It’s Time to Ditch the Functional Resume and Use a Chronological Format Instead
Resume Writing

It’s Time to Ditch the Functional Resume and Use a Chronological Format Instead

I have recently worked with jobseekers who have spent months trying to find a job after being unemployed and clients who are looking to switch career paths. During my time with them, I ask them to send me a copy of their resume and low and behold a significant amount of them have a functional resume. When I ask them why they are using a functional style resume… it’s usually that they have either read somewhere that it should be used to hide employment gaps, lack of experience, or when you are trying to change careers. What I find shocking is when an employment center suggests using the functional format. Who is still giving this bad advice to job seekers? It’s time to ditch the functional resume and use a chronological format instead!

You might be sitting there thinking why are you so passionate about chronological resumes?

Functional resumes make sense if you really are trying to hide a gap in employment or if you are trying to highlight your job skills when attempting to change careers. Right? Wrong…

After spending 10+ years working in HR, overseeing recruitment processes, and getting direct feedback from hiring managers on applicants that I put through to them, if you ditch the functional resume template you’ll find a job quicker than if you continue to use it.

In this post we are going to look at functional and chronological resumes, but I am mostly going to highlight why you should be using a chronological one.

I hope that as you read through this short and simple post – you go back to your functional resume and ditch it. Print off a copy so you can use it as a reference point and help with any writer’s block. But delete it from your computer.

Please. Don’t. Use. It. Again!

Here’s a list of blog posts that can help you rewrite your resume using a chronological template:

Employers are looking for real people, they get that there can be gaps in employment (because of childcare, eldercare, health reasons, etc.), and they understand that people may look at making career changes. You don’t need to disguise it.

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Chronological Resume vs. Functional Resume

There are two main types of resume formats that are used by job seekers, chronological and functional.

Functional resumes are often used to hide career gaps or limited experience by focusing on your skills – employment history is secondary. This type of resume often leaves hiring managers with a lot of questions…

What job provided them that skill or experience?

How did they obtain these skills/ competencies they claim they have?

Their employment history doesn’t match with the skills they claim they have, what is their real story?

There’s a lot of fluff and overselling their knowledge, skills, abilities, and achievements but where did they obtain it and how can they prove these achievements?

These questions, plus many more are the types of questions I have gotten from hiring managers when I have put through an applicant who submitted a functional resume. And admittedly so, when I learned hiring managers don’t favor these resumes and usually turn them down, I stopped pushing them through the screening process. Unless an applicant pool was extremely sparse, I didn’t dig in to do the research and talk to the candidate to get their full story. Work days are busy, we want candidates to put their best foot forward, tell us everything we need to hear to make a hiring decision, we don’t want to be left guessing…provide employers, with your employment story in a way that makes sense and you’ll get further in your job search.

So, the truth is…

All these questions that recruiters and hiring managers are trying to sort through while reviewing your functional resume may make them set it aside for a more conclusive application. An applicant who has provided a resume that doesn’t require them to do some research to fill in the gaps or make assumptions – will make the cut while your resume get’s the “rejection”. If you do have gaps in your resume or are looking to make a career change, sometimes it is better to be upfront about and indicate it on your cover letter (depending on the reason).

Most hiring managers and recruiters prefer chronological resumes. Chronological resumes provide work experience starting with the most recent or current position. Modern chronological resumes provide the following sections: contact information, a professional profile, key skills, education, additional training, and publications (if applicable).

The most important differentiator is that your experience is clearly laid out.

And an employer can see…

  • your job title,
  • who your worked for,
  • when you worked for them,
  • your job responsibilities (in that exact role), and
  • accomplishments/ achievements.

There is a full employment story for them to read and it is clear for them to understand how you are a good match for the role they are looking to fill.

Here Are Two Reasons Why You Need to Ditch the Functional Resume and Use A Chronological Format Instead

1. Chronological resumes are preferred by hiring managers and recruiters

SO I already went on a rant about this above, but to be clear…

Many hiring managers prefer the use of chronological resumes as the layout “makes sense”. It tells them exactly what they want to know, and they know where to look for the information they want.

They aren’t left to make assumptions about your gaps in employment or try to make sense of a career change that you might be looking to make.

2. Applicant tracking systems find chronological resumes easier to read

Applicant tracking systems (ATSs) also love chronological resumes! By uploading a functional resume to an ATS, it can actually work against you! The format of a functional resume cannot be properly read by an ATS. ATSs have been programmed to read resumes that follow a chronological format. So, it will not be able to properly scan your resume to see if you match the job description it is comparing your resume against.

If you have been using a functional resume and uploading it to ATSs, there is a chance the computer can’t make sense of it. Therefore it’s not matching you as an ideal candidate when it’s screening your resume.

So, if you are currently researching what resume template to use and are thinking…

“Should I use a functional resume??”

My answer is always. NO! Don’t do it and whoever is still teaching this form of resume writing needs to stop! It’s time to ditch the functional resume and use a chronological format instead. People prefer it and modern recruitment technologies prefer it.

Short and sweet…

Two reasons, which are huge reasons, systems scanning resumes and people scanning resumes/ making hiring decisions don’t like them. If you aren’t sure how to switch your functional resume into a chronological one, there are an abundance of articles in this blog category that will help you!

My best piece of advice though is to start from scratch. Rebuild and rewrite your resume all over again using a chronological resume template. Check out my shop to purchase a professional resume template and resume writing guidebook!