QUESTION: Which resume format should I use? Functional? Chronological? Something else?

Kelly Donovan, Kelly Donovan & Associates

Most recruiters don’t like functional resumes, and they don’t work well with employers’ Applicant Tracking Systems. A reverse chronological or “combination” format is better (“combination” combines the best of the functional and reverse chronological approaches). Talk about what you’ve accomplished in each role. You can still have an impactful top section highlighting your brand and key successes.

Angela Watts, MyPro Resumes

For most professionals, a chronological format is optimal. Recruiters and hiring managers prefer this format because they can quickly find key screening details. A functional resume can raise a red flag that you lack qualifications or experience for the role. If you need to convey transferable skills, consider a hybrid with a robust summary section followed by a chronological employment section.

Lisa Rangel, Chameleon Resumes

A job seeker should always use a reverse chronological resume for many reasons. As a former recruiter, I can confirm that functional resumes don’t work well with ATS at all. Only candidates with non-linear backgrounds use functional formats—so by using this format, you actually bring attention to what you are trying to downplay. Lastly, recruiters don’t like functional formats.

Grant Cooper, Strategic Resumes & Business Plans

The functional resume became popular decades ago as a solution for hard-to-explain job gaps, for “job-hopping” issues, and for those with scattered backgrounds. With limited exceptions, the functional resume is no longer in favor with hiring managers. Today’s best practices call for a concise combination format resume that includes a functional summary in combination with a chronological section.

Robert Rosales, EZ Resume Services

The chronological format is the best format. A chronological format organizes your information so that it can be easily read by ATS systems. Resumes with a functional format confuse ATS systems eliminating you from consideration – regardless of your qualifications. Once you pass the ATS test, the chronological format allows a human reader to quickly scan and understand your qualifications.

Louise Duffield

A chronological resume is the best format to use if your career history represents a stable, solid career progression that has stayed similar in terms of industry & role. If you are looking for a mid-career change, a functional resume allows you to focus on your skills and achievements, however, this style may not be welcomed by recruiters as it is often seen as a way of covering up career gaps.

Brenda Bernstein, The Essay Expert LLC

Most job candidates are best served by a chronological format. However, sometimes there’s something important you did a long time ago that you want to list first. In that case, you might use a hybrid format, where you write a simple list of your positions and dates before going into your job detail. This way the reader knows you’re not hiding anything but you can organize facts creatively.

Karen Bartell, Best-in-Class Resumes

A functional resume conceals gaps in work history by highlighting skills and abilities while obscuring job chronology. It can be a “red flag” to hiring managers. A chronological resume showcases work experience without highlighting features that make you a strong candidate. I suggest the “Hybrid” resume format: it combines chronological work experience with marketable assets to make you a winner!

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