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How to write a functional resume

writing a functional resumeThere are basically two types of resumes, Chronological, which I just taught you in the previous series (how to write a resume) and Functional.

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Then there are several hybrids where both formats are further arranged.

Writing a Functional Resume

In this section, I’ll show you how to easily create a Functional resume that highlights your experiences and accomplishments, while removing the spotlight from your Work History. I’ll also give you several reasons to help you figure out if a Functional Resume is right for you.

Introduction

A functional resume is a perfect way to mask all the negative aspects about your work history and just show employers all the good stuff about you, something that is much more difficult with a chronological resume.

A recent client of mine, Charles, told me he that retired at 40 years of age after a successful career in computer software sales. He left the work force for two reasons, 1) he could, and 2) he wanted to take care of his daughter over the next 10 years because she had a learning disability. Now he’s 50 and wants to get back into the workforce, not because he has to, but because he wants to remain active and he enjoys his profession.

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To do this effectively, Charles created a functional resume that highlighted his sales accomplishments. He listed all his sales awards for exceeding quotas. He wrote about how he increased sales from $11 million dollars to $43 million and he mentioned all his manager of the year awards. He pushed all his places of work, and terms of service to the bottom of his resume and he removed his college graduation dates.

Anyone reading Charles’s resume will quickly see that he is a top sales performer before they ever realize he has not been working for the past 10 years. Since he omitted his college graduation dates, and only shows 12 years of employment, they’ll probably assume he is only 42 years old instead of 50. Charles will not have any trouble making his phone ring with interview requests.

How to Determine if a Functional Resume is Right for You

We’ve just covered creating a Chronological resume in the first part of this guide, but it’s not always the best format for everyone.

A functional resume draws on your past experiences and accomplishments, both on the job and off, and presents your work experience by listing your most important skills while demonstrating how you’ve used them in a productive environment.

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Reasons to consider using a functional resume:

  • You want employers to see you for what you are and judge you by your skills, experience and accomplishments instead of your past job titles.
  • A functional resume will allow you to put your best foot forward and list everything you are good at doing near the top of your resume, and pushing all your job titles and places you’ve worked near the bottom of your resume.

 

  • You are changing careers and you need to emphasize your skills and demonstrate how they can be adapted to a different career choice while keeping a prospective employer from pigeon-holing you into your last job.
  • A functional resume will allow you to do just that, simply by giving you the flexibility to show them what you are good at doing and how you have applied your experience.

 

  • You are a parent who previously left the workforce to raise a family and now you are re-entering the workforce.
  • Again, a functional resume gives you the opportunity to show a potential employer what you do best, even though you may not have had a professional job for 15-20 years.

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  • You have valuable experience from a few jobs past that gets buried in a traditional chronological resume format and you need a resume to emphasize this experience at the top of your resume.
  • Sometimes your previous job experience is more valuable that what you are currently doing and a functional resume will allow you to focus on your most important skills.

 

  • You have a less than perfect job history record, holding several jobs in a short amount of time with many unemployment gaps.
  • In this case, a functional resume will allow you to list all the places you’ve worked and the dates near the bottom of your resume, thus masking a choppy work history.

 

  • You left your past job for any of the following reasons: travel, early retirement, medical reasons, cared for an ill family member, returned to school, etc., and now you are re-entering the workforce after several years of not working a formal job.
  • In this case, once again, a functional resume gives you the flexibility to highlight your experience and achievements while taking the spotlight off your work history dates.

 

  • You left your job to follow your dream and start a business that was not successful and you need to return to the corporate world.
  • In this case, a functional resume allows you to emphasize your experience and not your work history. In this case, it can work to your advantage to give yourself a title, other than President, and make it appear that you were just an employee if it is your intention to hide the fact that you were a self-employed business owner.

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  • Through no fault of your own, your chronological resume makes you look like an extreme job hopper and you need resume format to mask your many frequent jobs and employment gaps.
  • Once again, the functional resume allows you to only show what you are best at doing, while masking a choppy work history.

 

  • You’re a contractor who has been on multiple assignments for many different companies, and you have a large degree of valuable experience and accomplishments.
  • The functional resume gives you the perfect format to highlight all of your accomplishments and achievements all together.

 

  • You were laid off from a great job with great pay, but the due to the economy and current market conditions, you were forced to accept a “not so impressive” job of lesser pay and stature — thus you feel uncomfortable listing such a job as your most recent position.
  • In this case, a functional resume allows you to quietly mention your current and undesirable position at the bottom of the resume, while listing everything you are great at doing near the top.

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  • You’re a recent college graduate with little or no actual work experience, but you have gained experience through volunteerism, personal projects, and have valuable accomplishments to tout.
  • A functional resume allows you to group all of your non-work experience, and make it appear as though you have a great deal of experience, without even mentioning that you ever worked for anyone.

 

  • You are a career changer with transferable skills, like management, engineering, teaching, speaking, or sales and you are searching to work in a different sector.
  • A functional resume will allow you to do just that, simply by giving you the flexibility to show them what you are good at doing and how you have applied your experience.

