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Functional vs Chronological Resume—Difference & Examples

Job hunting can be overwhelming by itself, and the sheer amount of resume formats and layouts isn’t helpful. Learn what the two most common resume styles are and when to use them.

Aleksandra Makal
Aleksandra Makal
Career Expert
Functional vs Chronological Resume—Difference & Examples

Aah, just imagine…

 

Wouldn’t it be easier if there was only one type of resume that is universally accepted by employers?

 

It would be, but it wouldn’t be any fun, right?

 

The good news is:

 

It’s not that hard to figure out which type of resume to choose, and once you’ve made your pick, you can truly highlight your individual strengths, skills, and talents with the right formatting. 

 

So let’s dive right into it, and find out what the two most common resume styles are all about: functional vs chronological resumes. 

 

In this article:

 

  • What’s the difference between a functional and a chronological resume format.
  • Two example resumes.
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of a chronological and a functional resume.

 

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chronological resume example

 

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Looking for a specific type of resume? See these:

 

 

1. Functional vs Chronological Resume—What’s the Difference?

 

A functional resume focuses on the skills you’ve gained throughout your career, with less importance given to your exact work history. 

 

A chronological resume, meanwhile, places emphasis on your work history, as it lists every relevant job you’ve held in reverse-chronological order (most recent first). 

 

But—

 

Why Does Your Resume Format Matter? 

 

A resume is the first step towards getting an interview and your one-way ticket into your dream job.

 

How you sell yourself on a resume is crucial to the impression you make on the hiring manager and your future employers.

 

Picking the best resume style to put the spotlight on your biggest strengths is important in positioning yourself as the ideal candidate for that next great job. Plus, sticking to an accepted resume format will help you organize your information on the page in a logical manner, which goes a long way towards boosting readability. 

 

Now then—

 

Let’s take a look at an example for each resume type: functional and chronological. See which one would work best for you!

 

Let’s begin:

 

2. Chronological Resume Example

 

A chronological resume is the most common resume format that shows your work experience and education in reverse chronological order, where your most recent jobs are at the top and your least recent jobs are down below. 

 

As you’ll see in the example below, a chronological resume focuses primarily on employment history.

 

Let's take a closer look at the chronological resume to see if this is resume style is right for you:

 

Amanda Hinkle

Human Resources Specialist

 

909-209-7674

a.hinkle92@gmail.com

 

Summary

 

Personable and dedicated HR Specialist with 7+ years of experience maintaining a staff of 100+ employees. Advised and influenced employee management and leadership with a focus on performance, organizational development and effectiveness. Seeking to join Stexoa as Human Resources Manager. 

 

Experience

 

Human Resources Specialist

ChactFox, Inc., Philadelphia, PA

May 2018–Dec 2021

  • Managed all HR-related tasks for 100+ employees, including payroll processing, employee benefits program, documentation.
  • Led all sourcing, recruiting, and interviewing of candidates, as well as training and on-boarding new recruits.
  • Created sales team evaluation program and safety program to assist in the decreased associate turnover rate from 20% to 15% in 1.5 years.

 

Human Resources Administrative Assistant

Bea Wire, Little Rock, AR

June 2014–May 2018

  • General upkeep of 70+ employee files.
  • Designed job postings for open positions, handled recruitment advertising, and tracked results.
  • Scheduled and maintained complex calendars.
  • Provided back-up to payroll when needed and filed all paperwork in the department.

 

Education

 

BA in Business Administration

Arkansas State University

2015

  • GPA: 3.7
  • Relevant Coursework: Human Resources Management, Principles of Accounting, Finance for Business

 

Certifications

 

PHR Certified

2015

 

When to Use a Chronological Resume?

 

Imagine bumping into an old friend from high school you haven't seen since 2011. 

 

What’s the first question you ask them?

 

“Hey, what were you doing in 2012?”

 

What?

 

First, you’ll probably want to know what’ve they been up to lately… Right?

 

Same with a recruiter.

 

They’ll be definitely more interested in what you've been doing professionally recently, not what you did at an internship right out of college a decade ago. 

 

And that's why a chronological resume will work best for most career situations.

 

So to sum up, the advantages of a chronological resume are:

 

  • Most recruiters are more used to reviewing this resume format than any other
  • It highlights extensive work experience, promotions, and a stable career path
  • Does a better job at explaining your background and skills
  • Considered the simplest format and therefore the easiest to use and read
  • It’s readable and easy to follow if properly written

 

How to Write a Chronological Resume?

 

Here’s a quick run-through of how to write a resume:

 

1. Start With a Persuasive Resume Objective or Summary

 

Right below your resume header, you should write a short, yet compelling resume summary or objective, which summarizes your skills, experience and qualifications. 

