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The Advantages of a Functional Resume

Q: I've decided to change jobs after eight years with the same company. While there, I've held three different positions. The first two were enjoyable; the third one is not. Because the company had some major layoffs, I had to move laterally to another department where neither the work nor my c~ workers are a good fit. Sitting here, trying to write my resume, I realize that by following the typical format of putting my last job first, I'll be emphasizing skills and experience I prefer not to use. I would rather not mention my current position, but don't know how to avoid it. Are there other ways to put together a resume aside from chronologically?

A: Yes, there is more than one way to write a good resume. In fact, people who only use the chronological format are limiting themselves to a structure that may not meet their needs. This traditional format, which lists last job first and accounts for every year since graduation, shows only "perfect" careers in their best light. The chronological resume can be downright detrimental for those who:

  • Have moved around a good deal;
  • Are changing careers;
  • Have gaps in their employment history;
  • Haven't achieved regularly increasing responsibility over time.

In your case, an alternative approach makes sense. Here are two suggestions for de-emphasizing your current job:

1.      Use the chronological format, but instead of listing your positions by date, change the order and substitute the number of years worked. Example:


1979 to present XYZ Corp., Dallas, Texas
            1986 to present Job C
            1983-86 Job B
            1979-83 Job A
1974-1979 MNO Company, Chicago, Illinois


1979 to present XYZ Corp., Dallas, Texas
            Job B-3 years  
            Job A-4 years  
            Job C-2 years  
1974-1979 MNO Company, Chicago, Illinois

This technique allows you to conform to the typical structure, keep the dates straight and put the positions you prefer at the top where they'll get the most attention.

2.      Try a more functional approach: emphasize the activities of your target job instead of describing previous positions. Example:

OBJECTIVE Sales management position where my background in training and Try to put your most impressive accomplishments on the top two-thirds of the first page mentoring sales people, building new markets and servicing large ac-counts will be prerequisites.


Training and Mentoring Sales People

  • Recruited and supervised more than 20 new and seasoned sales people for XYZ Corp.
  • Developed a sales training program that was adopted company-wide and led to a 36% growth in sales in 12 months.
  • (Add a couple of others.)

Building New Markets

  • Introduced the QPR widget to engineers through-out the Northeast. Achieved 42% market penetration in its first two years of production.
  • (List several other accomplishments that show you can perform this function.)

 Servicing Key Clients

  • (Discuss a few specific instances where your customer service has kept and built business with ongoing large accounts.)

After the experience section, you .can list companies, job titles and dates under the title EMPLOYMENT HISTORY, or you may choose to eliminate them altogether.

There is no one sure-fire way to format all resumes. However, here are some guidelines:

  1. Be sure to tailor your resume to the needs of your audience. While some interviewers may prefer a functional format, others may not trust it. Learn as much as you can about your resume's audience before you choose its structure and content.
  2. Use a format that feels right to you. A resume is a reflection of you on paper. If the functional format seems too avant-garde for your conservative personality, don't use it.
  3. Try to put your most impressive accomplishments on the top two-thirds of the first page. If your most responsible and enjoyable job ended several years ago, the chronological resume will bury it beneath the more recent, less interesting positions.
  4. Recognize that you may have to write more than one resume. The interpretation of your skills and experience that's perfect for one audience may be of little interest to another

 Career Dimensions ● 214-208-1706 ●

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