Learn the difference between a functional and a chronological resume and when to use it. Ever wondered what a functional resume is exactly? Stacey will explain the basics as well as how to create a functional resume and when is it appropriate to use it. Functional resumes may sound intimidating, but they can be useful in landing you an interview.
- Functional resumes elicit many questions, and the biggest one is what is a functional resume? But before we answer that question, do you know what a chronological resume is? Today I'm going to help you learn the appropriate terminology for your resume of choice, how to tell the difference between a chronological and a functional resume, and when to use one instead of the other. Odds are that if you have a resume, it is in a chronological format. This means that your professional experience is placed on your resume in the order that it happened.
Although, with resumes, your most current experience is most important, and therefore it appears first, which is actually in reverse chronological order. Nevertheless, reverse or not, a standard resume is considered a chronological resume. I mention this so I can compare it with the functional resume, which works a little differently. Your professional experience is displayed by function and skill rather than by the date you performed the function.
As an example, if you are an accountant, and you started your career as a billing clerk, worked for many years as a bookkeeper, and now are an accounting manager, you have three distinct functions within accounting that you can show on your resume. Your headings would consist of those three skill sets instead of the companies where you worked. The detail below would include descriptions of these positions, the software you've used, the industries you have knowledge of, the numbers of credit memos you were able to process in a day, et cetera.
The major difference is that the experience could have come from when you first started your career, or it could have been obtained a few days prior to you writing the resume, which is why recruiters don't usually like functional resumes. Even though you will include a work history, or employment history section, it is not apparent at what point in your career you performed this skill you're mentioning. As shown in the example in the exercise files, your work history section will include the employers name, your job title, the city and state where you worked, along with the dates worked.
I hope that right now you're asking yourself, if recruiters don't like functional resumes, why would I ever use one? A common example is in the case of someone who has worked for a number of years for the same company, but has moved around within that company. In that case, a functional resume will work well for you. It will also be helpful to you if you have had a long career in the same industry, even if you have changed jobs a number of times.
Finally, a functional resume will be a great tool for you to use if you're changing careers and want to showcase experience you have that isn't immediately apparent from your job titles. Let's start with an example from someone who worked for the same company for 15 years. Let's assume Joe worked for company X as an administrative assistant in the contracts department for three years, then he became the assistant to a VP who, after a year, moved into the marketing and PR department.
Joe essentially became a PR assistant, and learned a lot about that field. But then the VP left the company and Joe transferred into the marketing department as an account manager. He worked in marketing for five years, then an opportunity opened up to work as the liaison for the company's largest client, and since he had contract experience, he began drafting marketing related contracts. When that client switched vendors, Joe applied internally and got a job as a contracts administration manager, and that's what he's been doing for the last year or so.
How many skills or functions will Joe list on his functional resume? He has experience as an administrative assistant, a PR assistant, an accounts manager in marketing, he's drafted contracts, and now he's managing other contracts specialists. If I were Joe, I would list the following headings; general office administration, contract drafting and management, and marketing and PR. But this is just one way to do this. The important thing about a functional resume is the headings, name them something that will be important to the reader and relevant to the job to which you are applying.
So even though I listed three headings, depending upon the job Joe is applying to, he may not want to list contracts and marketing on one resume. This is both an excellent feature and a difficult one to master because you have a lot of choice in how you display your information. For those of you who have had a long career in the same industry, a functional resume is helpful because it prevents you from having to write the same thing repeatedly on your resume.
If you were a real estate agent at four different brokerages, but you did the exact same thing for each employer, someone reading a chronological resume would get very tired of reading the same four to five bullet points over and over again. Use your creativity. If you can think of other reasons to use a functional resume, go for it.
Stacey A. Gordon, cofounder of Career Incubator, has made it her life's work to help others find the jobs and build the careers of their dreams. In this course, she walks through the basics of resume writing for job seekers, as well as a few extra job search basics such as following up, sending thank-you notes, and identifying companies to work for and determining fit.
Stacey explains what you should include on your resume, what to exclude, and how to craft your resume to showcase your talents and best qualities. Using practical resume examples, Stacey walks through choosing the right resume format, tailoring the information to match job requirements, and writing alternative resumes that include industry-specific information. Last, Stacey shows you how to deal with some common sore spots—like job hopping, lack of experience, or large unemployment gaps—while concentrating on your experience.
- Writing an objective statement
- Adding a summary of skills
- Showcasing your professional work
- Presenting your education
- Customizing your contact information
- Tailoring your resume to fit a job
- Upgrading your resume
- Choosing a resume layout
- Writing resumes for marketing, entertainment, and design jobs
- Handling career gaps and job changes
- Standing out and following up with employers
- Using a resume effectively
- Determining fit at a prospective job
- Finding contacts at companies you want to work for