Chronological Resume vs. Functional Resume (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 18, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are various resume formats with unique features, advantages, and disadvantages. Choosing the most appropriate format can help you write a suitable and impressive resume based on the role and company. Understanding the difference between resume formats can help you choose the most appropriate one for your job applications and improve your chances of progressing to the interview stage. In this article, we discuss chronological resume vs. functional resume formats, explain when it's appropriate to use each one, highlight helpful resume writing tips, and provide examples as a guide.

Chronological resume vs. functional resume

Although they have similar sections, comparing chronological resume vs. functional resume formats shows their distinct characteristics. Some key differences between them include:

Meaning

A chronological resume allows you to highlight your work history and accomplishments in reverse chronological order. This implies that you emphasize your most recent job first, followed by previous roles, and end with your earliest position. In contrast, a functional resume format highlights your abilities and skills instead of your professional experience. Using this resume format aims to show the potential employer or hiring manager that you can perform the duties and responsibilities of the position you want.

Read more: How to Use a Chronological Order Résumé (With Tips)

Structure

A significant difference between a chronological resume and a functional resume is the physical appearance. Your resume format dictates what information to include and how to position it on the document. With a chronological resume format, you typically start by listing your full name, contact information, and a professional summary at the top of the page. It then provides a section for you to write a comprehensive overview of your previous professional experience in reverse chronological order. The lower part of the document contains different areas highlighting your educational qualifications, skills, and certifications.

Functional resume formats use a different outline. They typically begin with your full name and contact information, then provide a section for you to outline your professional abilities and skills. You can write this overview as a paragraph, but it's advisable to use bullet points to make the work more organized and easier to read. You can also include information about your professional accomplishments, certificates, awards, and commendations in your list of skills. When using this resume format, you typically list your relevant work history and educational qualifications at the end of the document.

Related: How to Write a Resume "About Me" Section (With Examples)

Focus

Using a chronological resume format helps you focus on your experience, while using a functional resume helps you prioritize future potential. The chronological resume aims to provide a potential employer with how far you have come in your career. It highlights your growth and maturity by showing where you started from, how you advanced, and what you intend to achieve.

In contrast, a functional resume format focuses less on your accomplishments and more on your ambitions and plans for the future. Using this format portrays you as a skilled and competent individual with the potential to succeed in the position and company you want. The evidence of your value to the potential employer is the unique skill set you bring to the job rather than your practical experience. A functional resume helps you convince your potential employer that you have the required capabilities to meet the job requirements and be an asset to the organization.

Perception

Another difference between both resume formats is how employers perceive them. For instance, more employers are familiar with the chronological resume format and may regard a functional resume as incomplete and disorganized. In contrast, some employers may be more interested in seeing the skills and abilities of the candidate to function in a particular industry. As a result, they may disregard the chronological resume format that highlights experience in other sectors. Both resume formats can help a candidate in their application process, but their effectiveness depends on the specific requirements of the available position and the reader's attitude.

Related: 3 Resume Examples for Different Professional Levels

Which resume format is more appropriate?

Deciding between a chronological and functional resume format depends on various factors, especially how you want to present yourself to your potential employer. Here are some elements to consider to help you decide which format is more appropriate for you:

  • If you're a seasoned professional who wants to advance in the field, a chronological resume format can help show where and how you acquired your experience and expertise.

  • You can consider using a chronological resume if you have a more structured professional history and a defined career path.

  • If you started in an entry-level role and advanced your career in your preferred field, it's more beneficial for you to use a chronological resume.

  • If you have gaps in your career timelines and non-standard work history, it's advisable to use a functional resume.

  • You might have held multiple positions in different industries and want to apply for an entry-level role in another sector. Using a functional resume format can help shift your potential employer's attention away from the inconsistent professional history and help highlight your abilities and skills.

  • If you're a seasoned professional intending to make a mid-life career change, it may be beneficial for you to use a functional resume to help you highlight your skills and potential to succeed in your new position.

Related: Benefits of Using Manager Resume Examples to Create Your Own

Resume writing tips

Here are some helpful tips to guide you when writing your resume:

Draw attention to relevant achievements

It's advisable to use numbers and other measurable metrics, such as percentages to measure the effects of a particular achievement. You can also create different sections to highlight accomplishments in your education, volunteer activities, professional history, and other experiences. You can use action words such as performed, completed, directed, and monitored to demonstrate confidence.

Include only relevant sections and sub-headings

If you're using a recommended template or creating your own, include only sections and sub-headings relevant to your qualifications or the role. For instance, while it's essential to include a professional or work history summary, it's advisable to avoid using both. You can consider combining related sections if you don't have enough content to fill each section with more than two bullet points.

Read more: How to Write Effective Resume Sections (With Samples)

Use appropriate formatting

It's advisable to use a one-inch margin on each side of the document and single line spacing between the lines. You can consider using 1.15 or 1.5 line spacing if you don't have enough content to avoid leaving white spaces on the document. Ensure that you review the job posting to see if there are any formatting requirements for your application.

Related: What Is the Standard Canadian Resume Format? (With 7 Tips)

Chronological resume example

Here's an example of a chronological resume:

Janet Chavez
Calgary, Alberta
(315) 496-8213
janet.chavez@email.com

Professional summary
An exceptionally friendly and organized dental assistant with over three years of experience working with dental offices and clients.

Professional experience
Dental assistant
JK Hopkins Family Dentistry,
Calgary, AB, July 2019-Present

  • Prepared and clean treatment rooms

  • Prepared patients for dental treatment

  • Answered questions about dental issues, treatment, and procedures

Office assistant
E&H Dental, Calgary, AB, August 2017-June, 2019

  • Scheduled clients' appointments

  • Received patients upon arrival

  • Handled clients' paperwork and billing

  • Performed key dental assistant roles

Education
Certified Dental Assistant Program
Abbey Road Junior College, St. Albert, AB, August 2014–June 2016

Skills

  • denture impressions

  • dental board certification

  • minor oral surgery experience

  • X-ray certification

  • calming personality and demeanour

Functional resume example

Here's an example of a functional resume:

James Kennedy
Amherst, Nova Scotia
(361) 725-4890
james.kennedy@email.com

Professional summary
Customer service expert with over three years of experience resolving complex customer complaints. Passionate about increasing customer engagement, building strong customer relationships, and improving brand loyalty.

Areas of experience

  • complaint resolution

  • retail sales

  • service-based selling

  • data entry

  • fluency in French and Spanish

Skills
Service-based selling

  • Consistently surpassed application targets by 10% with innovative up-selling strategies

  • Led the development of an improved system for following up with customers, increasing customer retention by 15%

Process streamlining

  • Created customer service email guidelines used across the company to communicate with customers

  • Worked with a team to create an improved customer service representative training manual, reducing the training and onboarding process from six to four weeks

Complaint resolution

  • Answered over 20 calls daily from customers related to lost orders, delays in shipment, and order mistakes

  • Achieved 90% average customer satisfaction rating, exceeding the team goal by 20%

Professional experience
Customer service manager
Pinpoint Convenience, Amherst, Nova Scotia, June 2017-present

  • Managed customer relationships via phone and email to resolve inquiries and obtain payments

  • Established the customer referral program, leading to a 15% increase in the customer base in less than six months

Customer service representative
Polarity Telecommunications, Amherst, Nova Scotia, June 2015- May 2017

  • Resolved customer inquiries via email and telephone

  • Consistently exceeded targets, leading to a 10% increase in the customer base

  • Adopted pioneering processes to improve customer satisfaction

Education
BSc, Business Administration
Coral Springs University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia 2010–2014

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