Recruiter Insights

Functional vs Chronological Resume

Dear JobsBlog: I have 10+ years of experience. I don’t want to be disqualified for being overqualified. Should I create a chronological or functional resume?

This is always a tricky question.  You’ve had an impressive career, worked your way up through the ranks – and want to highlight this on your resume.  However, when a hiring manager looks at your resume, it’s all about “What have you done lately?”

Experienced professionals often opt for a functional resume – one that highlights types of experience first and provides a list of their employment history toward the bottom without any supporting information. This is a great way to bring to light what you have accomplished. Recruiters and hiring managers want to connect the dots to figure out what you’re doing now and the relevance of your experience. Plus, we want to see how you’ve advanced along the way.

Here are some tips to bring the ‘cream’ to the top and provide enough information to help you get your foot in the door:

  • Include a short summary at the top highlighting your most impressive career achievements.
  • Use a traditional reverse-chronological resume format that provides detail around the roles and responsibilities you have had over the past 5-10 years.
  • List your employment history, including title, company name and years you worked there for everything beyond the past 5-10 years.
  • Include a section that discusses side projects or hobbies you enjoy, especially ones that have increased your knowledge base and enhanced your professional experience.

Notice I recommend: 5-10 years.  Where you choose to make the cut-off is up to you and will likely depend on your profession and how many companies you have worked for.  If you’ve only been at one or two companies during the past 10-15 years, then you should stick with the reverse-chronological format and provide as much detail around your roles, responsibilities and promotions as possible.

Review the posted job descriptions of roles you’re applying for. Make sure your resume includes all of the relevant experience being sought by the employer.  Remember: Recruiters only know what you’ve told us on your resume, until we talk with you and learn more. It’s important that your resume line up as closely as possible to the job requirements.

These tips are meant to be a guideline, not an absolute rule. The job of recruiters is to discover top talent as quickly as possible. We get lots of resumes, so help make this easy.  Show us who you are in your resume in an organized, simple, yet detailed way, so we are excited to reach out and learn more about you.

Get started: Refine your resume and visit Microsoft Careers, where you’ll find job opportunities around the world.