 

  • You’ve held many jobs over the length of your career with the same or similar job titles and responsibilities and need to streamline your resume while minimizing duplicate work experience.
  • Instead duplicating the job responsibilities over and over for each of your jobs, a functional resume will allow you to list them once thus giving you additional space to focus on highlighting more of your accomplishments and achievements.

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If you feel that you fit into one of these categories, then creating a functional resume may be a better choice for you than using a standard chronological resume format. If you’re not sure, then you might consider creating both a chronological resume and a functional resume so you can get a better idea of which one suits you the best.

How to Write a Functional Resume

The only difference between a Functional Resume and a Chronological Resume is that we split our Work Experience section into two different sections. One section contains our experience and accomplishments and the other only contains the places we have worked.

As you can see from the Functional Resume template at the end of this section, a functional resume gives you the flexibility to prioritize your accomplishments and achievements in any way you choose. Now, you are no longer bound to the rigid chronological resume format, and you have the power and flexibility to show only your best skills, accomplishments, awards, and problems you’ve solved in any order you choose.

To get started,

• Write your Resume Heading as we did in Resume Lesson 1

• Write your Job Objective as we did in Resume Lesson 2

• Write your Skills Summary as we did in Resume Lesson 3

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• Create a Relevant Skills or Relevant Experience section
o Create two Skill Headings in your areas of expertise
o List your best accomplishments and achievements from Chapter 4
o Briefly mention where a few of your accomplishments took place.

• Write your Work History as we did in Resume Lesson 4, but only list the places you have worked and your title.

• Write your Education section as we did in Resume Lesson 5.

As you can see from the Functional Resume template at the end of this lesson, the Employment History section only lists the places you’ve worked, the dates you worked there, and your position. So if you have a choppy work history, a functional resume is a perfect way to push all your employment gaps to the bottom of your resume and move all the good stuff about you to the top, where prospective employers can see it first.

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To get started, create two Business Skill Headings that describe two of your best skills.

For example,

Skill 1: Budget Management

  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2
  • Accomplishment 3
  • Accomplishment 4

 

Skill 2: Purchasing

  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2
  • Accomplishment 3

If you’re at a loss for skill heading ideas, see the next section for a list of skill heading ideas. When writing your skill headings, you should always focus them on your job objective, not your current job.

Then write powerful accomplishment styled statements that show off your past skills and achievements as we did in Lesson 4, Professional Experience and Work History.

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You should already have created several achievement statements that are ready to use.
As you write your Relevant Skills section, it’s generally a good idea to say where your accomplishment took place or where you learned and practiced your skills.

Note: See Resume Lesson 6, Achievement Statement Examples for more help with creating achievement statements for your skill headings.

Business Skill Heading Ideas

Accounting
Accounts Payable
Administration
Advertising
Benefits
Budget Management
Client Relations
Community Relations
Consulting
Customer Service

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Inventory Management
Investor Relations
Leadership
Management Consulting
Marketing

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Education Skill Heading Ideas

Administration
Admissions
Classroom Management
Counseling
Curriculum Development
Parent Relations
Program Development
Engineering & Technical Skill Heading Ideas

Computer
Customer Support
Data Analysis
Database Management
Design
Development
Aerospace Engineering
Consulting
Director of Technology

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Functional Resume Template

Name
Street address, City, State, Zip
Best phone number
Email address

Job Objective: This is the job you want

Summary of Qualifications

  • A list of accomplishments that demonstrate your experience for this job.
  • Accomplishments that are measureable and quantifiable.
  • Statements that clearly demonstrate your expertise in your field.

Relevant Experience (or Relevant Skills)

First Major Skill

  • A statement that shows you have this skill and describes a measurable accomplishment you completed that is relevant to your job objective.
  • A statement that shows off this major skill as leader and a problem solver.
  • A statement that shows how you used your skill to improve something at your past job that resulted in reduced costs and increased company profits.
  • A statement that shows your achievements, as they relate to your job objective, and how you have been commended by your peers.

Second Major Skill

  • An accomplishment statement that demonstrates your skills as they relate to your job objective.
  • A statement that focuses on measurable results that you achieved or helped achieve.
  • Another accomplishment styled statement that demonstrates your Major Skills.

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Work History

20xx – present Job Title Company Name, City
20xx – xx Job Title Company Name, City
20xx – xx Job Title Company Name, City
19xx – xx Job Title Company Name, City

Education

College Degree, Major, 20xx (date is optional)
University or College, City, State

Industry Certification Initials – Spell out certification initials, 20xx (date is optional)
Next certification

In Summary

  • A Functional resume is a perfect way to mask all the negative aspects about your work history and just show employers all the good stuff about you.
  • The only difference between a Functional Resume and a Chronological Resume is that we split our Work Experience section into two different sections.
  • A Functional Resume is perfect for career changers and people who have an imperfect work history.
  • A Functional Resume gives you the ability to list your best accomplishments first instead of chronologically.

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That’s all there is to writing a Functional Resume. In the next lesson I’m going to show you how to write powerful statements using power words.

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to start at the beginning of this resume writing course, click the link below:

How to Write a Resume – Part 1

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by Don Georgevich

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