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The Functional Resume

When you have been out of the workplace for years – that’s right – years not months, and you want back in a conventional resume will not do. Whenever you have any kind of a major gap in your work timeline you will want to use a functional resume rather than the traditional chronological resume.

What is a functional resume and why is it better than the chronological resume when you have gaps in your work experience?


In order to answer that question we should first touch on the role of the resume. Many people think that their resume will get them a job. No resume ever got anyone a job. Resumes get you interviews. Resumes get you in the door. After that it is up to you, but you need a resume to get you in the door.

For the most part the traditional chronological resume is the choice of hiring managers, recruiters and Human Resource personnel because it outlines one’s entire work history and shows how long you have worked and where you have worked at a glance. The chronological resume has proven its worth over the years.

The chronological resume starts with the most current job, responsibilities and duties and works backwards to the first job you ever had. With this type of resume, the employee’s skills are buried in and among the duties and responsibilities. This is the weakness of the chronological resume and the strength of the functional resume.

Who Needs a Functional Resume?

The functional resume is a skills based document. It is a document that shines a bright light on the employee’s skills and targets those skills directly to the needs of the employer in their job listing. Who should use this type of resume?

· If you have several different jobs in a short period of time. This is a red flag for many hiring managers and the functional resume gets you beyond the question.

· If you have a long period of time or several short periods of time when you did not work at all this is the right resume for you. For example: if you stayed home for 3 years to raise a child.

· You are applying for your first job ever. You have no chronological history. You need to be able to list the skills you have gained in school or part time jobs.

· You spent a year and a half caring for your dying father and now you are ready to go back to work.

· Your current job veers away from your primary skills and career goals. The functional resume can get it back on track.

What is a Functional Resume?

A functional resume lumps all your skills into one section instead of hiding them within the duties and responsibilities of a chronological resume.  So what does this look like? A functional resume can often look like this:




Web profile

Summary or Personal Profile: This is a brief overview of your history and skills. This is not a detailed outline or in depth discussion of your skills. Rather it is an overview but it is an important piece of a functional resume.

Core Qualification and Skills: This is where you want to list all the skills you have whether attained through work or volunteer experiences or relevant hobbies. Cover these in detail and connect your skills to what the hiring manager is looking for.

Experience: Now take your work experience and skills and quantify your accomplishments. In a functional resume this section is not a listing of jobs with duties and responsibilities as in a chronological one. It is a clear description of what you have done for the companies you worked for. What was your real value to them? Did you save them money or make them a lot of money? That is the kind of experience you want to list here.

Education: College and post college only.

Employment History: Now just list in chronological order from current to first the name of employer, title of your job and dates worked. No other information is added here.

This is a template for a functional resume. You need to group the skills in your core qualifications and skill sections in such a way that they can easily be seen by either a person reading your resume or a computer program such as the applicant screening software in use in many companies. These programs look for keywords that are also in the job description of the position you are applying for.

Organize your skills under headings like Computer Skills, Communication Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Organizing Skills and any specialty or field related skills such as engineering, accounting, materials management etc.

So if you fall into one of the categories listed here try using a functional resume instead of the traditional chronological one to open those doors and get an interview with a hiring manager like me.