- Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 March 2020
There are three styles of resumes in use today: combination, functional and chronological. Each style has its strengths and weaknesses. The functional resume is most effective for individuals that want to emphasize what they know, and not where they’ve worked in the past.
Because a resume is like an advertisement, job seekers want to use a format that best highlights their job skills, and accomplishments. Each format has a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right resume depends on two critical factors:
- The amount, consistency, and depth of work experience accumulated so far in a career.
- How well the target job is aligned with past work experience.
The Functional Resume
This format emphasizes what the writer knows and what they’ve accomplished, rather than where they’ve worked. This allows the reader to see all of the skills, accomplishments, and qualifications of the job applicant presented in a logical fashion.
Immediately below is a complete listing of each section appearing in a functional resume. As each of the sections is reviewed, it will be clear this format does not include a listing of prior work history. At the end of this article, there are links to a sample document that can be downloaded for free.
Name / Contact Information
Like most resumes, this format starts off with a banner that includes the writer’s name and contact information such as street address, telephone number, and email address.
The next section is a table of the job seeker’s educational background. Many job listings provide both the “required” and “desired” level of education. If this information is deemed important by the individuals screening each applicant, then it’s better to place it upfront in the document. The applicant is either qualified or not qualified for a job.
Honors / Certifications / Licenses Held
The third section in this format contains a bulleted list of the certifications, educational honors, or professional licenses held. For example, a certified public accountant would include that accreditation in this section of the resume.
Careers Skills / Knowledge
The fourth section is a bulleted listing or table of the skills and knowledge accumulated over time. This section has a good deal of visibility on this document, so it’s important to take the time needed to make sure it accurately represents the knowledge possessed.
For example, if someone is looking for a sales position, they will want to emphasize skills such as sales training, P&L responsibilities, client development, and product management.
The next, and final, section of this resume should contain a bulleted listing of the most significant career accomplishments. Listing career achievements, skills, and knowledge upfront adds to the overall attractiveness of the functional format.
An example of a career achievement might look like:
Developed custom accounting application for use in startup business; reducing the number of accounting data reporting errors by 90%.
It might seem rather strange that a functional resume does not include a listing of where the applicant has worked in the past and the job titles held. As discussed in this next section, this can actually be a very big advantage to some job applicants.
The list below details some of the strengths of a functional resume:
- If the writer’s career path is not immediately apparent, this format can help conceal that perceived “problem.”
- If someone is new to the workplace, such as a graduating college student, then this format helps to highlight what is known, not where the person has worked.
- When there are employment gaps, this format can help to conceal this from the reader. Unlike a chronological resume, it isn’t necessary to outline where the writer has worked in the past.
- If the job applicant has changed jobs frequently, a functional resume can help hide what might look like job-hopping.
- Finally, since this format does not bring attention to job titles, it’s the ideal approach for someone that might be deemed “overqualified,” or is looking for significantly more responsibility.
Listed below is the major weakness of a functional resume:
- The big disadvantage of this format is the hiring manager might be looking for the very information this resume avoids. Unfortunately, this can make the hiring manager suspicious, so it’s important to make sure the advantages outweigh the disadvantages before selecting this format.
Functional Resume Sample
While the above information helps to explain the outline of this resume, it’s easier to illustrate how this information is applied with an example: Functional Resume Sample. This document can be used as a starting point, or template, when composing an actual resume.
Chronological and Combination Resumes
If the functional resume does not seem well-suited to a particular situation, there are two other formats to choose from. In fact, it’s a good idea to become familiar with both the chronological and combination resume formats before preparing or finalizing a resume.
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