3 Reasons You'd Need to Use a Functional Resume

Sometimes you should ditch chronological order.

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Ritika Trikha.jpg
Ritika Trikha
No luck on the job front? You might want to rethink your resume format. While traditional resumes are generally a safe route, a functional resume could highlight your strengths more effectively, depending on where you are in your career.

Unlike traditional resumes, functional resumes allow you to group your work history by skills rather than in chronological order. For instance, check out this excerpt from a sample resume via the Peirce College's career guide:

Relevant Skills

Sales and New Account Development  

  • Increased a small publication's advertising revenue through market research and promotion
  • Developed new distribution outlets for a special-interest magazine in Northern California
  • Customer Relations

    • Served as vendor representative for Jana Imports
    • Coordinated product information and distribution for 75 field representatives and major accounts.
    • "Most job descriptions do not call for one format or the other and it is difficult to ascertain what the reviewers' preference may be," says Uva Coles, dean of career management services at Peirce College. "Instead of spending time trying to decide what will work best for the reviewer, try to decide which format will tell your story in the most compelling and relevant way."

      Spend your energy ensuring your resume reflects alignment between the skills required for the role and the skills you have gained over time, she says.

      1. You are in a career transition. Making a huge career move into a new industry means that it's more important for you to highlight your relevant, transferable skills than the chronology of your work history. In fact, Coles says that a functional resume is ideal if you're in a career transition.

      2. You have employment gaps. A functional resume is a great way to zero in on relevant achievements, which can help deflect some questionable gaps in your work history. "In a nutshell, if you want an employer to focus on the 'what' (i.e. what you can bring to the table) vs. the 'when and where' (when you last did this work or where it was done), functional may be the way to go," Coles says.

      3. You have little experience. If you lack enough work history to even fill out a traditional resume, then a functional style would be best suited for you. For instance, recent grads who are new to the work force would be better off grouping the skills they garnered from relevant volunteer experience, internships, and other extracurricular activities.

      "Whatever you do, select the format that demonstrates direct alignment and relevance to the job. After all, it's the content, not the look, that matters most," Coles says.

      Ritika Trikha is a writer for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Check out CareerBliss for millions of job listings, company reviews, salary information, and a free career happiness assessment.