Eastern Illinois University Logo
Career |

Chronological Resume vs. Functional Resume


Explore Careers

Job Search Resources


Workshops and Events

Campus Interviews

Graduate School Prep

Alumni Career Services


Faculty and Staff


About Us


Contact Career Services


Chronological Resume vs. Functional Resume

What's the Difference?

Just as people come in different sizes and shapes, so do resumes.   The resume format you used as an undergrad may or may not work to your advantage as an alumni.  It all comes down to how you package yourself.    What you will need to consider is what is a good fit for your current situation?   

Chronological Functional


Chronological Resumes

The chronological resume seems to be the most popular format used.  They are straightforward and easy to scan.   It contains a chronological listing (from most recent to the past) of all your employment along with related accomplishments.  Education information is included along with certification and special skills.   


A chronological resume is particularly useful for people who:

  • Are current students and recent graduates, or  
  • Have extensive, uninterrupted employment in the areas you are seeking employment 

    How it Works:
    • Lists positions in reverse chronological order (starting with the most recent and works backwards)
    • Job achievements and skills are listed under each position
    • Presents experience under headings by job title, company, location and dates of employment
    • Format allows employers to easily determine work performed at each company


  • May be hard to communicate your skills and general strengths/qualities
  • Emphasizes gaps in employment
  • Dramatizes short-term employment
  • Most dependent upon past experience 


    8 Real-Life Scenarios That Call For The Chronological

    Check your professional status. If you fit into one of the following groups, then your resume will generally be best served by a chronological format. 

    1. Your work history shows progressively responsible experience within the same professional discipline, if that discipline remains your objective.
    2. You've worked for impressive employers (i.e. nationally recognized "Blue Chip" companies).
    3. You're a candidate for a senior management or executive position.
    4. You're going to be working with an executive recruiter.
    5. You anticipate an international job search.
    6. You're reentering the work force after an absence.. but remaining in your previous discipline.
    7. You're transitioning from military to civilian life... but you're looking to perform a similar job function (i.e. materials management).
    8. You're a new graduate... and you have experience in your chosen field.  



Functional Resume

Functional resumes highlight your abilities rather than your chronological work history. Your skills are organized into categories.  You'll still need to summarize your work history, but this is usually done at the bottom of your resume.   By the time the reader has gotten to that point he/she is usually sold on bringing you in for an interview.  

A functional resume is particularly useful for people who: 

  • Have gaps in their work history that they would like to minimize 
  • Are re-entering the workforce
  • Have frequently changed jobs
  • Are looking to transition into a new career
  • Need to emphasize transferrable skills 
  • Don't exactly fit the mold of what recruiters are looking for in the positions they want.


How it works: 

  • Focus is on skills and experience, rather than on chronological work history
  • Headings consist of functions or skills
  • Responsibilities, accomplishments, and quantifiable achievements are described under each applicable heading
  • Typically opens with a summary or profile detailing your work history, education and strengths in 1-3 sentences
  • Demonstrates how you ideally match the requirements of a particular job for which you are applying, by including relevant achievements and accomplishments

Tip: Separate out the experiences that best relate to your career goal by using headings, such  as: Marketing Experience, Accounting Experience, Counseling Experience, Sales Experience, Customer Service Experience



  • 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 

    5 Real-Life Scenarios That Call For The Functional   

    If you fit into one of the following groups, then your resume will generally be best served by a functional format. 

    1. You've experienced frequent job changes or you have gaps in your employment history.
    2. You're changing careers (i.e. warehousing to sales).
    3. You're transitioning from military to civilian life... and you're looking to perform a different job function (i.e. from materials management with the military to sales in civilian life).
    4. You're overqualified for the position you're now seeking.
    5. You're a new graduate... and you have no relevant experience in your chosen field.