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Functional vs. Chronological CV

By tek ·
I am a senior level consultant, twenty progressive years, cross industry, with upwards of 30 significant roles that are worth mentioning on a CV -- which of course leads to a 15page document that would end up doing little more than making a pleasant'thunk' sound as it is tossed into a round file.

I have created two CVs - one functional, which I like a great deal, in the format of
page 1 - buzz-phrase info & chronologic layout of primary employers
page 2 - 7 functional areas with 2-3 supporting, strongly worded anecdotes of experience
page 3 - personal, education, etc

The other is a three page, chronologic layout of where I have done what I have done, which of course touches only lightly on project roles, which have juxtaposed levels of seniority (as is the typical case with senior resources moving from program mgmt to enterprise arch to strategic planning) and which does not indicate the progression of seniority, imo, as well as the functional CV does.

The problem I haveis that I have received a great deal of advice telling me to stick with the time-based CV and to shelf the functional -- but I love the functional, feel it 'sells' me more strongly, and as a manager who has done the hiring thing before, impresses memore with what I have done.

Advice? Directions? Experiences of failure getting what you want with a functional resume?

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Agree Functional vs. Chronological CV

by Coach In reply to Functional vs. Chronologi ...

As a project manager, change manager, senior level SAP consultant and executive coach, with significant cross-industry experience, I've had the same problems you've described, and unfortunately, I have yet to discover a truly satisfying solution.Like you, my preference is strongly for the functional format - it is much clearer, simpler, shorter, easier to read and understand - and, consequently, I believe does a much better job of selling my services. Yet, I'm often asked for a chronological resume instead.

When I do provide a chronological formatted resume, I find that the readers often miss key points and actually find it much more difficult to understand - but, the format fits their expectations.

The only solution I've found is to maintain both formats. (It's amazing how often, when I've submitted a functional resume I get a request for a chronological one -- and yet, when I submit a chronological one, I frequently get a request for a more targeted functional one).I, too, would like suggestions, advice regarding how to solve this dilemma (and administrative nightmare).

Sue White
Strategic Business Coach & Project/Change Manager

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by tbumpus In reply to Functional vs. Chronologi ...

Your first misdirection is attempting to include TOO MUCH information in your document. The rule of thumb is to go back in time 10 years or to your degree, whichever comes first. Information older than that is probably not relevant to the market today. You can always put a small blurb at the end of that ten years that states "Complete career chronology for 19XX - present available" Be brief, but descriptive. Avoid redundancies. Use a Project Addendum that is a separate document to give more indepth info on projects. Utilize tight writing style (similar to copywriting).

Avoid the functional - most employers dislike it and with a progressive work history, it's not the correct style. Functional is generally used to "disguise" a spotty work history or other problems in the past. Functional styles generally are a red flag to hiring managers.

Leave out the personal. It's not included on a resume. If you are really talking about a CV (a different type of document than a resume), thenlength is not an issue in the first place.

See our article "Top Ten Mistakes Made on Do It Yourself Resumes" at

Hope that helps!
Tracy Bumpus
Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)
Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC)
Austin, TX

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by tek In reply to length/format

>>> Functional is generally used to "disguise" a
>>> spotty work history or other problems in the
>>> past. Functional styles generally are a red
>>> flag to hiring managers.

See, I just don't get that... my layout is as follows:
p1: name, 1/2 page about me, my abilities, marketing stuff and all that and 1/2 page listing all employers & titles & promotions in chrono format
p2: 7 prime functional areas, each with a couple of strong descriptive bullets
p3: education, address, etc. personal like visa status, marital, etc (I am in the UK and personal is still something generally used)

This clearly shows my work history is NOT spotty, shows the 7 key areas of expertise that I bring, ranging from architecture to program mgmt to business development and lays them out in a way to depict clearly the level at which I work.

How can that be so wrong?

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Stay functional

by orrinwhite In reply to Functional vs. Chronologi ...

Your resume should be on just one page. I'm convinced that very few will read it anyway.
If possible it should be entirely buzz. Two reasons: You're obviously overqualified and you're not young anymore. In addition, spell everything out and don't do anything visually pleasing.

Save the Trees,

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