How to: A Functional Resume

So, you want a functional resume. The keyword here is functional - if you’re googling a functional resume specifically, that means you want something focuses on your qualities and skills - what you bring to the table - not necessarily prior work experience. You want to highlight yourself, your accomplishments, and all the things that make you stand out against the crowd that is the competitive job market today, all in an easy to understand way.

First, focus on the formatting. Functional resume formatting is fundamental in making your resume easy for recruiters and HR professionals to read. Make sure all your titles, bullet points, dates, locations, EVERYTHING is aligned properly and easy to find. A functional resume will allow you to make a straight line with your eyes down the sheet of paper, hitting everything that is in the same category without deviating left or right. Make use of all the space on the paper and don’t leave too much distracting white space, but it’s a delicate balance between leaving white space on the page and overcrowding it with unnecessary text.

Second, think about the content on your resume. Instead of looking at a job experience and saying, “I filed charts and handled phone calls and messages” you can say how you learned valuable organizational skills that translated into more efficiency in the workplace (filing papers) and important interpersonal skills that allow you to communicate effectively. On a functional resume, say both of those things and then combine them! Put the two together and it’s easy to say you’ve mastered the art of multitasking. This involves seeing behind the surface-level job description - and who would know the ins and outs of your job better than you?

In a similar vein, a functional resume might include a professional summary at the top of your resume, below your contact information. This summary is important in highlighting skills and personal characteristics you otherwise wouldn’t be able to convey via past experience. In thinking about the example mentioned in the previous paragraph, it’s easy to show those skills based on how they directly relate to your job description. But, based on a job description, how can you possibly portray that you’re a real go-getter or what your passions are? This summary in a functional resume serves to highlight things you want the employer to know but are hard to tie in to past experiences.

Now, the unfortunate truth is that most employers will recognize functional resumes versus traditional resumes. Thus, here’s an aside that will hopefully help you get past the dreaded interview question of, “Well what were you doing from June to October?”

Functional resumes are most commonly used by people in between jobs, who may or may not want to hide the fact that they’ve been unemployed for a month or two (or more…) here and there. That’s not a problem, as long as you give good, honest, meaningful reasoning as to why you were missing work. Remember, bosses are people too, and they typically are pretty understanding underneath that hard shell. Don’t say you were just in between work or diligently searching for a job - everyone is. Talk about something - some experience that you had that was meaningful to you and an interesting story to tell. Workplace culture is a surprisingly important thing, and the person interviewing you is far more likely to move you along if they actually like you and you’re interesting and personable.

Anyway, back to the actual document. A functional resume, in order to be effective, needs to be convincing. You simply cannot get away with bullet points about your skills or job experiences that sound like what applicants 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 had. Your bullet points and your summaries absolutely must contain strong verbiage and quantitative achievements. What do I mean by quantitative achievements? Well, a good functional resume - or any resume, for that matter - will explain someone’s accomplishments in a way that helps the recruiter or interviewer understand exactly what they did.

For example, instead of saying you “Ran a successful software company” you can say something like “Developed a software company with 12 employees that generated over $75,000 in revenues.” Which one sounds better and more impressive? Even though 12 employees and $75,000 isn’t a huge amount in the grand scheme of things - especially in the tech space - it still simply sounds better.

That being said, do not lie on your resume. There aren’t many quicker ways to get fired than to lie on your resume, get asked to do something similar to what you explicitly said you could do on your resume, and then all of a sudden you’ve forgotten how to do it. Do not lie on your resume. Just don’t, no matter the circumstances. It’s much easier to just not apply for a job if you’re going to lie on your resume.

Just make things sound as impressive as you possibly can. It’s actually not that hard if you think about it, but it definitely takes weeks worth of work and fine tuning of your functional resume to turn a job experience like being a receptionist into a bullet point or summary that says you “Managed and developed client relationships while maintaining a high level of efficiency.” This may not be exactly true of all receptionist positions, which is why you must think of the things that apply to you specifically that you can turn into a competitive edge. No two jobs are the same, remember that.

At the end of the day, don’t shy away from traditional resume formatting as well. It might actually be beneficial, as your resume should be a chronological account of your life, ending in why you’re applying to the job you are today. Functional resumes are useful in some scenarios, but can also be red flags for employers - they don’t want to even interview someone who is constantly in between jobs without good reason, so it may be a good option to go for a traditional resume that tells a great story as opposed to a functional resume that… doesn’t.

At the end of the day, resumes themselves are a complex enough task. It’s almost impossible to effectively tell your story on one piece of paper, let alone make that story stand out in such a competitive job market. It’s a daunting task, but we might be able to help you out. So feel free to check out the rest of our site and take a look at what we have to offer! We use artificial intelligence paired with resume and HR experts to build a resume that will truly illuminate your accomplishments. Browse our site and see if any of our products interest you! I guarantee we won’t disappoint.