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Why Are Functional Resumes Becoming More Popular Than Chronological Resumes?

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

If we take a peek into the past, some ten years ago or even more, we’ll see that the functional resume was used only by a small fraction of job seekers. The format has had a bad reputation and was widely avoided. Instead, professional resume writing companies in the USA recommended chronological resumes. These were considered not only standard, but a must-have. Anyone opting for anything different was considered suspicious, for a number of reasons. However, the job market has evolved in the past decade, helping a functional resume become at least as popular as its chronological counterpart - if not more popular even.

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But the question you are asking yourself, "what are the primary benefits of using a functional resume?"

What Is A "Functional" Resume?

A functional resume focuses on what skills and abilities you have rather then your roles and responsibilities at each company you worked for. As an example, a functional resume can talk about what you are good at regardless of where you learned the skill. A chronological resume requires that you list your specific duties and roles under each company in reverse chronological order, leaving no room to showcase your true abilities.

Functional resume's differs greatly from the chronological one, because it does not show employment history the way a chronological would. Instead, the functional resume focuses on the candidate’s skills, competencies and achievements, through various positions he / she held. For quite a long time, it was widely believed that people used functional resumes only when they had something to hide – like job gaps or if they’re switching careers.

Why Are Functional Resumes Gaining Traction?

First, the depression of 2008 happened. It made a lot of people lose their jobs, and stay without work for a longer period of time. Further below, you will find an explanation on why this had an effect on how people submitted resumes.

The second thing is the drastic advance in technology, which enabled a whole new perspective on how we do work. Technology has, among other things, enabled a remote and mobile workforce. All of these things resulted in a popularity spike for the functional resume.

What is a chronological resume?

A chronological resume is, just as its name implies, a resume which sorts your professional history in a reverse chronological fashion. So, starting from your most recent job position, all the way back to your education, it lists where you worked, for how long, what you did there and, hopefully, what you achieved.

Such a resume places the emphasis on employment history, rather than skills or achievements, and has long been the most popular resume format, all over the world.

Functional resume is gaining popularity:

However, having a functional resume is no longer ‘raising eyebrows with employers’, as many people are suggesting. It has become almost a norm to use this type, for a couple of key reasons:

  1. Functional resume's are better tailored for the ATS System

  2. Functional resume's are faster to consume by the hiring managers

  3. Functional resume's are no longer used only by people trying to ‘hide’ something

Obviously, these are not the only reasons why people opt for a functional resume, but they are the most frequent ones. Nowadays, almost every large company (and even a significant portion of small and medium-sized businesses) has an ATS System installed. The Applicant Tracking Software, or ATS - is a piece of software which automatically scans incoming resumes, and discards all the irrelevant ones. It decides which resumes are irrelevant based on keywords and key phrases set up by the hiring managers in advance.

These keywords, as you have probably guessed by now, most frequently are your skills and achievements. With a resume that focuses on that perspective, it increases your chances of passing the ATS.

A functional resume is faster to consume, too. When employers decide to bring in a new member to the team, it is mostly because they have a problem and they need someone who can solve it. By highlighting what you can do, and what you have done in the past that might prove useful, the employer can make his / her decision much faster.

Using a functional resume to hide employment gaps:

Sure, people have been using it for this purpose for a long time. But today’s job market has changed to such an extent that this is no longer valid. Job hoppers are very common nowadays, and people going without work for an extended period of time either to travel or to start a family is also no longer considered rare.

All things considered, we can see why you should choose a functional resume over a chronological resume. It emphasizes the same things as the ATS System does – the keywords and search phrases – which has become essential in modern-day job seeking.

It makes it easy for employers to consume, saving them precious time and helping them make their decision easier and faster. And finally, the above two elements combined have created an atmosphere in which a functional resume is no longer used only when people are trying to hide things. As a professional resume writing company, we can easily recommend crafting a functional resume. So what are you waiting for?

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