Chronological vs. Functional Resume: The Benefits

When most people are faced with the dilemma of writing their resume, they think it is a simple task of merely listing positions held with a job description.

But, creating a resume to accurately depict your job history is more than that. It is a marketing tool and an opportunity to showcase your skills and talents in a concise and brief manner.

The two most common formats used in resume writing are the chronological and functional.

Basic Information

All resumes begin with contact information at the top of the page. Your contact information should include name, city and state, phone number and email address.

LinkedIn profile URL is optional. If you have one, by all means, include it and ensure it contains updated information.

The Chronological Resume Format

This format is simple and to-the-point. It begins with a summary which lists accomplishments throughout your career.
The next section is the experience section. List your most recent employer through your least recent employer along with dates employed and position title.

Describe what you did and how well you did it. For example, if you are a customer service supervisor, then your position description may look like this:

XYZ Company May, 2015-Present Customer Service Supervisor

  • Trained and Supervised 35 employees in call center
  • Increased productivity by 27%
  • Decreased absenteeism by 15%
  • Decreased escalation rate by 36%

Following your experience section, list your education and certifications.

Pros And Cons Of The Chronological Resume

This resume format highlights experience over skills. It is simple, straightforward and easy to understand. It is ideal for those who have experienced linear career growth or who have worked in the same industry but for different companies.

While the chronological resume is the preferred format by recruiters and other decision makers, it may not be the format that is right for your career situation.

By its very nature, the design of the format can highlight negative aspects of your career such as job hopping or an extended absence from the workforce.

Functional Resume Defined

For individuals, for whom the chronological resume may not help to place their careers in the best light, the functional resume with its emphasis on skills rather than experience may help you to reach the interview stage.

This resume format begins with a career objective which defines the type of position you want. Then, list each skill as a separate headline and beneath the headline, list 3 to 5 bullet points demonstrating your proficiency in that skill. Examples of skills are accounting, customer service or communication.

Following the skills assessment, list your work history with the company name, dates worked and position title. The next section lists your education and certifications.

This resume format is ideal for job-hoppers, people re-entering the workforce after a long absence and those who have little experience. It is, also, a good format for those who are switching careers.

Pros And Cons Of The Functional Resume

The beauty of the functional resume is that it helps to mitigate career flaws such as gaps in employment and job-hopping. But, it is also a way to showcase skills you learned as a result of a non-career path. Perhaps, you learned skills as a result of volunteer activities.

One drawback to the functional resume is that recruiters may assume you are hiding something. Despite this, it is an ideal way to present your credentials in the best possible light to gain the interview.

Chronological Resume vs. Functional Resume

While the chronological resume is the simplest to write and the easiest to read, the functional resume allows for creativity – not creativity in the sense of embellishment, but creativity in the way you present the information.

The functional resume format is an opportunity to highlight skills that you possess that match the criteria of the job you want no matter where those skills were learned or acquired. Its purpose is to showcase your expertise and de-emphasize your work history by categorizing your skills.

The chronological resume, on the other hand, is limiting in that you are confined to discussing only the skills you learned during the time frame you were employed by a current or former employer.

Choosing The Right Resume Format

Creating the right resume for your career objectives requires some preparation and analysis of your goals before you begin the process of writing your resume. Choosing the right resume format is only a part of the process of ultimately getting the job you desire.

Author bio

Thierry Smith is a writer who resides in Houston, TX and writes about careers and resume topics.

I founded ResumeOK in 2011, with the goal of helping people increase their chances to get a better job. I am a career and online marketing expert that has reviewed and written thousands of resumes. During my career, I have found certain patterns that make a resume successful, and I’m sharing all my insights in the samples that you can find on ResumeOK. My work has been published by reputable publications such as BusinessInsider, FoxNews, SmartRecruiters,, HuffPost, ZipRecruiter, SnagAJob. If you need help with your resume, or just want to say “hi”, send me an email. Read more about us here .

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