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Functional Resume

Functional resumes emphasize your abilities, such as managing, hiring, supervising, or coaching. Developing a strong functional resume takes some time, however this type of resume allows you to give prospective employers a good look at what you’re made of.

Ideal for Highlighting Professional Experience

Most workers are familiar with chronological resumes: These put a spotlight on work experience, and they are often preferred by hiring managers and HR professionals. Even so, some companies don’t like to receive chronological resumes, preferring combination resumes, functional resumes, or Cvs instead. Whether this is true of the company you are applying to, or if you feel that a chronological or combination resume just won’t do the trick, consider using a functional resume.

When to Use a Functional Resume

A functional resume highlights professional experience, education, and desirable skills. It allows you to package yourself for sale to potential employers, presenting yourself in the best light possible. Consider using a functional resume if any of the following situations apply to you:

  • You recently graduated and have no formal work experience. If this applies to you, it’s likely that you have skills that will appeal to potential employers. A chronological or combination resume won’t work for you, as you have no work history to list.
  • You’re concerned about job-hopping in your work history. Whether by choice or by chance, you’ve held lots of jobs in the past, and many of them didn’t last long. Employers are often leery of job-hoppers; while you certainly don’t want to lie about your work history, it’s best to place emphasis on skills, education, and other positives.
  • You’ve been out of the work force for a while. Stay-at-home moms and dads, people who have taken time off to care for ill or aging relatives, and those who have suffered the effects of recent recessions often have plenty of skill, but lack recent work experience to place on a chronological resume. If you’ve been out of work for a year or longer, a functional resume may be the perfect choice for you. At the same time, consider a combination resume if you had a steady employment record before the incident that took you out of the work force.
  • Your work experience matches your target position, not your current job. A functional resume may be a good choice in this situation, however a combination resume might be as effective or even more desirable. Make a careful decision or consider creating both resume types and field-testing them to see which one gets better results for you.

Key Elements of a Functional Resume

Functional resumes feature strategically grouped key skills that demonstrate your expertise and highlight your qualifications. Because a functional resume is skills-based, it allows you to place emphasis on your strengths while decreasing focus on a flawed employment record. Choose which elements to include as applicable.

  • Job objective. What is your employment objective? Keep it brief.
  • Personal profile. A short summary that introduces you to potential employers and entices them to keep reading.
  • Skills summary. A list of the skills you possess. Focus on including only those that apply to your job objective.
  • Professional experience section with tailored skills groups. If you are applying for a desirable management position with an international sales firm, you’d want to group skills together to place emphasis on what you have to offer. Example groups in this instance might include those with headings such as “Foreign Language Fluency / International Business Experience,” “Sales and Marketing Expertise,” and “Team Building / HR Expertise.” Relevant accomplishments and skills are placed beneath each heading.
  • Education, on-the-job training, and academic background. Showcase your knowledge by including as much pertinent information about your education as possible; keep entries concise to ensure readability.
  • Experience working in another industry, country, or job function. Highlight flexibility if you believe it will improve your chances of winning an interview.
  • Employment history. Include a short employment history if applicable, listing only positions held and dates. Be cautious of excluding this section unless you have held no jobs in the past; and ensure you list dates, even if they only include the years you worked at a certain job, i.e. 2012-2014.

A functional resume works best when it’s matched to the job you are seeking. Put your best foot forward, decide which personal selling points are strongest, and focus on those. Finally, be prepared to talk about your employment history during the interview process; a functional resume is designed to attract attention to your skills and get your foot into the door. Once you’ve got a hiring manager’s attention, you will need to address any potential concerns while convincing an employer that you’re the right person for the job.

Ready to write your own functional resume? See examples and view functional resume templates here.