The Chronological Resume vs. the Functional Resume

Ask career service folks, Certified Professional Resume Writers, recruiters and human resources managers about resume styles and formats, and you are bound to hear a range of opinions. One debate that is likely to occur is over the use of what’s called chronological resumes versus functional resumes.

While both styles have their uses, most recruiters and HR managers would agree that functional resumes have fallen out of favor in recent years. But wait. Maybe we need to back up a bit and explain these two terms for those who aren’t familiar with resume particulars?

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An Overview:  The Functional Resume

Sometimes called the “skills” resume, a functional resume groups together a job seeker’s most dominant skills at the front of the resume usually in bullet point fashion. So they might list “project management” and then lay out supporting skills as well as related accomplishments. Toward the bottom, the functional resume would list positions held, company name and dates.

The Preferred Choice: The Chronological Resume

Most readers are probably familiar with chronological resumes. They start out with a summary paragraph and then go into the job seeker’s most current job, company name, dates, job duties and then accomplishments. This is then repeated with the second most recent job, then the third most, etc.

Flaws of the Functional Resume

On the surface, both resume services can be useful. Yet functional resumes today are problematic for a number of reasons:

  1. Functional resumes are viewed by HR and recruiters as a way to hide gaps in employment. Because this style of resume does not link job position with skills, it enables the candidate to showcase their relevant skills while hiding periods of unemployment. Many people who have been unemployed for several years will use the functional format for this reason. Unfortunately, the functional style itself has become a red flag of sorts for recruiters. Many will outright reject a functional resume.
  1. Functional resumes are not well received by scanning technology commonly used by today’s large companies. Rather than relying on fickle HR assistants, many companies today rely on software programs that scan resumes looking for particular keywords. These programs also scan for information in certain orders, such as company name, city, date, job duties, etc. The functional resume throws the scanners off, which may cause the resume to get filed away in the discard pile.
  1. Functional resumes are viewed as old-fashioned. Many years ago, this resume style was used by those in support positions. Such secretarial jobs tended to be the same regardless of employer. So rather than relisting the same set of job duties, the job seeker would simply list them once and then list the employers toward the end in chronological order.

For better or worse, the notion of doing the same job over and over again for different employers has fallen out of favor. As such the resume writing style that best showcased that notion has also fallen out of favor. We are all supposed to be improving with each new job! As such the functional resume reflects an old-fashioned way of thinking about work and career.

So now you know why it is best to avoid the functional style resume if you can. Next week, we are going to publish a post on what you can do for your resume writing if you have been unemployed for an extended period of time.

86 Keys Communications creates results-getting resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and related resume writing services for job seekers of every industry and experience level. Contact them today at


Tips for the Recent College Grad Resume

If you have recently walked down the aisle to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” with family and friends cheering you on, then congratulations! Now that you have completed college and earned your degree (the easy part!), it’s time to take what you learned from your university education and apply it to the world we all live in.

Of course, the world of work looks very different from the world of college, and judging from most of the student resumes I review, it doesn’t seem like much is taught in today’s college classrooms about resume writing.

Does Your Entry level Resume Reflect What You’re Capable of?

As a Certified Professional Resume Writers (CPRW), we receive a lot of resume service requests from recent college graduates. Many of these otherwise smart and savvy grads, it appears, have little knowledge about how to properly construct, organize and write resumes.

This is unfortunate because no recent college grad wants to be overlooked as an applicant because of an inferior resume that doesn’t really represent their capabilities.

Resume Writing Advice for the Recent College Grad:

  • College grad resumes should list their education, relevant coursework, school projects and such before their experience, assuming they have little to no relevant experience.
  • If you have significant work or intern experience, considering listing it first instead of your education. Relevant work experience trumps school projects every time.
  • If you have work experience that is not directly related to your degree (you waited tables, worked in retail, etc.) list that separately in a section titled “work experience.” Internships or work performed related to your degree should be listed first in a section titled “professional experience.”
  • Your college student resume should also include your computer skills, language skills, your quantifiable and qualitative skills, your character traits, etc.
  • Feel free to briefly list your extracurricular activities as the last line on your entry level resume.
  • With few exceptions, entry level and recent college graduate resumes should be one page in length.

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What to Omit from a College Grad Resume

When working with college students to write resumes, we frequently get asked the same types of questions about what to put on – and leave off — a resume. When putting together your job-winning resume, omit the following:

  • Your GPA, unless it is 3.5 or higher. College students are generally surprised to learn that most employers put very little emphasis on grade point average.
  • Your SAT score. See above.
  • Every course you ever took in college or every club you ever participated in. Please only include relevant courses, skills, and traits.
  • Your personal identifiers, such as your race, age, ethnicity, religion, gender, country of origin, etc. These types of characterizations were once common on resumes but today they are not permitted due to discriminatory statutes.

Other Concerns of College Student Resumes

It is worth mentioning here that your entry level resume is not the place to air or explain any disputes or issues you may have had earning your degree. If you have not yet been awarded your degree and are currently in dispute over this matter with the university, do not explain this on your resume.

Simply put the name of the degree you are earning and “Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2015” or something to that effect. Lying on your resume about having earned your degree, regardless of the rationale, will come back to haunt you.