 

If you’re writing an entry-level resume, your objective statement should explain why you are interested in the job and why you are fit for it.

 

2. Write an Exceptional Job Description Section

 

The next part of your resume should be a detailed description of your work history, listed in reverse chronological order.

 

That means listing your entries by starting with the most recent one. 

 

Remember to use special keywords that will ensure you're actually submitting a true ATS resume.

Expert Hint: The chronological resume layout is more ATS-friendly, which is important to note since most businesses (including the majority of Fortune 500 companies) use an Applicant Tracking System to perform the initial scan of the submitted resumes.

 

3. Include an Education Section

 

Listing your education on your resume can set you apart from hundreds of other candidates.

 

And it’s easy to make it look neat and professional. 

 

The important thing to remember is to list your entries in the same order you listed your previous jobs. 

 

But!

 

Don’t list everything. 

 

For example, if you have a BA and are currently working on a Master’s degree, you can include two entries, but for most cases, putting your most recent degree should be enough.

 

4. Craft a Perfect Skills Section

 

Just below your education, you should include a separate resume skills section that gives a general overview of your hard and soft skills.

 

Don’t go into too much detail. 

 

Simply listing your skills in bullet points should do the trick.

 

You can, however, make two lists, one for your soft skills (like communication skills, management skills, leadership skills, etc.), and the other for hard skills (technical, computer skills, etc.)

 

5. Jazz Up Your Resume With a Few Bonus Sections

 

Let’s raise your resume up a notch.

 

If you have something else you’d like to show off on your resume, feel free to include any relevant information that you think will increase your chances of getting that interview:

 

  • Volunteer work
  • Certifications
  • Foreign language
  • Other projects
  • Industry blog

 

And that’s all there is to it!

 

Now that you know what a chronological resume looks like, let’s move on to the second part of the guide…

 

Next up:

 

Functional resume.

 

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3. Functional Resume Example

 

As you can see from the example below, in a functional resume, the main focus is on your skills rather than your work experience.

 

It’s a good idea to choose this resume layout when you have little work experience or want to start a career in a new industry—

 

This format can help you disguise lack of experience or any employment gaps.

 

Lauren Donovan

Executive Chef

 

2606 Pinewood Drive

Arlington Heights, IL 60005

847-801-6707

lauren.donovan@gmail.com

 

Summary

 

Award-winning Executive Chef with 9+ years of culinary experience. Managed a high-volume kitchen of 35 staff members for a restaurant with annual sales of $1.5M. Managed all kitchen operations in an upscale restaurant, serving some of the best-quality Greek seafood in town for more than 300 guests a day. Seeking to fill the Chef de Cuisine position at Le Fou Frog. 

 

Core Skills 

 

Creativity

  • Conceptualized and prepared special dishes and promotional items using organic products.
  • Reduced food waste 50% by connecting with local farmers.
  • Developed a weekly lunch and dinner menu with options catering to food allergies and diet restrictions such as gluten-free and vegan.
  • Purchased food and selected production recipes to ensure consistent quality.

 

Leadership Skills

  • Efficiently managed and assisted 30+ kitchen staff in producing food banquets, catered events and member dining areas.
  • Interviewed, trained, scheduled, and directed culinary staff.
  • Ensured adherence to food standards, and oversaw staff welfare.

 

Business Sense

  • Reduced food costs by 17% by estimating purchasing needs and buying through approved suppliers.
  • Increased food revenue by $250K in the first year.
  • Reduced labor cost by 2%.
  • Increased guest satisfaction and loyalty tracking score by 30%.

 

Work History

 

Executive Chef

Ephesus Restaurant, Chicago, IL

2015-2021

 

Sous Chef

Lazy Bear, Chicago, IL

2009-2013

 

Education

 

Culinary Arts Program

Institute of Culinary Education

New York, NY

2011

 

Languages 

 

French—proficient

 

Advantages of a Functional Resume

 

Many jobseekers wonder how to write a resume if they don’t have a clear employment history, or if they’re writing a resume for a career change.

 

They might think that they don’t stand a chance against other, more experienced candidates. 

 

Fortunately, there is a solution! 

 

A functional resume is perfect for downplaying any gaps in your work history or for people who want to switch industries, since this resume’s skills section is its main focus.

 

When to use a functional resume?

 

  • If you have a very diverse employment history.
  • If you’ve just finished your education and don’t have extensive professional experience, but have some qualifications or skills gained in school.
  • If you don’t have a clear career path.
  • If you have gaps in your employment history.
  • If you are planning to change your current industry and have the skills to do so, but a traditional chronological resume will not present them as favorably.

