How to Write a Resume Based on Work History

by Fred Pinnegar, Resume Coach and Professional Writer

Resumes based on work history, or chronological resumes, are the probably the most common format for resumes. They are particularly effective if you have been working for one company or in one profession for some time and are applying for another position in the same field. On the other hand, if you have gaps in your work history or are changing careers, a resume based on job titles or job skills (also known as a functional resume) may be more appropriate. The chronological resume is best for work histories that show stability and steady progression in your field.


1. Identification. Provide complete information at the top to identify yourself. Include name, address, phone number, and e-mail, as well as a fax number, if you have one. Symmetrically balance the information and make your name stand out by using a slightly larger font than you use for the other major headings.

Example 1, standard centered heading

3010 South 14th Street
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009
(613) 333-7348

Example 2, heading information balanced across top of page

John Doe
1212 Westwood Drive Phone: (213) 235-7865
Springfield, Iowa 95634
Phone: (213) 235-7865
Fax: (213) 235-6549

Example 3, heading for student with two addresses

John Doe
School Address (until 4/10)
1212 Westwood Drive Phone: (213) 235-7865
Springfield, Iowa 95634
Phone: (367) 387-9753
Permanent Address
5612 Riva Drive
Carmichael, CA 95853
Phone: (156) 286-7958

Example 4, side heading

John Doe

1212 Westwood Drive
Springfield, Iowa 95634
Phone: (367) 387-9753

2. Objective. Use an objective section to identify and define the position you seek. Echo the language of the job advertisement or posting.

Example 1.

Identify the position by job title.


Administrative Assistant
Customer Service Representative
Human Resources Director
Assistant Manager
Purchasing Manager
Construction Estimator
Physical Therapist
Bank Manager
Real Estate Associate
Construction Supervisor
Construction Estimator
Lab Technician
Elementary School Teacher (K-12)

Example 2.

Identify the position by the work to be performed.


To teach Spanish in a secondary school
To sell building materials and construction equipment
To manage an apartment complex
Computer programming position with a company that encourages creative thinking
Position as an accountant in a construction firm
An accounts receivable position in a local company
Position as a lab technician performing medical research
Research scientist doing work involving gene cloning
Position as a medical records technician
Tool design position

Example 3.

Identify the position by job title and type of industry


Pharmaceutical salesperson in a high-volume company
Medical equipment salesperson
Manager of a large hotel
Manager of an upscale, high-volume restaurant
Sales representative in the food or catering industry
Programmer position in educational software development
Chair side dental assistant in a large, private dental office
City planner in a small community

Example 4.

Identify the position by level or time commitment.


Entry-level position in medical equipment sales
Entry-level position in financial planning services
Entry-level position in retail management (men's clothing) with a large company
Entry-level position as a fireman
Mid-level management
Assistant director of development
Assistant manager of a large hotel
Senior-level international business development
Senior position in medical equipment sales
Director of a family medical practice
Full-time position in public relations
Part-time position in drafting
Summer position in the construction industry

3. Work Experience. Organize your work experience by listing all the jobs you have held in inverse chronological order (most recent first). Identify the name and location of the company, followed by the dates of your employment with each company. Then indicate the position that you held with each organization. Then, itemize responsibilities, skills, duties, and achievements associated with those positions that are particularly relevant to the objective or specifications for the job you are seeking.

Restaurant Manager, Market Square High Wheeler, 2006-2009; Kalamazoo, Michigan

  • Responsible for day-to-day operations of restaurant and catering business
  • Supervised A/P, A/R, purchasing, inventory, scheduling, and payroll
  • Maintained employee files for a staff of 35
  • Managed hiring, firing, training, scheduling, and motivating of clerical and cooking staff
  • Developed menu for restaurant, banquets, and outside catering

Store Manager, Brass Lantern, 2002-2005, Prudenville, Michigan

  • Performed duties and tasks similar to those at High Wheeler
  • Managed staff of 30, supervising activities of clerical, bartending, cooking, waiting, and cleaning people
  • Directed general remodeling of kitchen, including new layout design, painting, paneling, electrical, plumbing, etc.

Country Club Manager, Orchard Hills Country Club, 1999-2001, Buchanan, Michigan

  • Worked for Triplett Management Services as a contracted manager
  • Performed duties and tasks similar to those at High Wheeler
  • Managed restaurant staff of 30, supervising activities of clerical, bartending, cooking, waiting, and cleaning people
  • Managed staff and activities of swimming pool crew (5) and golf course grounds keeping crew (10)
  • Prepared operating budgets and financial reports for Triplett Services and the Board of Directors

Manager, Shawnee Country Club, 1997-1999, Lima, Ohio

  • Supervised day-to-day operations similar to those at High Wheeler
  • Functioned as on-site representative for a major remodeling project; including design work, plumbing, electrical, carpeting, painting, wallpapering, and concrete work
  • Managed staff of 55

Clubhouse Manager/Asst. to GM, Dubuque Gold and Country Club, 1996-1997, Dubuque, Iowa

  • Trained in restaurant management by the club General Manager
  • Assisted in supervision and record keeping for a staff of 60
  • Prepared budgets and gave reports on clubhouse sales and expenses to Board of Directors

4. Education. Provide information on all degrees you have earned, in inverse chronological order. Identify the degree and major field, where you earned the degree, and when it was awarded. You can also list important, relevant courses you took or projects you completed.

