When is it appropriate to use a functional vs. a reverse chronological resume?
First let me start by explaining that a reverse chronological resume is what you see when you look at a typical resume. It starts with your most recent position and goes backwards with a description of each job. A functional resume is a list of all of your skills done with bullet points of your skills listed at the top and a breakdown of your past employers listed at the bottom with simply your employer, title and dates and no description under each position.
So what type of resumes do employers prefer?
Hands down, reverse chronological resumes are preferred by recruiters and employers alike. The problem with functional style resumes is that it is impossible to tell what type of work you did for each specific position. Interestingly though, that is also the good thing about functional style resumes if you are looking to switch careers.
Functional resumes are good for three types of people:
1) Recent college graduates who do not have much work experience
2) People who are looking to transition out of one field into another
3) People who have a lot of movement on their resumes
Even though employers strongly dislike functional style resumes, they are very useful for recent college graduates. When you have recently graduated, you often do not have specific work experience, however, you do have skills that you acquired during school that you can list on your resume under the functional style.
The same is true for people who are changing careers. You might not have specific work experience in your target field, but you may have similar knowledge from your past position which you can list under your “summary of qualifications” at the top of your functional style resume.
As for people who have movement on their resumes (ie. switching jobs every 1-2 years), functional resumes can be a good way to cover 10 years of experience where you might have had 7-10 jobs. If you are someone who has a lot of movement on your resume, the best thing you can do is try to get a good position and stay there for at least 4-7 years to get some stability on your resume.
In general, unless you are a recent college graduate or changing professions, I strongly recommend using a reverse chronological style resume. You can find numerous resume templates online or you can use “resume wizard” in word to find the template that works best for you.
Happy resume writing!