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Make Functional Resumes Work for You

Here are some steps you'll need to follow in order to figure out if you should create a functional resume and how to do so.

Research the Company and Job

Instead of firing off a resume you have already printed up, tailor your resume to the job for which you're applying. This means knowing a bit about the company and the job position.

To learn why a company should hire you, you need to know a bit about the company. "Knowledge of the company, the position, the industry and the field will be the student's best weapon in the job-hunting jungle," says Gail Taylor. She is a resume writing professional in California.

You can research a company by finding information on the Internet, reading newspaper clippings at the library, talking to employees of the company and visiting the company itself.

Determine if You Should Use a Functional Resume

People who are most likely to use the functional resume are students with minimal work experience, people who are changing careers, people with gaps in their work history and people with diverse experiences.

If you fit into one of these categories, you may decide that you should use the functional resume format.

"Since high school students will not have extensive job history and experience, the functional format can better represent their value to a future employer than would a chronological format," says Frank Fox. He is the executive director of PARW, the Professional Association of Resume Writers, in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"Many experts will agree a functional format works well for resumes of job seekers who may have holes in their work histories," adds Lynda Copeland-Fields. She is a resume writing professional in California.

"High school students often fall into this category because being a student is their main occupation, making work feasible only for limited time spans after school and during vacation."

You might also get help deciding what type of resume to create by attending a seminar, reading books about resume writing or asking experts for opinions on different types of resumes.

Select Functional Skills Headings

In order to write a resume, you must decide why you want the job and why you would be an asset to the company. "Try to answer the question: 'Why should this company hire me?'" says Fox. "Then use past experience to support your sales message."

The main body of the functional resume is a series of skills headings that group work experience, volunteer experience and extracurricular activities together. You will need to select headings that highlight skills you think will give the employer useful information about you. With each heading, write a short paragraph highlighting skills that fit into the category.

You could have a heading called academics, or perhaps one called extracurricular activities.

"Under academics, provide a paragraph describing key subjects, grades, any optional coursework, awards, etc.," says Fox. "For extracurricular, provide a paragraph describing the student's sports activities, volunteer service, scouting or participation in non-school activities, etc."

In addition, you need to create headings that convey your core strengths. Some examples are dependability and commitment. "These sections should convey personality traits that would make the candidate a valuable addition to the company's staff," says Fox.

For example, if you're looking for that job at the golf course, you'll want to highlight golf skills and knowledge, ability to work with others, lawn maintenance skills, dependability and any other skills that you think would be useful on the job.

"Someone with babysitting experience should talk about the responsibility this entails, and their dependability," says Fox.

"A student who has worked in a boutique would certainly want to stress their experience in dealing with the public, resolving customer complaints, and assisting customers in satisfying their goals or requirements."

But it's not just about what you've been paid to do. "Don't forget to list qualities and skills used in unpaid, casual experience," says Taylor.

"Don't underestimate the value of transferable skills. These can be prominently featured in a section headed qualifications, skills, profile or something similar."

Make sure that you put enough detail under each of the skills headings. Functional essays can irritate some employers if they are confused by the format, or if the paragraphs don't provide enough detail.

Use the Right Format

Functional resumes, like chronological resumes, include contact information. They can begin with a one-sentence job objective (this is optional).

With the functional resume, you'll also want to include information at the bottom of the resume about how to contact references.

In addition to your skills headings, you may choose to include a brief chronological education section. Also, if you think that you have enough work experience, feel free to include a short chronological work history within the functional resume.

Some experts say that a resume should only be one page. Others think it is fine for a resume to be longer.

"There is no rule saying that a resume must be one page," says Fox. "The objective here is to impart the information a hiring authority needs to make a decision, not to meet an arbitrary limitation of one page."


"The resume must be absolutely flawless in all aspects," says Lynne O'Connor. She is a resume writing professional. "Grammar, punctuation, spelling, spacing, layout and format are the tools you use to distinguish yourself as someone who pays close attention to detail, has excellent communication skills and makes an extra effort. For these reasons, don't use resume templates or tired phrases such as 'strong interpersonal skills.' Keep it fresh."

The resume is the key to getting you a job interview. It must be written well. "Take your time to create a first-class resume that showcases your skills, experience and who you really are," adds O'Connor.

In addition to checking over your own resume for flaws, show it to others and ask for their input and opinions on how to make it better.


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