F: The Functional resume…the kiss of death in today’s job market.
In resume writing, there are three standard formats that you can use to highlight your professional experience, the chronological resume, the functional resume, and the combination resume, which, as the name implies, is a combination between the functional and chronological resume. Each resume format has its merits as well as its limitations and in this job market, where the “buyer” or employer clearly has the upper hand due to the surplus of job applicants, the functional resume is a definite loser in most cases. If you are currently using this format or plan to create a resume using this format, think again, because it could cost you interviews.
We all know that the most accepted resume format is the chronological format because presents your professional experience in a reverse-chronological order and links your accomplishments directly with the corresponding position. Recruiters and employers love this format because they can quickly tell what you did and where you did it. This resume format is perfect for the person who has a consistent work history, i.e., no large gaps in employment. This format also works well for the person who is looking for a job in the same or very similar career that they have experience in. But what if you don’t have a consistent work history, i.e., gaps in employment and or you are looking to for a job in a very different career than you have experience in? The functional resume use to be the answer.
At one time, the functional resume was the solution to this dilemma. Why? Because a functional resume breaks the link between your professional experience and where you received it. The beauty of the functional resume is that it groups your experience into “functional” areas, hence the name, and de-emphasizes where you received the experience. This allows someone with large employment gaps or an interest in changing careers to shift attention away from their work history and towards transferable skills. So what is the problem? Recruiters and employers understand this strategy and realize that you are trying to conceal information. This is compounded by the fact that there are so many qualified candidates to choose from that they can simply toss your resume in favor for someone with a chronological resume and the experience they desire. You cannot afford for this to happen to you if you intend to regain employment anytime soon. So what do you do to remedy this situation? Consider using the third format, the combination resume.
The combination resume takes the best elements of both the chronological and functional resumes in effort to help persons with large employment gaps or career-change aspirations. There are many ways to utilize this format, but basically you still create functional areas to group your experience, but, instead of pulling the experience outside of your professional experience section, you leave it there and create functional areas under each position. This way, employers and recruiters can still see where you obtained your experience. The only other problem is what to do about gaps in employment. As best as you can, you should try to feel these gaps by volunteering going back to school, taking an unpaid internship, or simply taking a job where you can continue working on your skills. If none of these solutions are an option, then be prepared to explain your employment gaps in the interview, should you be fortunate enough to get passed the resume screening process.