Returning to the job market? Did you ever think of submitting a functional resume? 

  • Tim Neary | August 01, 2019
Are you better off submitting a functional resume?

Functional resumes work well for less-mainstream candidates. But what are they, and how will you know if you’re one of these rarer job seekers.

A functional resume focuses on skills and working experience, rather than chronological employment history, and in some cases – but not all – submitting one is the best approach to take.  

Functional resumes work best for people who have gaps in their employment history, are changing careers or whose work history is not directly related to the job they are chasing, according to The Balance Careers. 

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“In this way, specific skills and capabilities are emphasized to highlight the job seeker's abilities,” it said in an online blog post. 

“This is different from a traditional, chronological resume that displays a timeline of reverse work experience with brief explanations of each job. As a result, the focus is shifted from job titles and the amount of time that has passed to the actual skills the applicant possesses.” 

Cut to the chase 

Job site platform, Indeed, adds that functional resumes, where appropriate, work well because they place less importance on timelines and allow employers to quickly understand how an applicant’s strengths relate to the job description.

But it also makes the point that the chronological type is usually preferred, so those thinking about going this route should also consider their professional background and education before going ahead with it, as these might do enough to cover any, and certainly less significant, chronological gaps. 

And then, it says, make sure it is accurate and represents you properly.  

“After you’ve written your functional resume, take the time to edit and proofread to ensure it addresses the skills and abilities listed in the job description,” says Indeed.

“Writing a cover letter can be a helpful supplement to a functional resume, giving employers a chance to understand your qualifications and the skills that make you a strong choice for the position.”

Multi-skilled 

According to global employment exchange Monster, the reason functional resumes work well is that many less-mainstream candidates have acquired skills along the way that are very transferable.

“For example, if you have worked as a retail manager, chances are you were responsible for hiring, training, coaching, evaluating and handling employee relations issues,” it said.

“If you were to submit this information in a chronological resume, there's a good chance a hiring manager (or computer) might skip right by you, because you did not hold the title of human resources manager, even if 50 percent of your day was spent dealing with HR-related issues.”

Monster says the strength of the functional resume comes down to how candidates package themselves in it. 

“You can give employers the same information, only in a new and improved package. This is bound to get you more interviews, which will increase your chances of landing the job you want.”

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