Some years back, I was coaching at a resume workshop when I overheard a fellow coach talking about a different way of presenting accomplishments. I love to learn from others and took some time to listen to what she was advising at her table since her advice was different from what I and the other coaches were teaching. She was looking at the resume of a longer-term employee and explaining the merits of moving to a functional resume from a traditional chronological job-by-job resume. I was intrigued and after listening to her, I did some research to understand what a functional resume is and how it is different from a traditional chronological resume.
There are specific times a functional resume is recommended. See if one of these sounds like you.
1. You have been at a single company for a long time doing a variety of roles.
2. Your experience doesn’t appear to apply directly to the new job you want.
3. You want to change functions/industries.
4. You’re a multipotentialite and have a wide and varied skillset.
5. You have gaps in your resume and don’t want to distract the hiring manager.
If any of these apply to you, a functional resume may be a better option to get attention and lead you to your next role.
If you do resume reviews or if you attend any training on resumes, you will learn the top third of the resume is the most important part. It’s where you grab your readers’ attention and help them understand why you are the best fit for their role while intriguing them enough they want to read more and meet you as soon as possible.
If you’re wasting resume real estate on showcasing the companies you’ve worked for instead of the accomplishments and impact you’ve had on the businesses you’ve supported, you’re losing a big chunk of your audience – hiring champions, recruiters and hiring managers.
The top of your resume should quickly show your name (LinkedIn link too), contact information (email and phone), a summary of who you are and what you can provide and a chart/list of skills you have mastered. For a functional resume, you expand on the skills in your chart with impactful results statements.
The ability to pick and choose and customize each resume for each role you’re interested in is also a huge selling point for a functional resume. Think about it, if you carefully curate a few high impact sentences on how you program manage, you can quickly use that paragraph for multiple resumes. If the job opportunities you are interested in have a variety of skills requested, you can quickly modify your resume to fit. You can also quickly rearrange the skill paragraphs to better align with the job role. You don’t have to worry about getting the dates right since the accomplishments are not timebound. So if the first thing they are looking for is a Project Manager – put your project management impact statements at the top and grab their attention.
Trying to change functions or divisions? I recently worked with a friend who had left Construction Management and become a public high school teacher. After nearly a decade of teaching, she decided she wanted to go back to working in the construction industry. Her first attempts at finding a job were met with silence. She was using a traditional chronological resume and the hiring audience was not reading down far enough in her resume to see that she had relevant experience. It was listed at the bottom of page 1 and mostly on page 2 of her resume. They weren’t getting that far before putting her resume in the ‘no’ pile. She called me and asked for help. I suggested a functional resume and she spent a weekend making the changes. It was almost magical. She resubmitted and quickly got phone calls and interest by using her newly formatted functional resume. We were both shocked by how effective the switch had made her resume and her search. She’s now happily back in her old industry and quickly moving up.
If you’re frustrated by not getting enough attention and not getting calls for interviews, do your research and consider the switch from chronological to functional.
For more information and step by step instructions, see the articles below. I would love to hear about your results if you choose to change up your resume.