A resume is one of the indispensable tools for people who are either planning to start out on a career or people who are planning to advance their career. It is essentially a brief and persuasive summary of one’s qualifications and professional achievements, meant to sell the author to prospective employers. And there are various types of resumes, each more suited to certain positions and circumstances. Here we consider a functional resume, and who should use it.
A functional resume is a type of resume which focuses on the author’s qualifications and professional achievements, rather than the history underlying those qualifications and achievements. Thus a typical functional resume will start by stating a career objective, then set out a summary of skills and achievements, keeping the focus on what one did – rather than on when and where. Similarly, the educational qualifications section will tend to focus on the qualifications and certifications that one earned, rather than on where and when. And properly used, this approach can keep the employer focused on what one has – rather than where one got it – and if that is impressive, give him at least a foot in the door. Once there, of course, one gets a better chance of explaining their case. The resume will have served it primary purpose, which is to get one’s foot in the door.
A functional resume is especially useful for people who feel that their career history might be a liability for them. This includes fresh college and university graduates, who are highly qualified but lack the experience to back their qualifications or who feel that they schools they graduated from don’t have established names. Through a functional resume, they can get a chance to focus the attention of the prospective employer on the qualifications they have rather than on the experience or impressive alma mater they don’t have. And if this works out alright, they might just get an interview where they can argue their case, exhibit enthusiasm and character – and very possibly find themselves taken on.
Another group that can benefit from the use of functional resumes is those that are changing careers mid-course, where they happen to realize that the experience they have accumulated may not be seen as directly related to the new career they intend to take, hence the need to focus on their qualifications.
Yet another group of people who might find a functional resume useful over a chronological resume are people with broken career histories, like mothers who have had to take career breaks to take care of their young ones, people who have had to do time for one reason or another and that sort of thing. In this respect, one should remember that however genuine the reasons for those career gaps might be, they could still lock someone out of the initial shortlist, if one doesn’t do something about them as employers tend to have tons of resumes at the initial stage of the recruitment process. And one of the things one can do is focus the employer on their qualifications and achievements through a functional resume.
Of course, a functional resume won’t solve all troubles regarding career history. One can still expect to be interrogated about their career history during the interview. But at least, the functional resume removes the first hurdle on the way by helping one to get the interview in the first place.