Functional Resume Format

A functional resume emphasizes your skills and talents rather than your experience.

The functional resume is recommended most often for recent graduates and others new to the work force. A functional resume is typically broken into several sections, called nodes. The applicant then describes his or her skills, education, and experience as it relates to each node.

Here’s an example of a functional resume node:

  • Computer Programming (This is the node heading)
  • University of Maryland – College of Computer Science and Engineering
    • 1994 – 1998 | B.S. in Computer Science
    • 3.35 Cumulative GPA; Dean’s List during final three semesters
  • 1997 – 1998 | Designed and maintained Pi Sigma Epsilon fraternity web site.
  • 1995 – present | Active member of a local CIS/IT club, Maryland Regional IT Professionals (MRITP).
  • 1997 | Built custom in-house accounting system for a local nonprofit organization.
  • Advanced abilities in the programming languages of Pascal, Python, C++, and Visual Basic.
  • IIS Web Server administration experience, Windows Server 2003 MCSE Certified.

As you can see, the information within the node is all related to the heading. While this applicant does not have an extraordinary amount of experience, this concentrated node emphasizes all the things about him/her as related to computer programming. If this were in a chronological format, the employer wouldn’t so easily be able to deduce all of the applicant’s skills, experience, and education related to computer programming.

When you start writing a functional resume it’s best to choose several node headings and then brainstorm everything about your skills and experiences that support each node. If you’re having difficulty deciding what you should use for node headings, put yourself in the shoes of the employer and think about what they’re looking for. If you’re applying for jobs in a very small field, your node headings can be more narrow and specific. If you’re open to any job from waitress to accountant, you should broaden the node headings. You should customize your resume if you’re applying for a variety of jobs – include the most relevant nodes that a particular employer is likely to be interested in.

Reasons to use a functional resume

The functional resume is very flexible. Because of its node-based structure, you are given a lot of freedom to decide what you want to include and embellish, and what you would rather avoid broadcasting about yourself. This is much more difficult to achieve in a chronological resume.

A lot of people learn skills and develop talents outside of school. I know several computer programmers who have little or no formal education, but who have skills exceeding those of other people I know who have degrees in computer science. The more talented friend of mine without a formal education wouldn’t stand a chance at getting an interview if he used a chronological resume, whereas he can even the playing field if he leverages a functional resume format to highlight his skills.

Functional resumes can gloss over gaps in your work record. If you spent a couple years deciding what you wanted to do before entering college or the work force, it will stick out like a sore thumb on a chronological resume. On a functional resume such gaps aren’t quite so obvious. The format encourages employers to look at your abilities rather than your shortcomings.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.