How to Format Your Resume
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:
- Have gaps in their work history
- Recently graduated from school
- Are re-entering the workforce
- Have frequently changed jobs
- Are looking to transition into new careers
- Don't exactly fit the mould of what recruiters are looking for in the positions they want
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
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
Human Resources: Training and Development
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.
Still Not Sure About Your Resume Format?
Your specific circumstances will not only determine whether you choose a chronological or functional resume format, but also how big of a challenge it’ll be to organize your work history. Concerned that you’ll be overlooked in favor of candidates with more traditional applications? Let Monster’s Resume Writing Service handle it for you. A certified resume writing expert who’s familiar with your field will review your credentials and create a strong, professional resume tailored to the job to which you’re applying. We know a job search is hard work—let Monster take some of the stress off your back.