What is the purpose of a resume? You might say it is to get you hired but you’d be overlooking a key function of this piece of paper. A resume is an invitation you send to the hiring manager to say, “Hey! Wouldn’t you love to know more?” It’s about presenting yourself in a manner that helps you take a step closer to your ideal job.

And because we come with a variety of backgrounds and job histories, you can’t find a single resume format that works. For those, with less than ideal work histories and a limited amount of experience, a functional resume will help make the invitation to be interviewed easier to achieve.

So, let’s examine what the purpose and the benefits of functional resume are and consider the times when you should opt for this unique resume type. This guide will also feature a template you should use when creating a functional resume.

THE PURPOSE OF A FUNCTIONAL RESUME

A functional resume serves an important use and it’s helpful to understand it before you create one. The most crucial function is to cover periods of unemployment or lack of proper work experience in a way that still makes the resume look presentable and functional. Your objective with the functional resume is to make the hiring manager look at the resume and consider it as normal as possible in terms of skills and qualifications.

The difference between a functional and the ‘standard’ resume is how it approaches the work history. With the functional resume, you won’t highlight a chronological work history since you would have gaps in it. Instead, your focus is on the skills and experiences you’ve gained throughout your working history but also any outside activities or things you’ve been doing. The emphasis, therefore, is not in your titles or the number of months you’ve worked but on the experience and skills you’ve gained.

It’s important to remember that a functional resume isn’t a worse resume style to any other style. You don’t need to feel ashamed in using this format. In fact, hardly any one of us has a perfect work record. Unemployment or lack of jobs shouldn’t be considered a failure – you might be out of work for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it can be family issues or your personal health that’s causing you to stay out of work. Sometimes the economy just isn’t good enough and jobs are hard to come by.

Nonetheless, you will have skills and you can gain valuable experience even if you aren’t working. Managing your family or looking after an ill relative – heck, even travelling around the world – can present you with important skills that can be used in the workplace. Therefore, a functional resume is not a worse option – it’s just a different way of presenting your qualifications for the specific role.

THE ADVANTAGES OF A FUNCTIONAL RESUME

Indeed, a functional resume can be extremely beneficial for many job applicants. The format, which will examine next, can provide you with these stunning benefits:

Focus on the most important aspects

A functional resume can actually help you to better highlight your suitability for the role in question. You will need to fill the resume with skills rather than job titles and this makes it easier to focus on those skills the employer is looking for. You can examine the job description and start meticulously including examples of those particular skills that would help you to perform in the position.

You have a clearer focus on what your skills are and how they relate to the job in question – the vision of what’s required becomes much clearer because the structure of your resume will be so different.

Highlights transferable skills

Unfortunately, job applicants are not always very good at focusing on transferable skills. If the focus is on work, you tend to just emphasize the skills you’ve gained in the position without necessarily looking broader at what you can and cannot do.

But with a functional resume, you need to focus on transferable skills and take a more critical look at the things you’ve learned throughout your life. This point is especially important for those looking for a different career path. You might have experience on sales but what if you are looking for a marketing position right now.

With a functional resume, you can look beyond the job title and role and simply focus on the skills you’ve learned and which can help you in the new career path.

Reduces redundancy

A well-structured and accurately written functional resume can also reduce redundancy. With a chronological or the so-called traditional resume, you might be mentioning the same things twice. You might list the same skills for different job titles or include similar skills in your job list and under your skills.

This takes unnecessary space and makes the hiring manager’s job more complicated. In a functional resume, you don’t keep mentioning the same things over and over again.

THE STRUCTURE OF A FUNCTIONAL RESUME

So, let’s start exploring what the functional resume should look like. How do you structure the resume and make the hiring manager fall in love with you?

The most common structure is built around the following elements:

Contact Information
Qualifications Summary
Relevant Skills
Professional Experience
Education

Contact information

At the top of the functional resume, you should write down your contact information – this is similar to any other resume style. You should include the most relevant contact details, including your full postal address, your phone number, and your email address. It’s important to include both landline and mobile number (if you have both).

You also want to mention if the email you are using is a work email. Nowadays, job applicants sometimes include their Twitter handle or link to their LinkedIn profile (if digital resume). You can do this too but just remember to only link to social media, which is used for professional purposes.

Qualifications summary

The first part of the resume summarizes the relevant qualifications you have in terms of the role. It should feature your career achievements without getting into the date details – remember, you are aiming to avoid shining light on any career gaps you might have.

A good qualifications summary includes around six bullet points that display your most impressive achievements. These can be in relations to different skills such as:

Authority
  • Analysed incoming sales data, creating 2,000-word reports for the company CEO.
Creativity
  • Designed an efficiency program at the university to save housing department $2,000 a month in administrative costs.
Efficiency
  • Produced 1,000 more package inputs at work compared to company average.
Recognition
  • Received the “Employee of the Month” award for six consecutive months in an organisation with 300+ employees.
Management
  • Organised the outings, tournaments and marketing events for a soccer team for two years.
Communication
  • Alleviated customer disputes at a popular rail company for three years.

Now, the above examples show you the broadness of qualifications you can draw from. It doesn’t have to come from a paid position – you don’t need to explain in detail here, but you just want to highlight your most impressive achievements.

Of course, you also don’t need to make the six bullet points about each category but you can highlight to qualities that are most important in the role you are applying for.

Relevant skills

Your next section will list the relevant skills you have in regards the role you are applying for. This is essentially the same as the skills section in your traditional resume – the emphasis is just more on the skills in a functional format.

