Creating a strong resume

Sandra J. Bishop, president of Executive Solutions, is an executive coach and career strategist.

Last time, we did a deep dive on chronological resumes.

This week we will cover the functional resume.  If you are considering switching professions or industries, re-entering after a work gap, or have just received a degree in an area that you have never had any work experience, the functional resume is for you!

Why?  If developed correctly, it will identify and aggregate those skills, functions or experience that you want to highlight as you transition anew.

The functional resume will focus on skills specific to the type of position desired.  This resume is designed to convince the prospective employer that you possess those skills that will be useful in the career and position you are applying for.  Past work experiences may be viewed by prospective employers as irrelevant, unless your transferable skills are clearly identified and transition well into the new position.

The style of a functional resume is below:

First begin with a career summary.  This  summary should run no longer than 100 words and describes your industry, experience, expertise, personal strengths, any distinctive qualities and education.  (See my last blog.)

Secondly, an objective is essential.  State emphatically the type of position you are looking for.

The next section is perhaps the most important part of the functional resume.  State your area of expertise (i.e. contract law, medical malpractice, divorce law, child custody, general litigation, investment banking, corporate finance, etc.).  Under each  header, you list your most successful accomplishments in each area quantifying (when possible)  using a $, % or #.  As you will notice, dates are not used in this section.

For example:

Employment Law

• Litigated employment discrimination cases in federal/state court, including winning, as second chair, age-discrimination federal case brought by six prosecutors against Aurora, CO, District Attorney.

• Prosecuted employee-discipline cases in union-heavy city with 26,000 employees, interacting with management to maintain integrity of workplace by ensuring that discipline sticks.

• Dispensed advice on employee counseling, discipline, terminations and wage issues.

Management/ Leadership

• Supervised junior attorneys and paralegal; previously supervised junior attorneys and investigators.

• Enlisted community involvement regarding concerns of families, women and children as Commissioner.

• Aurora, CO Commission on the Status of Women; facilitated community “speak ups” as committee member.

• Established Courtroom Advocate Program for victims of sexual assault as member of Association for Women Attorneys,  Denver, CO.

Follow the above with a brief section on professional history.   List name(s) of your company and positions held, with dates of employment.

After education is listed, you can end by stating any significant professional associations, all legal licenses and military service.

The functional resume may come off confusing and may make the employer suspicious of your intentions, but if done correctly, it can really pack a punch!  Don’t be afraid if it serves your purposes well.  While it is not commonly used, it can be just as effective — especially in the current environment — where many employers are becoming more open to change.

See you next time!


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