Chronological vs. functional/skill based resumes

What’s the Difference? 

The two most commonly used resume formats are: Chronological and Functional/Skill Based.

Below you will find descriptions of these types of resumes, plus their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Chronological 

  • Use if you have extensive, uninterrupted employment in the area you are seeking employment 
  • Lists, describes and dates the specifics of each job and educational experience separately 
  • Listings under each category are placed in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent


Advantages

  • Easy to read, write and follow 
  • Has been the most traditional 
  • Emphasizes continuity and career growth 
  • Usually stresses the most recent employment 
  • Highlights the name of employer 


Disadvantages

  • If done the traditional way, hard to communicate skills and general strengths/qualities 
  • Emphasizes gaps in employment 
  • Dramatizes short-term employment 
  • Most dependent upon past experience 

Functional/Skills Based

  • Lack direct job-related experience 
  • Have too much or too varied professional experience and wish to consolidate it 
  • Are attempting a career change and need to emphasize transferable skills 
  • Are experienced, but have ”gaps” in your work history that you would like to minimize 
  • Focuses on your strengths and skill areas, and de-emphasizes positions and dates 
  • Skills are organized into categories 
  • Always add a Work History section after your skill categories to give credibility to your experience and skills


Advantages

  • Maximizes impact in a functional area without being tied to ‘paid' work experience 
  • More flexibility in organizing information, e.g., according to interests, not chronology 
  • De-emphasizes short–term work history


Disadvantages

  • Some employers are not accustomed to this format, and it can be confusing for employers to follow 
  • It tends to play down direct work experience with specific employers