The key to a good skills section is to select around four skills that are applicable to the job you’re applying for. The employer mentions these skills exclusively in the job description. For example, it could be things like “communication, technical ability, creativity and leadership”. You can figure these out by reading the job description and application package.

Now, for each of the important skills, you will want to come up with a bullet point to prove you have this skills or ability. For example, under “Communication”, you could list your high customer feedback, conflict resolution skills and so on. At this stage, you also want to quantify your skills – including numbers to the resume will add professionalism to the resume and catch the hiring manager’s attention better.

Professional experience

You will also include a professional experience sector in your functional resume. But as you can see, it’s not the first thing on your resume and you’ll format it a little differently to a traditional resume. The different formatting is to avoid highlighting any gaps you have in your career path.

The emphasis won’t be on the dates, although you don’t have to hide them. You can easily “fudge” your resume slightly and leave out the months you’ve worked in a specific profession. For example, instead of showing the gaps in your employment, you simply leave them out:

+

  • 2014 – Hiring Manager at ZYX
  • Sep 2014 to Dec 2014 – Hiring Manager at ZYX
  • 2015 – Junior Account Manager at ABC
  • Mar 2015 to Jul 2015 – Junior Account Manager at ABC
  • 2015-2017 – Senior Manager at DoReMi
  • Dec 2015 to Jun 2017 – Senior Manager at DoReMi

You can discuss these gaps later in the interview in case the hiring manager asks for more details.

You can also directly tackle the issue of unemployment at this point if you want. There are legitimate reasons for not being at work – it’s not about laziness or lack of trying. You might have studied independently while looking after your small child or you’ve been volunteering in order to learn more about the world. The key is to label the unemployment and not refer to it as unemployment.

So, instead of writing that you spent 2016 as unemployed, you can include it in your functional resume as a time for independent study (listing the courses you did) or stating you did Adventure Travel (and the things it thought you). In a way, you take agency for this gap and you show what valuable things it allowed you to do.

Please note that you want to do this even if you were unemployed because you couldn’t find work – you still want to showcase what positive you did during this time and what you learned. Unemployment on its own can come off negatively.

Education

Finally, you should list your education at the end of the functional resume. For the functional style, the list is just a basic collection of the university or school you went to, the degree you received, the date of graduation and any other relevant information, such as the grade you received.

You don’t need to include any other information at this point unless it’s directly related to the role you are applying for.

A SAMPLE FUNCTIONAL RESUME

With the above information in mind, let’s examine a sample functional resume. You can use the template below to make your own functional resume. Just remember to tailor your functional resume based on the role or industry you are applying to.

John Doe
123 High Street
Local Town, 123 456
Tel: 012 234 567
Mobile 010 987 654
johndoe@email.comSUMMARY

  • Experienced: Customer service professional with 5 years experience in hospitality industry
  • Efficient: Ability to handle large projects at once, having been in charge of 200+ client portfolio
  • Leader: Successfully led a team of customer service professional to improve customer service channel and reduce waiting times by 40%
  • Resourceful: Researched customer service software to improve productivity in the organization by 30%

 

RELEVANT SKILLS

  • Customer service:
    • In charge of client accounts from organizing appointments to solving customer pain points
    • Training of new in-house task to ensure customers are treated fairly and well
  • Communication:
    • Lead a debating society in university where gained important skills in speaking and listening
    • Taken courses in conversational influence
    • Multilingual with native-level language skills in English and Spanish
  • Technical:
    • Proficient with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint)
    • Able to use Microsoft and Macintosh OS
    • Experience on social media and history in using Periscope and TweetDeck to manage corporate accounts

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

ZYX Company, City Name – Call centre representative
ABC Business, Town Name – Hotel front desk manager
CDE Organization, City Name – Client manager
Diner ABC, Town name – Cashier

 

EDUCATION

The University of Dreams, City of Dreams, Dreamland
Bachelor of Hospitality, June 2010 

 

WHEN TO OPT FOR A FUNCTIONAL RESUME?

So, when is the above template best used? Who benefits from a functional resume?

As you might have picked up, the resume type is the perfect option for those who have been out of work for a long time. If you don’t have an extensive work history or you’ve been away from the work scene for a few years, you can utilise the functional resume to focus on your skills. It helps you cover those moments away from the grind in a way that doesn’t make you look like a person without the right skills or motivation for the role.

It can even work with those who might not have a huge work history, especially one that relates to the role you are applying for. So, if you are looking to start your career in the fashion world but you’ve only really worked in retail, you can use the functional resume to focus on the transferable skills. It can help highlight your suitability for the role without a background in that specific role or industry.

Indeed, you don’t need to have been unemployed or have a short list of job titles in the resume in order to use a functional resume. The format is fitting for those seeking to change their careers dramatically. Let’s say you’ve been working in different accounting roles for a decade but you finally want to follow your passion and get into the bakery industry. You won’t really benefit from listing your accounting roles but you can utilize the functional resume format to highlight your transferable skills (attention to detail, working on your own and so on), as well as mention the things you’ve done to explore the passion (baking courses and so on, for example).

Now, you don’t always have to just stick to a single type of resume. It is possible to take elements of the chronological resume and combine them with a functional resume. The key is always to remember that your resume is supposed to present your qualifications, skills and achievements in a way that shows you’d be a great fit for the particular role in question.

TO SUMMARIZE

If your work history isn’t full of decades of relevant work experience and you have gaps in employment, a functional resume is a good option. The emphasis of this resume is showcasing how your skills align with those required for the job position.

It isn’t about the number of years you’ve held a certain role but whether you have the skills and characteristics to perform in a specific role. It’s a great tool for showing your strengths.

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