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Resume Tips
Functional or Chronological?

There are three basic types of résumés--reverse chronological, functional, and a combination of the two.

A reverse-chronological résumé arranges your experience and education in chronological order with the most recent dates first. One of the most frequent questions I am asked as a résumé writer is, "Do I have to list all of my jobs? It makes me look so old!" My answer is always, "No, you don't have to list every single position you have ever held. The trick is to pick and choose the ones that are relevant to your objective." You can also eliminate low-level positions and positions that duplicate later experience.  Relevant is the keyword here!

More than half of the résumés on this site are reverse-chronological, but that doesn't mean a different type of résumé might not fit your needs better. This section will show you what is possible with a functional résumé in case that style better fits your needs.

A functional résumé organizes your work experience by the functions you performed regardless of date. The functional résumé highlights your skills and potential instead of your work history. It allows you to play down gaps in your experience and is especially good for those people entering the job market for the first time. If you are reentering the job market, for example, after raising children, this type of résumé also allows you to list volunteer experience and community or school activities.

List your functional paragraphs in their order of importance, with the items listed first that will help you get the particular job you are targeting. Refer to the 12-step résumé writing process for ideas on how to rearrange your résumé sentences to better capture your reader's attention.

You should know that there are very rare times when I would recommend a purely functional résumé, however. In the 1980s, true functional résumés developed a bad reputation because applicants were not listing where they gained their experience. It made recruiters suspicious that the applicant was trying to hide something, and they normally were. A combination functional/chronological résumé will avoid this problem. Always list a brief synopsis of your actual work experience at the bottom of your functional résumé with your title, employer, and the dates worked.

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