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The Difference Between a Chronological & a Functional Resume

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A résumé is a brief written accounting of relevant work and education experience used to entice an employer into hiring a person applying for a job. This document is usually the first item a prospective employer will see before considering an applicant for a job opening. There are two major types of résumés: the chronological and the functional.


The chronological résumé begins with a list of the job applicant’s previous work history. This list of jobs appears in reverse chronological order, with the most recent job listed first. The strength of this type of résumé is that it showcases the depth and breadth of the work history for a prospective employer. A chronological résumé is a popular choice for a job seeker with a solid, dependable job history.


The functional résumé emphasizes particular job skills and experience rather than job history. The functional résumé is popular with job seekers who have gaps in their work history or have a varied and erratic work history. It is also a good choice for recent college graduates who may not have much job experience, and have skills from experiences other than gainful employment.

Key Differences

At first glance, the chronological and functional résumés look very similar. Both types are about the same length -- no more than a page or two -- and are broken down into sections with subheads. Unlike the chronological résumé, the functional résumé lists work history in order of importance rather than chronologically and does not require the job seeker to list the dates for the listed jobs. Another key difference is that, in a functional résumé, the work history appears near the end of the résumé rather than at the beginning.

Things To Consider

The point of any good résumé is to highlight the attributes of the job seeker so that prospective employers want to interview him for a job opening. A good chronological résumé charts the progress of a job seeker in his chosen profession and demonstrates the stability of his job history. A good functional résumé highlights the skills and attributes of a job seeker so that an employer will see his potential and overall value as an employee. The key weakness of a chronological résumé is that it can often make a job seeker look too commonplace if his experience demonstrates little progress over the course of his career. The key weakness of a functional résumé is that if it is written to hide gaps in employment or inexperience rather than highlighting strengths, it will send up a red flag to employers and make a job seeker look unqualified for the position he is applying for. When deciding which type to use, a job seeker must first decide what his attributes and long-term ambitions are.

  • "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume"; Susan Ireland; Alpha; 2010
  • "The Adams Resume Almanac"; Robert L. Adams; Adams Media; 1994

John C. Erianne is the publisher and editor of "Devil Blossoms," "The 13th Warrior Review" and "Gnome." His writing has appeared in numerous publications over the last 25 years, including "The Adirondack Review," "Blue Collar Review," "Yellow Mama" and "Gutter Eloquence." He graduated from Rowan University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in creative writing.