Functional resumes

Published: Mar 10, 2009

Topics: Career Readiness       Resumes & Cover Letters       

Functional resumes allow you to focus the readers on your lists of skills and achievements (those same ones we've been talking about for the last few pages) while taking the emphasis away from the job titles, places and times these skills were acquired. The jobs are de-emphasized, single-spaced and shunted towards the bottom of the document.

Since the chronological resume is the most common form, employers expect to see that form when they look at a resume. When they don't see a chronological resume, they wonder why the applicant isn't using that format. So use the functional resume only if you meet one of these requirements.

  • My work experience and accomplishments are primarily from freelance positions.
  • The work experience I'd like to highlight is from a volunteer position.
  • I have had more than a year of unemployment since finishing my education.
  • My most recent position is nothing to brag about.
  • My career history is uneven.
  • I'm trying to switch careers.

If you decide to use a functional resume, make sure you're prepared to answer questions about gaps in your experience or places of work. And don't wait for the interview to prepare. An employer might ask you about the information the first time he or she calls you, and you need to have an answer ready.

Skill lists

While a functional resume offers much more freedom in presenting your attributes than the chronological, that doesn't mean you can present all of your skills in a random collage. Your skill list should be as organized, divided, and bulleted as the work history in the chronological resume. You must divide your work experience into categories that best describe what types of skill base you've accumulated.

This is the perfect opportunity for those switching careers or using volunteer positions to play up the fact that they've attained the skills required for their desired position. The key is to figure out what skills the position requires and what the company is looking for in an employee. Then, create skill groups to match. Even if you feel you only have one type of experience, analyze that experience until you can subdivide your achievement statements into its basic parts and present yourself as a multi-talented, multifaceted worker.

Functional resume employers

After you list your skills and achievements, you still have to list positions you've held. This section should begin below the relevant experience section. List (on one line per job) the date of the position, the title of the position, and the name of the company worked for. As long as you put the date at either the beginning or end of the information, the order does not matter.

Here's a tip: Put the information you would most like readers to know on the left side of the page, where they are most likely to read it. Put information you would least like them to know on the right. If there are no unemployment periods of more than a year in your work history, put the dates to the left; if you have been unemployed for more than a year, put dates to the right.