Functional Resumes

While chronological resumes are the most common resume format, they aren't always the most effective. Chronological resumes work well for job seekers who have a strong, logical work history. Functional resumes tend to work better for job seekers who may not have a logical work history, or have gaps in their employment. The functional resume is designed to allow you focus on job specific skills and accomplishments that relate to the specific position being applied for. If your job history isn't very impressive, due to employment gaps, or if it just doesn't make sense, a functional resume is probably your best option.

Functional resumes are designed to emphasize job skills and major achievements. Hiring managers and prospective employers reviewing a functional resume can see what a job seekers skills are without having to sift through a bunch details about prior jobs since these details are usually omitted. A variety of formats can be utilized for preparing a functional resume. Functional resumes are effective when making a career transition, when a job-seeker has worked in a variety of different fields, or had numerous responsibilities at prior jobs. In other words, functional resumes are effective for people who are not specialists. College graduates, stay at home moms, or military professionals entering the job market will benefit from employing a functional resume format.

Individuals making career transitions should prepare a functional resume. However, potential employers will not be able to identify specifics about prior work experience from reviewing a functional resume which may be an issue for more traditional managers.

Job seekers who should consider using a functional resume format include:

  • Professionals who are making a large career change.
  • Those with disparate career experiences and jobs that don't show a clear-cut career path.
  • Individuals with gaps in their work history. (A chronological resume will draw attention to gaps in work history.)
  • Students with mimimal work experience or unrelated work history.
  • Military transitioners who are entering the private sector for the first time.
  • Individuals with a strong work history who want to avoid getting stuck in a similar position.
  • Older workers who do not want to emphasize their age.

The following is a useful functional resume template:

Chrono-functional, Hybrid or Combination Format
In recent years functional resumes have lost much of their traditional appeal. Many aspiring professionals and jobs seekers have reverted to using a standard chronological resume format, as they're preferred by most employers. A truly functional resume omits periods of time, dates and even employers. For this reason many hiring managers and employers do not like functional resumes.

A compromise between the functional and chronological resume is known as the chrono-functional, combination or hybrid resume. The chrono-functional resume employs a mostly functional format but also includes a complete work history in reverse chronological order. The work history is bare-bones and includes only location of employment, employer name and job title. In the chrono-functional resume the job-seeker doesn't include a job description as part of the work history as that information is included in the functional section of the resume.

Notwithstanding their usefulness for job-seekers, employers typically prefer chronological resumes over functional or chrono-functional resumes. In fact, some hiring managers ignore functional resumes altogether. Hiring managers want to know where you worked, when you worked there and what you accomplished at each job. Many functional resumes must also be re-formatted to be searchable by resume search databases that many employers use.

In our opinion a functional resume, or even a chrono-functional resume should only be used if:

  • You have very diverse set of career experiences that do not demonstrate a clear career path.
  • You are a college student with very little work history.
  • You are a mid-life career changer that is moving into a field that is very different from your previous experience.
  • You are a homemaker re-entering the workforce after having been away for several years.

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