What Is a Functional Resume?

what is a functional resume

You could be stepping into the job market for the first time, or you’re just ready for a career change and want to revitalize your resume. Whatever the reason, you may have found that there are numerous ways to format your resume. You’ve discovered that there are reverse-chronological, functional, and hybrid formats and you’re not sure which one to use. 

To add to the confusion, there are job tips and resume writing services advertised all over the internet. If an application requests a portfolio, you might really be feeling overwhelmed. It’s best to start with the basics and determine the best way to format your resume

The purpose of a resume is to showcase your professional skills and achievements. With this in mind, you can start to research which resume format is right for you. Reverse-chronological is the most popular format, but it may not be right for your circumstances. Functional resumes, on the other hand, showcase your skills rather than your work experience. While they are not as popular, they can work in your favor if done correctly. 

How to Layout a Functional Resume

Because work history is not as heavily emphasized in a functional resume, people who have large gaps in their employment history or are re-entering the workforce could benefit from using this format. Those who have had to change jobs frequently or are looking to shift into a new field or career path will also find this format helpful. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when creating a functional resume:

Familiarize Yourself With the Structure

Once you have a solid understanding of the outline of your resume, you can then fill in the blanks to suit the style. The basic outline for a functional resume is:

  • Header: This is where you state your name and contact information.
  • Objective: Include your career goals and motivations in a few sentences. This is extremely important for a functional resume, as your experience may not paint the full picture as to why you are the perfect candidate for a position.
  • Skills: This is where you describe your areas of expertise. This is the meat of your resume, so it should be the largest section and highlight your strengths as they pertain specifically to the job you’re applying for.
  • Work Experience: This is where you list your previous work experience, but it will not be as in-depth as your skills section. Simply list the place of employment, your role, the location of the job, and the dates you worked there. 

Tips to Make You Stand Out

Functional resumes are not as common and often do not pass through the Applicant Tracking System used by most recruiters and hiring managers. If a hiring manager pulls your resume to look it over, you will want to make sure it was worth their effort.

Here are some ways to make your functional resume pop:

  • Link your skills listed back to tangible, measurable achievements whenever possible. Examples of how this can be done are: “Supervised and trained ten employees over the course of four months with a staff retention of 100% at the six-month mark,” or “Researched and composed twenty-five to thirty articles per week spanning a diverse array of topics and events, all completed on or before the due date.”  This can help paint a picture for the hiring manager of what kind of work they can expect from you.
  • Highlight skills that are relevant to the job and field you are looking to enter. Look where there is an overlap in skills that the job requires and the ones you have demonstrated in some capacity. For example, if you are looking to move out of customer service and transition into management or a training specialization, look where there is overlap–did you help train new employees? Did you lead shifts? Did you navigate staff conflicts effectively?
  • Pair your functional resume with outstanding references and cover letters. Your cover letter can help bridge any gaps in your resume so that a hiring manager doesn’t fill in the blanks themselves. If you have gaps in your resume or frequently changed jobs, employers may have questions. If you have references that can stand by the quality of your work and you explain those gaps or changes, you are being proactive before any unfair assumptions can be made.

In some cases, a functional resume can showcase your abilities better than a traditional one. Be sure to focus on relevant skills and tie them into tangible results to spotlight why you would be ideal for the role.

Final Thoughts

Functional resumes always stand out, but most people opt for a traditional reverse-chronological resume. However, if you fall into any of the aforementioned groups, highlighting your skills that are transferable from your previous experience to the new position can help recruiters envision you in your dream job.

Author: Becky is a contributor for theJub. She’s a writing and talent acquisition specialist who loves to apply her skills through creative writing and editing.

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