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A functional resume can be a great way to display your skills to a hiring manager. What should you know about using a functional resume?
Though this format is sometimes talked about negatively, there are many benefits to choosing a functional resume format. A functional resume can be incredibly useful to job seekers when crafted with skill.
A functional resume is a resume that highlights the skills section and puts emphasis on a job seeker's skills rather than their work experience. The benefit of this, of course, is that those with a limited or patchy employment history can refocus hiring managers on important relevant and transferable skills. The downside is that many recruiters know that this is why job seekers choose a functional resume format, and there are other resume formats that may be more beneficial to job seekers in different stages of their career paths.
Broadly speaking, there are three main resume types that you can choose from when seeking a new job. They are:
A functional resume places relevant skills in the spotlight and devotes the largest amount of space to the skills section. This is the best resume format for people who have a limited work history but plenty of relevant, transferable skills. If you have many years of experience, then this format will not be great for you as it limits work history details.
The chronological or reverse-chronological resume format is one that focuses on work history. This is the most common professional resume format and is widely accepted by hiring managers and recruiters. You will find this to be the best resume format for you if you have a lot of work experience, but it may be less appealing if you are undertaking a career change.
A combination resume or hybrid resume format treats skills and work experience equally. This gives it more breadth than a chronological resume while still providing a structure that is similar. If you have a good amount of work experience and a strong skill set, then this type of resume will suit you well.
As you can see, each of these formats has strengths and weaknesses, and each is best suited to a different situation. This is why it is a good idea to consider resume samples that are relevant to your industry and the job title that you intend to apply for; they will give you an idea of which formats and designs are most successful.
Whether you build your resume based on a resume template or from scratch, a functional resume should follow this structure:
Your resume header should hold certain key information. This includes your full name and contact information. This means your phone number, email address, and portfolio links such as your LinkedIn profile.
Most types of resumes will have either a resume objective statement or summary directly beneath the header. This should either be a summary of what makes you a good candidate (resume summary) or a summary plus a statement of your goals (objective statement). In most cases, a resume summary is preferred, but if you are a recent graduate, an objective statement is acceptable.
In a functional format, the skills section will be at the top of the page and should take up the largest part of the resume. This section is a summary of a job seeker's key skills. When you write your skills section, you should consider the job description you are applying for and try to mirror the keywords it uses. Focus on the specific skills that will help you to do the job you are applying for, and try organizing your skills into subcategories (e.g., “Organizational Skills, “Software Skills”).
The work experience section should come next. Though it will be smaller than the employment history section found on other resume types, it should still list job titles, company names, employment dates, and your most important achievements in those roles. Present the information in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent job first.
Include your most advanced educational achievements (e.g., college degree), as well as any courses or certifications related to the job you want. Do not list your GPA unless it is exceptionally high or it is specifically requested by a potential employer.
If you have professional certifications or you have undertaken relevant internships, you can make additional sections for them. Any additional sections should sit at the bottom of your resume.
If you intend to apply for many positions during your job search, then it can be helpful to use a resume builder such as the one offered by ResumeNerd. This can take the stress out of resume writing and guarantees a professional resume that has a good chance of impressing potential employers every time you use it.
Not every hiring manager finds the functional resume format appealing, but it is not inherently “worse” than any other type of resume. As long as you’re presenting your best skills and training and making a compelling case for your job candidacy, a functional resume can be just as effective as other resume formats.
Yes, you should list all of your relevant skills on a functional resume because this is a format that limits focus on your employment history. You should therefore present a mix of technical skills (also known as hard skills) and soft skills (interpersonal skills and personal traits that speak to how you approach work) to present yourself as a well-rounded candidate.
Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are used by many hiring managers to scan resumes, and pass or fail them based on whether they have the right keywords. A functional resume can be just as ATS-friendly as a chronological resume if you make sure that you are hitting all of the relevant keywords. This will be slightly more difficult when you are using a limited amount of your work history, but it is possible. To get the right keywords, look over the job description and pick out phrases that spell out the skills and requirements for the job (e.g., “prepare complex documentation and worksheets”). Match these keywords with your own skills and accomplishments, and include them in your resume (e.g., listing a previous job where you handled documentation and worksheets, or mentioning your proficiency with worksheet software in your skills section).