When a Functional Resume Works Against You?

The functional resume. Yes, there is a place for it among job seekers.

Basically, a functional resume allows a job seeker to focus on skills, talents, and accomplishments rather than a chronological employment history.

The job candidates who use functional resumes usually fall into three categories:

1. Candidates are in a career transition

This means that they have work experience in a specific sector but are now looking to break out of that sector and use their skills and talents in a new industry.

Here’s an example: You have been in the banking sector for several years but you find it too conservative for your more progressive tastes. You are looking to move into The IT department of a company with a more “youthful” culture.

2. Candidates have gaps in employment

For whatever reason, there are one or more periods of time during which you were unemployed. If the cause is reasonably explained (e.g., went back to school fulltime), then there is no need to deflect that gap.

If, however, the gap was due to being terminated or having started a business that failed, you do want to deflect attention away.

Developing a resume with sections devoted to skills and achievements, rather than a chronological listing of work history will not totally “hide” such gaps but will cause the reader to focus on the value you bring instead.

 3. Candidates have little work experience

 Generally, job seekers who have just graduated and are looking for an entry-level career position, will have little experience to put on a resume.

    These candidates will need to focus on the skillsets they have developed while in school – through volunteer activities, internships, and any leadership positions they may have held in organizations. Part-time jobs at fast food restaurants will just not cut it.

Can a Functional Resume Work Against You?

Yes, it can. There are a number of recruiters and hiring managers who state they hate the functional resume.

Their reasons are as follows;

  1. Your information is out of context. They want to read about your skills and achievements within the context of the organization you worked for.
  2. You may be exaggerating your talents and achievements without that context to back them up
  3. They have to draw their own conclusions without a work history.
  4. They suspect the applicant is hiding something and will then try to play detective. This takes time, and it frustrates them. They move on to resumes that have a chronological format and a context.

What’s the Solution?

The solution may lie in what is termed the “hybrid” resume.

And here is why:

  • The first part of your resume body can be crafted as a functional resume. In this part, you will list the skillsets and abilities you have that directly relate to the advertised position. You want to be careful here. Focus only on the skills that the job posting enumerates. And don’t include “soft” skills, unless the posting identifies them.
  • The second part of the resume can be the chronological listing of work history. Yes, there may be gaps, but you can’t get around them. For newbies, this is the place to list the internships and volunteer positions you held.
  • Can you “stretch the truth” to fill in those gaps? This is something you must think about carefully. Some applicants “fill” the gap with such things as starting their own business (which subsequently failed), consulting, or freelancing. If you choose to “stretch the truth” in this way, tread very carefully. If you should land an interview, it will come up, no doubt.
  • Recruiters and hiring managers do like to see some type of chronological history, particularly those who are acting on behalf of more traditional companies.

Crafting that Hybrid Resume

The hybrid resume will require some very expert construction. You may not feel comfortable putting this together on your own. But there is a help. A number of resume service sites have templates that you can use. But, your circumstances may be unique, and a generic template may not really work.

For total customization you may want to use a personal resume expert. One often-neglected source can be finding the best academic writing service that also offers resume services. Usually, the most reputable ones will hire HR experts to consult with job candidates on resume construction. They can be great resources.

What you need is a “blended” approach for your resume, especially for traditional organizations. More progressive organizations may not be as concerned about a chronological history. As is always recommended, your resume must be crafted for the specific employer.

Hybrids are Growing in Popularity

According to some employment and resume experts, the hybrid resume is becoming more popular with job candidates, no matter what their employment history may be.

The reason for this growing popularity is the increasing use of applicant tracking systems – the technology that scans resumes for keywords and, more specifically, where those keywords are located.

Using a hybrid resume that focuses on skillsets first, provides applicants with the chance to get those keywords included at the top of the document.

Resume formats have evolved over the years and will continue to evolve. The key consideration for an applicant is to gear a resume to the organization – using the keywords found in the job posting, researching the “culture” of the organization, and then crafting a resume that “fits.”   

Written By
Luisa Brenton is a freelance writer and editor for the review site, Rated by Students. In her non-work life, she is an avid horsewoman, breeding thoroughbreds and competing in shows. And in between those two “jobs,” she works on her bucket list - visiting the capital cities of every country in the world.