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Chronological vs. Functional Resumes - Which To Choose?




Posted on November 2nd, 2010

Your resume is a marketing tool that should effectively sell your skills, experience, and educational qualifications to prospective employers. When developing your resume, there are two different types of resume formats you should consider: a chronological resume and a functional resume. Your decision to choose one format over another should be dependent on your career background and personal circumstances. The ultimate decision will be based on that format that allows you to most effectively present your qualifications.

Chronological Resumes

Q. What is a chronological resume?

A. In a chronological resume format, your employment experience history is organized in reverse chronological order so that your most recent job position is listed first. This type of format emphasizes your job titles and employers, as well as your dates of employment with each employer. Your responsibilities and accomplishments should be described in detail for each individual position.

Q. What are the advantages to using a chronological resume?

A. Chronological resumes are easy to read, use a logical flow, and can effectively highlight career growth. Since this type of resume emphasizes the details of each position, using a chronological resume will draw attention to impressive titles and prestigious employers.

Q. What are the disadvantages to using a chronological resume?

A. Because of the format of a chronological resumes, this style easily undercover gaps in your employment history and frequent job changes. It also draws attention to the fact that you may be relative experienced in the workforce or in a particular career.

Q. What types of candidates should choose to use a chronological resume?

A. Chronological resumes are best suited for those individuals whose job history reflects steady career growth, those who are remaining in the same field, and those whose career goals are clearly defined and in alignment with their work history. This type of resume is also suitable for candidates who have prior employment with a prestigious employer that they want to highlight.

Functional Resumes

Q. What is a functional resume?

A. Functional resumes have often been referred to as problem solving resumes in that they allow you to organize your resume by functional skills as opposed to purely chronological order. This allows individuals to make sense of their work history by matching up skills and accomplishments from different jobs that might otherwise be overlooked by an employer in a more traditional chronological formatted resume. The goal is to highlight specific key qualifications which have been demonstrated through a variety of work-related achievements. As opposed to a chronological resume, skills do not have to be presented in the order of accomplished in a functional resume, but instead may be presented in order of importance and relevance to the job for which you are applying.

Q. What are the advantages to using a functional resume?

A. Using a functional resume keeps the emphasis on key relevant skills you possess that make you a good fit for a position. It allows candidates to align accomplishments from several different positions for a more powerful impact, since these skills might otherwise be lot in the shuffle in a traditional resume. Functional resumes also minimize the impact of inexperience in the workforce or field, frequent job changes, and any gaps in your employment history.

Q. What are the disadvantages to using a functional resume?

A. The presence of a clear career progression can easily be lost in a functional resume, as can extended experience in your targeted industry or field. Impressive employers or job titles are de-emphasized, which is a disadvantage if these are strong selling points in your experience. Additionally, some recruiters and managers dislike functional resumes due to their perceived lack of logical flow.

Q. What types of candidates should choose to use a functional resume?

A. A functional resume is a solid option for individuals who are looking to change careers, returning to the job market after a long absence, trying to minimize fair-to-average career growth. This format is also appropriate for new graduates, candidates with limited work experience, and individuals whose work history is a mixed bag of unrelated experience.


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