 

What Sections to Include in a Functional Resume?

 

When writing a functional resume, use this short checklist to make sure you have all the resume sections in place:

 

1. Introduce Yourself with a Key Achievement

 

Start with a professional profile that talks about your qualifications and career goals. 

 

Let’s see a couple of examples to get a better understanding of what a correct resume summary should look like:

RIGHT EXAMPLE

Summary

 

Award-winning Executive Chef with 9+ years of culinary experience. Managed a high-volume kitchen of 35 staff members for a restaurant with annual sales of $1.5M. Managed all kitchen operations in an upscale restaurant, serving some of the best-quality Greek seafood in town for more than 300 guests a day. Seeking to fill the Chef de Cuisine position at Le Fou Frog. 

BAD EXAMPLE
Professional Chef with extensive culinary experience. Managed a high-volume kitchen for a high-end restaurant serving some of the best-quality Greek seafood in town. 

See the difference?

 

The first example has the “WOW” effect, while the second one… well… not terrible, but this candidate failed to provide any proof of their skills. 

 

2. Write a Detailed Skills Section

Make sure to elaborate on each skill that you think is important for the role. Use phrases from the job advertisement to ensure your resume is targeted to the specific job.

RIGHT EXAMPLE

Core Skills 

 

Creativity

  • Conceptualized and prepared special dishes and promotional items using organic products.
  • Reduced food waste 50% by connecting with local farmers.
  • Developed a weekly lunch and dinner menu with options catering to food allergies and diet restrictions such as gluten-free and vegan.
  • Purchased food and selected production recipes to ensure consistent quality.

 

Leadership Skills

  • Efficiently managed and assisted 30+ kitchen staff in producing food banquets, catered events and member dining areas.
  • Interviewed, trained, scheduled, and directed culinary staff.
  • Ensured adherence to food standards, and oversaw staff welfare.

 

Business Sense

  • Reduced food costs by 17% by estimating purchasing needs and buying through approved suppliers.
  • Increased food revenue by $250K in the first year.
  • Reduced labor cost by 2%.
  • Increased guest satisfaction and loyalty tracking score by 30%.

Perfect! 

 

This example clearly demonstrates the candidate’s most important strengths and elaborates on them.

3. Include a Short Employment History Section

…without expanding it into duties and responsibilities. 

 

This is just to show that you have worked for reputable employers and gained a substantial amount of experience from the opportunities.

RIGHT EXAMPLE

Work History

 

Executive Chef

Ephesus Restaurant, Chicago, IL

2015–2021

 

Sous Chef

Lazy Bear, Chicago, IL

2009–2013

Now, by looking at this example alone, we notice that this specific candidate has a two-year employment gap, but with a polished and detailed skills section like the one above, the recruiter might not even notice it. 

 

4. Mention Your Education

 

Education is always considered as advantage in the employment market, so make sure to mention it in your functional resume.

RIGHT EXAMPLE

Education

 

Culinary Arts Program

Institute of Culinary Education

New York, NY

2011

Expert Hint: If there’s anything else that you’d like to share regarding your education, feel free to include it: your GPA, relevant coursework, extracurricular activities, etc.

5. Use Bonus Sections

 

Just like with a chronological resume, extra sections (Volunteering, Languages, Certifications, etc.) can help to show the recruiters that you are the right person for the position.

RIGHT EXAMPLE

Languages 

 

  • French—proficient

 

Certifications 

 

  • Professional Pastry Program (PPP) Certification—Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, 2018
BAD EXAMPLE

Other Activities

 

  • Jogging
  • Yoga
  • Knitting

While it’s great to have other hobbies outside of work, leave out any information that isn’t relevant to the position you’re applying for. 

 

That wasn’t that hard, was it?

 

Now do you know which resume style to choose?

 

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Key Points

 

Let’s wrap it up— 

 

  • The two most common resume formats are: chronological and functional.
  • Each resume style is suited for different types of candidates and their different career situations.
  • Use a chronological resume if you have a clear career path and would like to highlight your work history.
  • Choose the functional resume if you’ve had any gaps in your employment history or if you’re switching industries. 

 

Thanks for reading! Got any lingering questions about using a chronological vs functional resume? Perhaps you have some experience in this matter that you’d like to share? Give us a shout in the comments! 

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Aleksandra Makal
Aleksandra Makal
Aleksandra is a career expert with a solid professional background in various industries. At ResumeLab, she shares her knowledge, insights and expertise with all applicants looking to make a career move with a perfect resume and cover letter that guarantee recognition and success.

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