Chronological vs Functional Resumes

There’s more than one way to write a resume. While you may be used to writing your resume chronologically (aka the reverse chronological resume), it may surprise you to know that there’s a different resume type, called the functional resume. Each type serves a different purpose, and one works better than the other depending on the applicant’s life circumstances. Let’s take a look at the difference between a chronologically and functionally written resume, and when it’s best to use one over the other.

Get to know the difference: chronological vs functional resume

As the name suggests, chronological or reverse chronology resumes follow a timeline. This type of resume prioritizes the applicant’s work experiences and arranges these from the latest to the earliest. It’s the most common type of resume, not to mention it’s also fairly easy to write, as long as you’ve kept track of your work history.

A functional resume on the other hand, highlights the applicant’s skills and achievements, taking the attention away from other elements that may reduce an applicant’s chances of getting hired, such as limited work experience, lengthy unemployment or inconsistent work history.

Ultimately, the difference between a chronological and functional resume all boils down to format. The sections of a chronologically formatted resume generally follows this sequence:

• Heading and personal info

• Summary statement

• Work experience

• Skills and training

• Education

• Awards, citations and certifications

As you can imagine, a functionally written resume is organized differently, with the Skills section preceding Work Experience, which is intentionally kept very brief. Often, the functional format resume only includes the last job held. Aside from this major change, the rest of the sections remain largely identical.

Chronological vs Functional Resumes

When to use a chronological resume

If you have a strong work history—meaning, you have been regularly employed in a particular industry—a chronologically written resume will work best for you. Here are other considerations when chronological writing will be the ideal type to use when applying for a job.

• You’ve always held the same job or similar.

• You are highly experienced in your field.

• You’re seeking a new job similar to the one you have or had.

• You have worked your way up in your career.

A chronological vs functional resume allows recruiters to track your career easier, so if your work history ticks these boxes, that’s a good indication that a chronological resume format is the one you should use.

Pros and cons of chronological resume

As with any type of resume, even the popular chronological resume has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s enumerate the chronological resume’s pros and cons.


• Simple and straightforward format

• Easy-to-read layout


• May not be ideal for your career situation

• Can highlight negative career choices such as job hopping and/or lengthy unemployment

When to use a functional resume

Although most employers prefer a chronologically written resume, a functional format resume is still welcome, especially if you can relate to the following:

• You’ve had some spells of job-hopping.

• You’ve changed career paths multiple times.

• You’re looking to change your career track.

Frequently switching from one job to another can be glaringly obvious in a chronological resume, and it gives the impression of a lack of commitment, leaving a negative impression on hiring managers. On the other hand, if you plan on forging a new career track and leave your old one, a functionally written resume will be better for you as well.

Pros and cons of functional resume

The functionally formatted resume is especially helpful in hiding poor career choices, while ensuring that you appear as a highly qualified applicant based on your skills and expertise. That said, it also has its share of pros and cons, as you can see below.


• Allows for better matching of skills to match the job criteria

• De-emphasizes a spotty work history


• Can be difficult to follow

• Provides an incomplete picture of your employment

To ensure that your functionally written resume is as easy to read as a chronological one, you can have a trusted resume writing service like Resumeble write your resume for you. Not only that, a professionally written functional resume will attract the right attention and land you that elusive job interview, as services like Resumeble come with an interview guarantee.

Are there other resume formats I should know about?

A functional format resume is not the only alternative to a chronologically formatted resume. Other resume formats include a CV format and combination resume. Below are their definitions.

CV – short for curriculum vitae, is the application document submitted for jobs in academia, medicine, and scientific laboratories. Unlike traditional resumes that focus on experience and skills, CVs focus on credentials, providing potential employers with a comprehensive list of the applicant’s education, certification, academic experience, and affiliations.

Combination resume – combines a chronologically and functionally written resume, with the skills and qualifications listed first, followed by employment history. This format works best for job seekers who want to emphasize their skills, but have been required to include their work history in their resume by a potential employer. Likewise, this type of resume is also recommended for those who have employment gaps or worked unrelated jobs in the past. A combination resume is also known as a chrono-functional resume.

Choosing the right resume format

Choosing the perfect resume format for your application requires some serious evaluation and preparation on your part. And it all begins with identifying your application goals before you begin the resume writing process. With your goals in mind, use the tips and suggestions in this article to help you decide on the right resume format to use. Check out Resumeble’s sample resumes for ideas and inspiration.

Having trouble choosing the right resume format?

Should you write a chronological vs functional resume? It certainly helps to have a bona fide expert guiding you through the resume writing process. By choosing Resumeble, you will have a professional resume writer working with you one-on-one to build your resume and develop it into an application that showcases your qualifications in the best way possible. Get in touch with us today or send in your resume for a free, no-obligation evaluation.

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