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The Difference Between A Chronological And Functional CV

Published: Wednesday 20th May 2020

When it comes to the job search process, there are different methods you can use to get results and land your dream job. The same applies when writing and creating your CV. While you shouldn’t veer off and do something completely original, you can still differentiate yourself from competition with the formatting and layout. The most common CV formats for job seekers are chronological and functional.

Of course, each of these types is used for different purposes and in different situations. Therefore, when deciding which type of CV to use in order to be successful in your job search, you have to think about your current circumstances. Things to consider are both your background and the job you’re applying for. If you have a rich, consistent professional experience then a chronological format will serve you best. Moreover, pay attention to the description of the job you’re applying for. If it places heavier emphasis on skills and abilities, then a functional CV or a combination format may be more suitable in order to highlight what’s important to the employer. To get a better understanding of what the hiring manager values most pay attention to the requirements listed in the job description.

So, here are the differences between chronological and functional CVs to help you decide which one suits you best along with advice on when to use them.

Business man review his resume on his desk, laptop computer, calculator and cup of coffee, functional CV

Chronological CV

Chronological CVs are the most common formats employers see and are the easiest for most hiring managers to scan through. A chronological CV lists your experience and education in reverse time order, starting with the present or most recent. The layout contains a header, an objective or a summary statement of your professional highlights, a skills section, a work experience section which describes what you did in each role, and an education section. These sections are usually placed in the above-mentioned order; however, skills can also be included at the end of your CV, namely below the education section. Overall, a chronological CV assists employers in quickly understanding the value of your most recent and relevant work experiences. As hiring managers usually spend a few seconds on each job application, prioritising the most recent information ensures you’ll get noticed.

When To Use It

Chronological CVs are best for candidates with relevant background. Job seekers who have a history of relevant work experience in the field should use this format to show off their best qualities and knowledge. Furthermore, chronological CVs are suitable for candidates who have worked for several employers or clients in one industry or for those who have minimal or no gaps between jobs.

Top view of clipboard and white sheet written with CURRICULUM VITAE (CV) WRITING on wooden background. Business Concept.

Functional CV

Functional CVs are the second most common type of format, job seekers can use. They have similar information, but the information follows a different structure. A functional CV presents information by breaking it down into relevant job skills instead of by job title in a chronological order. Functional CVs include your skills by job function or expertise, and then a list of your jobs near the bottom of the document.

Functional Curriculum Vitae Layout

If the functional format is good for you, you then have additional options on how to go about designing it. After your contact details, you can start with a concise summary to provide employers with more context about you. For example, you can include primary experience -relevant to the job description-, skills and career goals. Then proceed with grouping your skills and abilities, finding common themes. When listing your skills, don’t forget to address those in the job description. It’s also important to include relevant examples or achievements as well as applying metrics wherever possible. In doing so, hiring managers will get a better image of the value you can bring to the role.

young man and girl sitting and working on laptop. Boy and girl happily looking at laptop, working or job searching

The next part should include any professional experience you have. Even if there are gaps in your work experience, including your work can be helpful for employers. It’s also a great way to emphasise on your transferable skills. Remember you don’t have to include dates, yet you can still add the workplace and the year, if necessary. Finally, at the bottom, list your educational background. Include the name of the institution, area of study, any relevant achievements and diploma received, if applicable. If it’s not relevant to the job or if it would bring up additional questions for employers, it may be better to leave it off, so consider whether including it would help position you as a strong candidate.

When To Use It

This type of Curriculum Vitae is great for applicants who are new to the field or industry they’re applying for. They are also suitable for recent graduates, or career changers. For example, if you have been unemployed, or switched industries or roles completely, a functional CV may be better. Additionally, you may combine the two formats to account for gaps in work history or address specific must-haves from the job posting.

Top Tip: If you’re struggling to decide which format to choose, try creating two CVs; one chronological and one functional. Once you create and finalise both versions, you can share them with a few trusted colleagues or friends for feedback. That way you can quickly learn which version stands out more.

For more top tips on CV writing, cover letter, job hunting and career progression visit our Career Advice Blog of follow Zoek on Twitter. Best of luck!

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