By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior Contributing Writer
Everyone’s used to seeing resumes that are written in reverse chronological order, where you list your work history and achievements starting where you’ve been employed most recently, down the page to your most distant employers. But this traditional format doesn’t fit every situation.
What if, for example, you worked for a while but took a few years off to raise your children or care for an elderly family member? Or how about if you’re making a career change into a brand new occupation?
These kinds of situations call for a somewhat different resume design. A “Functional” resume shifts the emphasis: from where you’ve worked, to your specific skill sets and accomplishments.
Who Should Use a Functional Resume?
A functional resume is particularly useful for people who:
Why Functional Resumes Can Be Effective
The reason functional resumes work well in these situations is that we acquire skills while employed (or through volunteer experience, hobbies) that are transferable. If you’ve worked as a Customer Service Manager, chances are you were responsible for hiring, training, coaching, evaluating and handling employee relations issues.
Yet if you were to submit this information in a chronological resume when applying for a Human Resources Manager job, there's a good chance your resume might get skipped, because your title was not human resources related. This applies even if 50 percent of your day was spent dealing with HR issues.
The Functional approach deals with these sorts of issues head on. See how, in the following example. Note that achievements are listed under a particular skills category, rather than in the context of a specific job that’s been held. Your actual Employment History comes after the Work Experience section.
Sample Functional Resume: Work Experience and Employment History Sections
Work Experience & Skills
Human Resources: Hiring and Terminating Employees
Human Resources: Training and Development
- Recruited, interviewed and hired one new CSR to the team
- Terminated the employment of a non-performing staff member after providing numerous opportunities for coaching and improvement in work ethic. Documented appropriately and provided legally approved severance package and outplacement
- Created training program to bring new CSR's on board faster and more efficiently
- Conducted a needs analysis and worked with Human Resources specialists
- Delivered this program to the newly hired employee, quickly boosting their effectiveness
- Ensured that high standards of customer service were maintained by implementing new computer software that tracked contacts, scheduled replies and monitored follow-up. Customer complaints decreased by 20% within six months of implementation
- Worked with Customer Service reps to develop new protocols in handling incoming calls and and email. A "Priority Response" system was put in place enabling CSR's to rank urgency of contacts and deal the most critical situations first.
Customer Service Manager, City Insurance Co., Regina, Saskatchewan, 2008- Present
Reporting to Director of Customer Service, manages a team of three Customer Service Representatives in a publicly traded company with $20 Million in annual revenues.
Customer Service Representative, National Manufactures Inc., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 2005-2007
Reporting to Manager of Customer Service, answered incoming calls and placed outgoing inquiries with a wide variety of customers and suppliers. Earned Employee