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Functional versus Reverse-Chronological Formats

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: April 27, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Although there are preferred formats for resumes, there is no perfect format – or perfect fit – for everyone.

Check out these popular formats and see which one is right for you.

Reverse chronological

Generally speaking, hiring managers prefer that employment data is provided with the most recent job listed first, followed by the next most recent, and so on.  In that way, it’s easy to see career progression from an entry-level position to a more senior status. It’s also easy to detect gaps in dates of employment.  It’s these gaps that cause candidates to select functional formats.


Functional formats stress what skills you have, rather than where and when you used them.  These formats are best for students who have just graduated from college and have little “real-world” experience; those who have been out of the workforce for long periods because they were raising children; or job seekers who are transitioning from one career or industry to another.  However, sometimes joining a functional with a reverse chronological format makes the most sense – these are called combination resumes.


With this format, skills that are relevant to the current job search are placed in a special section by function, while the Professional History or Work Experience is presented in a standard, reverse-chronological format. This format offers the best of both worlds, and is highly popular with job seekers and hiring managers.