The Reverse Chronological Resume Has Had Its Fifteen Minutes

Am I the only one who thinks the reverse chronological resume is long overdue for a … reversal?


I don’t know whose idea it was to make people read history backwards, but it’s time to dismiss this antiquated format and switch to one that’s more reader friendly—and just makes more sense.  You know … like putting stuff in the order in which it actually happened?

I edit resumes for a living, and I can only imagine hiring managers’ frustration at trying to piece together a career progression that goes from—reading down the page—Executive Vice President of Operations to ultimately … mailroom guy.

Where’s the “logic” in reverse chronological?

Wouldn’t it make a whole lot more sense if we could follow this candidate’s exceptional spunk, drive, and indefatigability (good word, that) by watching him go from mailroom schlep to CEO?  Because of reverse chronological, the poor guy goes down the tubes in a matter of just a few years.  From Riches to Rags.  He’s a loser!

If I were a hiring manager, I’d scan the top one-third of the resume to get an overview of the candidate’s personal branding statement, skill set, and maybe even a glimpse into his or her personality.  But next—I would disregard society’s continued acceptance of this awkward practice, defy convention, and … yes! … read the resume from the bottom to the top.  A quick glance at the education, certifications, and licenses, and then continuing up through the candidate’s real-life progression and work history.  And upwards is no way to have to read!

I’ve edited countless resumes in which the candidate was “promoted to this position from  Vice President” and in the position below that one, he is the “Vice President”—and my brain has to hit the brakes and reconcile that he’s … still the Vice President?  No wait, he’s “Associate Director” now … oh, I see … later (in the one I just read) he becomes Vice President, so let me look at those years again …

I don’t read any other type of history backwards—so why would I want to read a resume that way?


So I suggest that today—any of you hiring managers, career strategists, recruiters, etc. out there hearing my plea … start insisting that job seekers everywhere begin writing in the other direction!

Let’s read resumes the way we would anything else!  It’s time to create the next revolution in job searching … the Not-Reverse or … Forward Chronological resume!


But … I guess … if you want to see someone’s most recent experience first, then … forget I brought it up.  


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