For someone with a recent undergraduate degree

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, 2005-2009
University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky

For someone soon to receive his or her undergraduate degree

Bachelor of Science, University of Arizona (expected 5/2010)
Major: Business Economics

Related coursework:

Economic Price Theory
Business Policy 
Business CalculusOperations Management
AccountingPersonnel Management
Business ManagementBusiness Law
MarketingComputer Science
Small Group Decision MakingBusiness Statistics
Organizational CommunicationsPsychology

Second example

Purdue University
Bachelor of Arts in Communications; expected 4/09
Minors in Spanish and Speech Therapy

Major Courses

Interpersonal CommunicationDebate
Public SpeakingPersuasion
Oral InterpretationInterviewing
Mass CommunicationTechnical Writing

For someone with two graduate degrees


JD, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. 1989
MBA, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. 1986
BA, South Florida University, Miami Florida, 1983

For someone applying for an internship while going to school


George Washington University; Washington, D.C.
Junior year in Mechanical Engineering major. GPA: 3.47
Expected graduation, May 2010

Important courses:

Materials EngineeringChemistry
Technical WritingCADKEY

For someone who has attended more than one college or university

California State University, Bachelor of Science, May 2008
Major: Industrial Supervision

Utah Valley State College, Associate of Science, May 2006
Major: Aviation Maintenance Technology

For someone who is qualified by their degree plus certification

California State University, Bachelor of Science, May 2008
Major: Industrial Supervision

Utah Valley State College, Associate of Science, May 2006
Major: Aviation Maintenance Technology

Federal Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic's License, 2006


5. Activities. This section may include extracurricular activities during college or it can describe current activities that demonstrate your leadership, sociability, and energy level outside of the workplace. You may also discuss volunteer work here. Emphasize those activities that are most relevant to the position you seek.


  • Provided public relations and religious instruction for my church, New England Area. Supervisory responsibility for 170 missionaries in six states (2002-2004)
  • Boy Scouts of America Troop Councilman
  • Participated in frequent church-sponsored welfare service activities
  • Spring Fling (largest student-sponsored carnival in US) student volunteer
  • Arizona Dental Week, student volunteer (2008)

6. Honors. Itemize awards and achievements, including competitive scholarships based on ability rather than need.

Received academic scholarship from College of Biology


  • Eagle Scout Award (BSA)
  • MVP in Tucson Regional Basketball Tournament
  • BPA Student Council Vice President
  • California Boys State

7. Language. List languages you know in addition to English (or the dominant language of the country in which you reside). Indicate your degree of proficiency (good, fair, excellent, near-native) in reading, writing, and speaking.

For a person bilingual by national circumstances


  • Bilingual education is required in Canada, and I am equally fluent in both languages.

For a person who developed skill by living abroad


  • Developed language skills through two years of residence in Peru doing voluntary religious service for my church
  • Completed upper-division coursework in Spanish at CSU
  • Fluency in reading, speaking, and writing

For a person who is multilingual through education


  • Completed coursework for a major in French Literature
  • Participated in Semester Abroad, Spring 2005
  • Fluent reading, speaking, and writing


  • Completed coursework for a minor in Spanish
  • Excellent conversation and reading; good writing skills

8. Publications. List titles of articles, book chapters, or books you have published. For articles, include the name of the journal in which the article appeared, as well as the volume number, date, and inclusive pages. For books, provide the publisher's name, the place of publication, and the date.

Women, Design, and The Boston School, West Fairfield, Indiana: PBA Publishers, 2000.

Plan Graphics for Experts, West Fairfield, Indiana: PBA Publishers, 2002.

From Lines to Designs: Design Graphics, Chicago, Illinois: Design Publishers, 2004.

"Spacial Analysis Is the First Step," Designer's Quarterly, 45 (December 1989): 56-61.

9. Professional associations. List relevant associations and the length of your membership.


  • Phi Alpha Delta (2008-2009)
  • Member, Sigma Delta Pi, Spanish Honor Society (2007)

10. Interests and Personal Information. Generally, you should include information about your personal background or traits only if they are pertinent to the job you seek.

Family activities, church service, sports, reading

11. References. You should include a reference page with your resume. A reference page is a list of contacts who know you well and who can vouch for your knowledge and skills in a particular area, your ability to work hard, or your previous work experience. Some applicants choose not to include a reference sheet with their resume and instead include a statement such as “References Available upon Request” on their resume, but doing so is discouraged. Busy hiring managers or human resource representatives may not feel like putting in the extra time and effort to contact you in order to obtain your references, so you might find yourself out of the running prematurely if you choose not to include your references with your resume.


Larry Gibson
Preventive Maintenance Supervisor, Oak Tree Professional Building
626 North 4nd Street
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009
Phone: 672-0677

Gerry Paduk
(Former) General Manager of High Wheeler
5332 West Main
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009
Phone: 325-2022

Danielle Widtsoe
Managing Director, ABC Asset Managers
123 East 2300 South Street
Detroit, Michigan 55551
Phone: 555-5555