Functional Resume Example

I read a functional resume today that illustrated clearly why most people should avoid this resume structure. Functional resumes organize information according to the skills or experiences of the job seeker, not the individual jobs. This resume type can be effective for some individuals, but most people are better served by a chronological resume.

The resume was organized with the following sections:

  • Experience

  • Accomplishments

  • Education

  • Special Training

  • Technical Skills

  • Affiliations

  • Awards & Honors

  • Professional Work Experience

The resume had a number of problems. By far the biggest was the disconnect between the Experience and Accomplishment sections and the Professional Work Experience section. The Experience section described the candidate’s background in a single paragraph. The Accomplishments section contained a series of paragraphs, each describing a skill.

Both the Experience and Accomplishments sections described a senior executive with advertising and sales experience. The Professional Work Experience section showed a series of jobs, listing the title, company and dates only. The job titles listed in this section were for retail store manager positions. None of the jobs mentioned a VP role in any field, and did not show any advertising or business development roles.

Further clouding the picture was the Education section. The job seeker had bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Computer Science. None of the jobs, skills, accomplishments or experiences had anything to do with the IT field. I can understand a person getting a bachelor’s degree in one field and then working in another field. I have trouble understanding what would cause a person to get a master’s in a field but never work in a job remotely close to that field.

If you choose a functional structure for your resume, you need to create a clear picture of your career. Chronological resumes are much easier to write. The sequence of jobs and time in each position helps show the capabilities of the job seeker. In a functional resume, experiences and accomplishments are not tied to a specific position. This can cause confusion.

Recruiter Assessment

As a recruiter, I can’t see a situation when I would want to interview this candidate as long as they have this resume.  The resume presents three primary areas of expertise:  senior management of advertising and business development, retail store management and IT.

The job seeker did not list any positions where he held a senior management role and no positions in advertising or business development.  If I had a VP position, I would find someone with experience in the field long before considering this candidate.

If I was filling a retail store manager position, the candidate would get a solid look, but still not fair well.  None of the accomplishments on the resume have anything to do with retail.  I would question why a good store manager has to list accomplishments from other fields and can’t include one from retail.  There are a lot of good retail managers that can show clearly their performance and accomplishments.  They will have a big edge over this candidate.

IT jobs are an even a bigger stretch.  The field changes quickly and a few years out of the industry can put someone technically behind.  With only a couple degrees and no work experience, the person would only be qualified for an entry level role.  In those roles, more recent graduates would have an edge.

You may be wondering if this job seeker has a chance to get hired.  With this resume, it’s very unlikely.  With a targeted resume focused on one field and a better presentation of the job seeker’s skills, experience and accomplishments in that field, he would greatly improve his chances.  The key is to create a solid sales pitch for the desired role.