Chronological or Functional

The structure of your resume can play a big role in determining how effective it is. In our 2008 Benchmarking Survey, we found that approximately one third of all job seekers make the wrong choice.

There are four main questions you need to answer to select the right structure:

  1. Are you new to the workforce?

  2. Are you changing careers or staying in the same career field?

  3. How many different jobs have you had?

  4. Are you in a highly technical field?

If you are just entering the workforce, a chronological resume isn’t an option. You don’t have a history to detail chronologically. What you can do is provide information on you education and experience. This could include school activities, volunteer work and internships. Organizing this experience around key skills (or functions) will highlight your potential.

If you are staying in the same career field, a chronological resume is usually the best bet. Your background should show a natural progression towards the position you are seeking. You want to highlight this progression.

If you are changing career fields, your progression will not as strong a selling point. Instead, your skills and potential will make you stand out. This is where a functional resume can really help.

The number of jobs you have held can play a role in your choice. Individuals with long careers, independent consultants, and individuals that move from project to project may find that there are too many positions to do each justice. In this case, a functional resume can highlight your career achievements.

Finally, individuals, in highly technical fields where technical proficiency is more important than anything else, may find a functional resume highlights their experience best.