Functional vs. Chronological Resumes

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter explains when to use a functional résumé.

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I’m Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. I’m referred to as The Big Game Hunter because I hunted down leaders and staff organizations for 40+ years. One of the classic debates in job hunting, and with most recruiters, I must admit, as well, is chronological or functional. Chronological or functional?

Now, the reason for the debate is that many employers look at a functional resume and they want to know the dates because they believe that the job hunter isresume obscuring a gap in their background or the fact that the work that’s being highlighted so dramatically is something that they did 10,15, 20 years ago that no longer has any relevance, or any fundamental purpose in the individual’s real experience base. I’m not defending it. I’m just telling you how it is.

However, you know, this weekend, I was thinking I was going, ‘Is there a purpose to having a functional resume?’ I finally came up with a circumstance where it definitely is. And that is for the person who’s gone back to school, who wants to illustrate that they have certain experiences that are relevant, but the fact is, they went back to school. It’s not going to be hidden.

So you may lay out your academic background at the beginning of the resume at the very top, then you go into all the functional data right below it. And then beneath it, you have your employment history, which allows the employer to see you’re not trying to hide anything. If anything, you’re laying it out very clearly for them. But the date isn’t the thing that’s in the way right away. They’re able to see right off the bat that you went back to school to get certain experiences and now you’re trying to combine these two into a career going forward.

Again, what you want to be doing is demonstrating how your school experience and your previous employment history allow you to be qualified for this position that you’re seeking out and for you, I think a functional resume will work like a charm.

The same may be true for people who are still in the workforce, who who have gone for, for example, an executive MBA. You’re laying out what you did in the Executive MBA Program. You’re laying out certain things from your professional experience in a functional way that allows a firm to see much the same sort of thing.

But for most of you, you’re going to be seen as being a BS artist trying to hide something, other negative qualities for using a functional resume. And for you don’t use it.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. He is hired to provide No BS Career Advice globally. That can involve job search, hiring staff, management, leadership, career transition and advice about resolving workplace issues. Schedule a discovery call at my website,

He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2500 episodes.

I do a livestream on LinkedIn, and YouTube (on the account) Tuesdays and Fridays at 1 PM Eastern. You can send your questions about job search, hiring better, management, leadership or to get advice about a workplace issue to me via messaging on LinkedIn or in chat during the approximately 30-minute show.




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