April 16, 2020

Let’s face it – there’s a lot of advice online about resume writing, and it’s not all good! One tip I would like to share is to ALWAYS use a chronological format when prepping a resume. Please do not send out functional resumes when applying for a job, they just don’t work!

What’s a functional resume?

A functional resume is a type of resume format that highlights skills and abilities, as opposed to putting your experience in chronological order. There are several articles that advise jobseekers to use this format if they have gaps in their professional experience, and about 20% of the resumes I receive follow this format.

On a functional resume, we typically see a bulleted list of skills and accomplishments grouped under certain categories, such as “leadership,” “change management” or “technical skills.” After a page or so of these bullet points we finally see a list of companies, job titles and dates of employment.

So what’s wrong with using this format? A recruiter’s objective when reading a resume, is to determine whether the candidate is a match for their current job opening. A functional resume actually makes it more difficult for a recruiter to see the match. Here are a few of the reasons why:


One of the most important factors in determining a match is industry experience, so when reading a resume, we typically jump straight to the experience section. A chronological resume will put relevant accomplishments and achievements under this section of the resume, but a recruiter reading a functional resume will often skip the skills and experience section altogether.

Facts vs. Opinions

A functional resume typically focuses on skills and abilities, which are really the jobseeker’s opinion of themselves. Most recruiters don’t put much weight on those opinions. Instead, we look for quantifiable accomplishments and achievements, preferably in chronological order.


A candidate may claim to have led the implementation of a new transportation management system or a warehouse automation project, but a functional resume makes it difficult for a recruiter to know when those projects were completed. If that experience was over 15 years ago, it may not be relevant to the current opportunity. A chronological resume makes it much easier for a recruiter to determine how recently certain projects and accomplishments occurred.

The Better Alternative

Look for articles on chronological resumes and follow that format, instead of a functional resume. A typical chronological resume starts with an objective and a brief summary of key skills, then goes straight to work experience. Under the experience section of the resume, we will find industry experience and accomplishments laid out in chronological order. That’s what we like to see!

You may have heard that a typical recruiter spends five seconds or less screening a resume. That’s only true if the candidate does not appear to be a match for their current job openings. If we see a fit, we will call you! The best way to make your resume stand out is to follow a format that makes it easy for the recruiter to see a match.

Contact Us

Looking for more resume writing or interview tips? Check SCLSearch.com for ideas, or take a look at our jobs page to see what opportunities we have available. Connect with us on LinkedIn. And let’s see if we can help you find that perfect opportunity in supply chain and logistics.

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