While not as popular as the chronological resume, the functional resume continues to gain respect from job applicants and resume writers. This is primarily due to its ability to resolve many common problems that today’s job-seekers face.
If you have employment gaps or similar issues that might mar a chronological resume, then this option may be the solution you need. Naturally, though, you’ll need to know how to write this type of resume format before you can successfully use it in your job hunt.
With that in mind, here are some simple tips that can give you greater insight about how you can develop a functional resume that works for your unique needs.
Why Would You Need a Functional Resume?
There are many reasons why a functional resume might be right for you. The most common reason for using this format is in cases where your work history is spotty or otherwise less-than-stellar. It can also be option for those that are going into an entirely new field or industry and really lack any relevant work experience. (Example : From Nursing to Accounting)
Thus, if you’ve had significant employment gaps that are difficult to explain in a standard chronological resume, then the functional resume might be a better option. It can also help if you’ve been absent from the workforce for several years – as might occur if you were taking care of a sick relative or raising small children.
The functional resume allows your actual work history to take a back seat to the skills that you can offer to your prospective employer. Rather than focusing on a simple list of jobs you’ve held, this format gives priority to a section that emphasizes your job skills. That can enable a hiring manager to quickly confirm that you have the requisite skills needed for the job at hand.
With that said, a functional resume format should really be your last option. Many hiring managers are suspicious of a functional resume format because it means there are many gaps in your employment or you have little experience. If you have a couple of gaps in your resume you can still use a chronological resume format.
We wrote a great post on how to deal with employment gaps on a resume here.
Functional Resume Format Template:
6 Steps To Writing A Functional Resume
Step 1 : Contact Info - Where Can I Reach You?
It seems like a silly question, but it’s one of the first things many hiring managers notice. Did you include the basic contact information he or she will need to call you in for an interview? If not, your resume may get set aside right away.
At the top of your resume, you should include your name, city/state, phone, email and possibly a link to your LinkedIn profile. Yes, it’s simple – but even the small things matter when you’re applying for a new position.
Remember that you don't need your full address on your resume as it some companies may not even open it due to privacy issues. You also don't need to label each piece of information (Tel, Email), it's clear to the hiring manager which is which.
Step 2 - Resume Summary on Functional Resume?
Forget the debate about resume summaries; use one. After your contact information, include a resume summary that highlights your skills, accomplishments, and goals in a creative and informative way. The goal is to use this “elevator pitch” section to quickly sell yourself to the hiring manager and entice him to read the rest of the resume.
This is especially important with a functional resume as you don't have enough relevant experience. This is a good way to catch the employers attention and let them know about some of your soft skills and why you'd be a great fit for the job.
Step 3 - Lead with Your Skills
Up to this point, the functional resume begins much like the chronological resume. Here is where it diverges, however. Instead of going right from the summary to your work experience, you need to follow it with a summation of your relevant skills.
This is the section where you list all relevant skills, in bullet point form. Of course, there’s a little more to it than that. After all, a simple list of skills would be pretty boring, and might cause the employer to wonder whether you were just telling him what he wants to hear.
To be more enticing, you need to list those skills, and describe how they were used in your previous jobs. You can list achievements that you’ve accomplished with those skills. Demonstrate that they have actual real-world value that can benefit your prospective employer too. Begin with the most relevant skills and include transferable skills that are considered useful in all jobs.
These tips can help to focus your writing:
Use the keywords included in the job posting. That can help to keep your focus on what the employer wants rather than on what you want to say.
Use action verbs when describing your skills and achievements. Action verbs are great for communicating in a way that captures the reader’s attention.
Use numbers when describing how your skills achieved results in the past. Hiring managers are interested in what you can add to the company’s bottom line.
Don’t waste time with negligible skills. For example, don’t mention that you know how to use email, Microsoft Word, or similarly common skills, unless they are specifically listed in the job posting.
Be direct and honest, but don’t be afraid to sell yourself with confidence.
Step 4 - Listing Your Work History
With the skill section done, you can create your work history listing. You’ll want a list of the positions you’ve held at different companies, in reverse-chronological order. Include the company name and location as well. If you have a gap of more than a year, you may just want to include the years you worked at each firm. That can help to make those gaps less noticeable.
Step 5 - Educational Accomplishments
This section will list your educational background. If you have a fairly solid work history with only a few gaps, you can generally list education after your employment details. On the other hand, if you’re a recent graduate or have a really spotty work history, then you might even want to list your education section right after your skills. You should do so especially if educational criteria are prominently mentioned as requirements for the position. Use your best judgment.
Step 6 - Other Interests (Optional)
You don’t have to include a hobbies and interests section in your resume, but many now do. Smart hiring managers aren’t just looking for people who can perform rote tasks; they’re looking for personalities who can fit within the company’s existing culture. Your skills are part of that fit, but so too are the things that make you the well-rounded person that you are.
After all, it’s that person that everyone at the company will end up dealing with on a daily basis if you’re hired. If you have interests and hobbies – or memberships in industry-related or volunteer groups, feel free to talk about them here.
The functional resume can be a powerful way to connect with a potential employer, but it takes a steady hand to write one that can capture a hiring manager’s attention.
These tips can help you to get started with that process, but the best results really do require the experience that only a professional can provide. If you need help crafting the perfect functional resume for your job-seeking needs, contact us for more information.
Thanks for reading and good luck with your job search!
The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.