by showing your most recent skills and achievements first. Transparency is a plus.
  • Provides a clear overall picture of your professional journey, which is effective in a wide variety of industries.

When Not to Use the Reverse Chronological Format

Many qualified job seekers find the RCO format detrimental to their purposes. There are many reasons for this.

RCO puts a heavy emphasis on dates.

This can backfire if you…

  • Have significant employment gaps.
  • Have changed jobs frequently.
  • Are transitioning to a new career and your current job is irrelevant to the new industry.
  • Are an entry-level candidate with little or no experience to fill a résumé timeline.
  • Are selling specific skills rather than a job progression throughout your past.
  • Haven’t progressed upwards in your professional journey.
  • Are part of the older workforce worried about age discrimination.

Alternate Résumé Formats for Different Purposes

If you want a résumé that isn’t dedicated solely to a consistent work history and upward career progression, you’re not alone.

The functional, hybrid, targeted, and mini résumés are available to present your story differently from RCO.

Whether or not to use an alternate résumé format is a strategic decision that can improve your chances of landing the job you want.

Functional Résumé

If you have specific, in-demand skills and wish to highlight those rather than dates of employment, you can use a functional (skills-based) résumé.

This is a good choice for those changing their careers, having gaps in their employment, or simply wanting to focus on their skills over everything else.

Hybrid (combination) Résumé

Combining the functional résumé with RCO shows a focus on skills and a consistent, relevant work history. This is a powerful combination.

Hybrid is a good format for those with diverse or specialized skills. It also works for those looking to change the industry they work in. The hybrid shows what you can do and how long you’ve been doing it.

Targeted Résumé

Targeted résumés have become quite popular since the advent of the artificially intelligent Applicant Tracking System (ATS). An ATS, increasingly used by small, medium, and large businesses, filters out unwanted job applications before a human ever sees them.

You must target and format your modern-day résumé to pass the ATS screening. This means tailoring every résumé you submit to the specific job description you are applying for.

You may not pass the ATS scan test if your résumé doesn’t contain the specific keywords that the job description uses.

An ATS scan looks for:

  • Closely matching job titles.
  • Relevant skills, both hard and soft.
  • Relevant education and certifications.
  • Professional experience.
  • Consistent use of dates.
  • Location, if relevant.

You must customize your résumé to please the ATS. It’s that simple.

You must also format your résumé to be what’s known as “ATS-friendly,” or the ATS can’t read it and discards it immediately.

Our service, aiapply.com, uses AI to combat the ATS. We provide automatically tailored résumés, cover letters, and follow-up emails based on the text of the specific job description you’re after. All your résumés are ATS-friendly.

We do much more than that, too, and you can start for free.

Mini Résumé

Depending on your circumstances, you may not need a full-blown résumé.

The mini résumé is a brief summary of your career highlights. The mini is not typically used for job applications. It’s just a quick snapshot of your work history and relevant skills.

This is perfect for networking, where you don’t need all the details, just a listing of the most relevant portions of your full résumé.

Looking Forward

This article may have told you more about reverse chronological order than you thought was possible.

Hopefully, you gained some insight into RCO and the alternative formats that are available. One of them is bound to be just what you need.

If you have further questions, you can contact us.

Visit aiapply.com today and generate an ATS-friendly, tailored résumé for free.