March 8, 2010 | Barb Carr

Career Development: Should your Resume be Chronological or Functional?

There are two basic formats of a resume. Since an employer will spend less than 30 seconds forming an initial impression of a resume, it’s important to know which format is best for you. The two formats are chronological and functional.

A chronological resume lists each previously held position in order by date with the most recent position listed at the top of the resume. A chronological resume is best for a person who has:

  • a focused career path
  • no significant gaps in employment
  • a steady advancement in his or her career path

Sometimes people decide to change careers or take time out from a career to raise a family or retrain. A functional resume is a better fit for that type of person. A functional resume emphasizes specific experience and is not listed in date order. The experience, training or volunteer work the person has that qualifies him for the position he/she is applying for would appear at the top, even though it is not the most recent. A functional resume is best for a person who has:

  • just graduated from college
  • little or no work experience
  • large gaps in employment
  • worked in a variety of fields

Remember, the point of a resume is not to get a job, but to get an interview. Your experience and training should be listed in a way that will catch an employers interest long enough to call you for more information. The format you choose could very well determine whether you get the interview!

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