Saturday, October 21, 2006


By Randi Lewis

The Functional Resume. What is it and does it really help a professional get the job? I have worked with a number of professionals recently who have inquired about the functional resume. These men and women were told by career counselors that they should craft one. Why? Either because they had long careers and it would mask their “age,” or because they have gaps in their employment history and it would mask those gaps.

  • What do I think? As a recruitment professional who screens thousands of resumes per year, I think the purely functional resume doesn’t help at all. It raises questions about your work history and what you did where. If recruiters have to work too hard to understand what you did where, they may become suspicious that you are hiding something, which you are, or they may become frustrated because they can’t determine where you received your experience. Consequently, they are more likely than not to place your resume in the “no thank you” pile.
  • What's a Functional Resume? What do the resume professionals mean by a functional resume? The functional resume groups experience in skill-related categories rather than in reverse chronological order like the more typical resume. The purely functional resume doesn’t list your employers or your job duties. Recruiters looking to hire professionals such as accountants, senior sales professionals, marketing professionals, lawyers, doctors, CEO’s, CFO’s and so on, want to see your job history. It’s as simple as that. So, the resume that lists employment history in reverse chronological order will make it to the top of the pile.
  • Common Questions: How do you minimize the employment gaps? How do you conceal your age? How do you highlight prior work experience that may be more relevant to the job you seek? Each case is different but here are a few suggestions:
  • Employment Gaps. If you are a mom or dad who has stayed home for a number of years raising your children, consider mentioning that in the profile section. You might say, “Accomplished marketing professional with eight years of experience in global marketing and branding returning to workplace after working at home full time raising three children and managing family.”
  • Worried About Age? If you are concerned that your age will place your resume in the “no thank you pile” before you’ve had a chance to meet them so they’ll know you are perfect for the job, here are my thoughts. If you have a long history of employment, consider crafting the employment heading with a slight change such as RELEVANT EXPERIENCE or RECENT PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE. Then omit employment experiences that occurred 20 years ago or more. Also consider omitting the dates you graduated from college or graduate school. But, if you omit the dates, know that it will alert the employer that you don’t want your age known. That’s not a bad thing but prepared to let people know your graduation years if asked. Also, don’t be untruthful about anything in an interview. If asked, freely talk about the work experience you omitted without apology.
  • Prior Work More Relevant? If your prior work is more relevant, place it first under a section such as, RELEVANT EXPERIENCE. The next section would read something like, OTHER EXPERIENCE. A PROFILE paragraph and/or SUMMARY OF SKILLS section may help too.
  • But can you have a winning chronological resume that INCLUDES skill-related categories? Yes. And in some instances, I recommend it. For example, if you are an experienced professional having substantially similar experience with multiple employers, it would be wise to include a section of representative skills or key accomplishments before the chronological job history. But you still must write something substantial under each job.
  • What about the OBJECTIVE Section? I am not a fan of the OBJECTIVE section at the top. I have never seen a resume with an objective that has made a difference. Instead, in my experience, objectives sometimes distract from the substance of the resume because they are poorly written and tell us nothing of import. Instead, I recommend that the resumes of seasoned professionals include a PROFILE section at the top that summarizes and highlights the essence of their experience and strengths. How many years of experience do you need to have before it would be appropriate to add a profile? It depends. I have written profile for professionals with as few as 3 years experience.

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