Put Some Zest into Your Summer Job Search with Resume Services

Summer is upon us, and as June turns to July, and July to August, many people push the pause button on their job search because they believe, somewhat mistakenly, that hiring and recruiting slow down during the summer months.

Yet this isn’t quite true. Is summer the biggest month for hiring for most industries? Probably not. Do hiring managers, human resources professionals take vacations in the summer? Yes, some probably do. But that is quite a big difference from the old adage that says no one is hiring during the summer.

Use the Summer Slow-Down to Prepare Your Job-Winning Resume

Recruiters and Resume Writers may concede that hiring may slow a bit during the summer. But that by no means is the same as saying it stops.

In fact, sometimes recruiters looking to fill open positions have a harder time doing so during the summer months because there are fewer applicants during that time.  So if you are actively looking for a new job, whether employed or unemployed, don’t stop your job search – or your resume writing – just because it’s summer time.

If you are passively seeking a new gig, keeping your options open just in case a more suitable job opportunity presents itself, summer may be the best time to partner with resume writing services to create that job-winning resume.

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Resume Writers Know Your Career Doesn’t Rest, Even in the Summer  

Professional resume writing services are busy in the summer updating resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and more for clients who are in this passive job seeking stage. Whatever the season, resume writers and recruiters will tell you it is better to have a resume ready when you need one than to wait until the last minute to find a resume service.

In addition to considering resume writing services, summertime can be a great time to freshen up your skills, signup for an online professional development class, or just get updated on your industry. Fun summer networking opportunities abound.

So just because business may slow down a bit doesn’t mean your career can take a respite. Whether you are in need of professional resume writing services, job coaching, or need to learn new computer skills, summer time may in fact be your best time.


Do It Yourself or Hire a Resume Writer? A Closer Look at Your Choices

It is a question we get frequently as resume writers: Do I really need to hire a certified professional resume writer or is it okay if I just write my own resume? It’s a worthwhile question, and we understand why potential clients ask us this. After all, several years ago most people, aside from busy executives, probably wrote their own resumes themselves. Updating one’s own resume was sort of a rite of passage task similar to packing up your desk for a new job.

How Resume Writing Has Changed Over the Years

Fifteen years ago, searching for a job meant scanning the local newspaper’s help wanted section with a pen in hand. You’d probably submit your resume and cover letter via mail or fax and the receiver, an administrative assistant, would probably scan it and ready it word for word. Maybe a dozen or two people would apply for the same job, and, provided you met the qualifications, you had a good chance of landing an interview.

Things have changed a lot since those days, which is why resume writing services now are more of a necessity than a nicety. Today your resume is more likely to be scanned by a keyword software system rather than an actual a person. Lack the right formatting or keywords, your resume might be skipped despite your qualifications. Resume writers know how to incorporate the right keywords into your resume so it will tag as a match for what the employer is seeking.

When It Comes to Creating a Job-winning Resume, Why Take Chances

Moreover, many job openings today receive close to a hundred applicants meaning hiring managers have to take the time to sift through lots and lots of resumes. As such, they are looking for quick and easy ways to eliminate candidates, and an inferior resume serves this purpose well. Typos, spelling errors, hard-to-read sentences, and poor organization can get your resume tossed in no time.

Resume Writers Can Make Your Resume Pop

Even if your resume doesn’t have these obvious snafus, your resume writing must sing and sizzle rather than just state your work experience. Resume services for hire can help put together a resume that works as a marketing or sales piece capturing the reader’s attention, drawing them in and ultimately selling them on why you are the best candidate for the job.

So do you need professional resume writing services when applying for jobs? You might not need resume writing services in the same way you need water, food and shelter but hiring professionals who write resumes for a living will certainly give you a measurable advantage.

How to Choose a Resume Service?

Search for “resume writers” on any major search engine and you will receive more than 40 million returns. With so many options to choose from, how does a serious job seeker go about finding and hiring the right resume writer?

Before you put down your hard-earned money for resume services, consider what you are really looking for? Some resume writing mills out there seek to pump out as many resumes and cover letters as possible in the shortest period of time. With these outlets, you don’t really know who you are working with, what their qualifications are, or how long they have been writing resumes.  Though some sizable resume writing firms are legit, others hire college students or workers located overseas to churn out resumes as fast as they can.

Certification and Resume Writing Experience Matter Most
Since you want your resume to be written by a professional, it is a good idea to see if a Certified Professional Resume Writer will be working on your important job search document. Be sure to check the official site of the Professional Association of Resume Writers for legitimacy as some sites promise “certified” writers but lack the credentials.

Though certification is not absolutely necessary, consider hiring a pro who makes a career writing resumes. The certification, in part, shows the writer takes what they do seriously and likely earns their living creating job-winning resumes for clients. A college student who works on resumes on the side for some extra spending money may or may not be up to snuff for the job.

Decide How Much to Spend on Resume Writing Services

As with every purchase, cost matters so you should shop around to get an idea of what companies charge for resume services. We’ve seen prices as low as $20 for a resume to as high as $500 (really!). Yet spending more doesn’t always equate to a higher quality product. Both too-low and too-high price points should be viewed with skepticism as one points to a lack of experience and the other, well…too much ego perhaps.

Either way, experience level, certification, cost and results should each factor in to your selection of a resume writing service.