Should I Use a Chronological or Functional Resume Format?

Your resume can open and close doors. It’s main purpose is to market yourself to your prospective employers, and hopefully it will land you an interview or two.

Resumes can come in different formats. The most common ones are chronological format and functional format. There are a variety of situations in which each certain formats can work differently.

Here is the difference between the two and what could work best for you, depending on your situation:

1. Chronological resumes:

A chronological resume is straightforward and easy to scan, making it the most commonly used format. It lists information in chronological order, starting with the most recent information. It works well if you have a very consistent career life. If you are applying for a job in the same industry, the full chronology will be relevant to your prospective employer.

However, if you gaps in your career path or if you have changed careers often, then a chronological resume may not be suitable for you, as it will dramatise these gaps and career changes.

Situations where a chronological resume works best for you:

  • Your work history shows progressive experience within the same career field, if you are applying for a job in the same field.
  • You have worked for companies that are recognised nationally.
  • You are a new graduate, and you have experience in a the field you are applying for.
  • You are applying for a senior executive position.

2. Functional resumes:

A functional resume highlights your skills and abilities. Instead of organising your information in a chronological order, your skills and achievements are organised into categories. You usually put your work history at the bottom of your resume.

This type of resume is best suited for you if you have gaps in your work history because by not listing your information chronologically, you can make these gaps less noticeable. A functional resume is also a good format to you if you have held jobs in different fields, as you are likely to have acquired various skills in these jobs. However, some employers may not be used to seeing resumes in this format and may find it confusing and hard to follow.

Situations where a functional resume works best:

  • You have taken extended leaves from the work force.
  • You may be overqualified for the job you are applying for.
  • You are changing careers.
  • You are a new graduate, and you have no experience in the field you want to work in.
  • You are leaving military and are applying for a job with a different job function.

Which format of resume do you prefer to use? Let us know in the comments below!