Speed Up My Job Search

Functional resume better for older applicants?

  • Paul’s video on resume building prefers to use chronological vs. functional. In the case of someone having quite a lot of years of experience, wouldn’t a functional resume be more appropriate to avoid the “quick math” being done and then put into a “B” or “C” pile due to age (even though we know it is against the law to discriminate)?

    Paul Cameron

    Thanks for the question. I still firmly believe that chronological is significantly better. If you’re concerned about age discrimination, just list your most recent 10 to 15 years of experience on your resume, and don’t put a dates on your degrees. Anything you did 20 years ago is not very relevant to what is being done today. I was still using a fax machine to send resumes to clients back then, and actually had some clever tactics to make sure they saw my fax first! 🙂 But I don’t think a future employer would be interested in that skill.

    To seasoned HR professionals and recruiters like myself, our immediate assumption when we see a functional resume is that A, you’re hiding a gap, or B, you haven’t touched the skill we need you to have experience with in many years. So if we have another resume that lists what we need, and we see it’s recent experience, we will call that person first before we call you to try to figure out what you’re hiding. Does that make sense?

    Also, for more help with Age Discrimination, check out the video under the Interview Tab called “Discrimination: Age & More” for some ideas on how to minimize that concern.


    In my case, I was at the same privately held company for 15 years, so my resume would only show that firm and appear to be my only experience. Prior to that, I had 9 years at a corporate company and several years at a privately held manufacturing company. I’d like to show at least the previous corporate company. Would you recommend putting the corporate firm on the resume without any dates but detailed experience? Or put the prior two jobs as “additional work experience” with no dates or details?

    Paul Cameron

    I agree that you should show the prior company as well with details, then below that just “additional work experience” as you stated and include the company names and titles so they can see the industry experience that you have and career progression.

    Personally I think leaving the dates on the prior company as well is better because it shows a track record of stability across 2 environments. That will show 29 years of experience, but when they do the math, that puts you at about 50, no where near retirement age, but at the right age to step into a senior leadership role without question.

    As you’ll see through the program though, making calls and networking your way into positions will be far more effective than relying on your resume as your first point of contact. The calls and networking are a lot easier than most people think, and I include all the exact scripts you need in the “Calling Employers” video under the Search tab. I would recommend giving that a try, then the amount of experience listed on your resume will serve as backup/evidence of the skill level you’ve described on the phone.

    I hope that makes sense. Thanks for the question!

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