Functional Resume vs. Chronological Resume

If you have a gap in your employment history then one of the tips that you’ve probably heard about is to consider using a functional resume instead of the more traditional chronological resume. The important thing to know before you do this is that there are some definite pros and cons to the functional resume. You have to weigh them against each other to determine if you want to go this route.


What is a functional resume?

A functional resume is set up in terms of skill-based categories. This emphasizes the various skills that you have gained from the different employment experiences that you have had over the years.

Benefit of a functional resume

The main reason that people are inclined to use a functional resume instead of a chronological resume is because it emphasizes abilities over the chronological history of your work life. Many people are in a situation where they don’t want an employer to look at their dates of employment. The most common reasons for this are:


  • Gaps in employment history. People who have been unemployed for long periods of time (whether that’s because of a layoff or a decision to go back to school or stay home to care for others in the family) face this problem.
  • Short-term stays at many jobs. If you tend to hop from one job to a next then employers are going to be wary about hiring you. As a result, you may want to hide this fact on a resume.
  • Frequent changes in type of job. You may stay at one job for a long time but then jump to another job that is completely different. This gives you a diverse set of skills that look great when presented in a functional resume but can seem too scattered on a chronological resume.
  • Short history of employment. If you’re young then you may have a short history of employment and you don’t want that to be what someone notices on your resume.
  • Long history of employment. In this tough job market older applicants are sometimes frowned upon so they may also elect to use a functional resume to hide their long history of employment.

Potential drawbacks of a functional resume

A functional resume may indeed be a great choice for people who are in one of those positions. However, there are drawbacks of using this type of resume instead of a chronological resume and you really need to look at those.


  • They aren’t the standard format. Because of this there are some hiring employers who aren’t familiar with functional resumes and it can turn them off to see a resume in an unfamiliar format.
  • They aren’t as easy to read as a chronological resume. Even hiring managers who are familiar with the functional resume may be turned off when they receive one because of the fact that they aren’t considered as easy to read (or skim!) as the chronological resume is. Employers in very traditional fields, such as finance, are particularly turned off by the functional resume.
  • There are stereotypes about people who choose to use this resume format. The most common reason to use this format is to hide employment gaps and so people who use this resume format may immediately be seen as trying to put one over on their employers. This doesn’t bode well for getting hired!
  • You may not even be able to use a functional resume if you’re loading your resume to an online job application. Sometimes the way that the loading system is set up simply won’t allow it.

Choosing the right resume

You’ll have to weigh these pros and cons to determine which resume is right for you. If you are strongly opposed to revealing your work history on a resume and are willing to take the risk of turning off employers then a functional resume may work well for you. If you’re entering a traditional field and filing applications online then you may want to stick with a chronological resume. One smart thing that you can do is to create the resume in both formats and use them both for different jobs to see what gets the best response!


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