functional resumes are badClients who have challenging issues in their resumes are often told not to use a chronological resume, but I strongly believe that functional resumes are bad.I’m truly surprised when I hear that a functional resume is a good idea for those who have employment gaps, or whose job titles don’t convey the full extent of their competencies. This advice may be well-intentioned, but it’s just wrong because it impresses exactly nobody, nor does it throw anyone off the fact of unemployment gaps.

Why are functional resumes bad?

The top trend in resume writing is to focus on specific achievements that demonstrate your skills without without merely stating them. When I write a client’s resume, I greatly reduce the bulleted lists of functions under each position, and focus instead on a curated list of that candidate’s actual accomplishments. Here are some examples; each is from a different client’s resume:

  • Overcame licensor refusals to authorize specific products, channels, and franchises through negotiation to carve out concessions resulting in annual revenues of $500K+
  • Reduced processing times by 60% by performing data analysis of over 340K financial transactions for major lending institution to confirm accuracy of 17 types of fee charges
  • Led Company X to be the first to achieve ISO compliance in regulatory reporting in the UK for green-filed water utility, creating a mathematical model to reconcile water balance and leakage and Al recognition-based CCTV analysis of unmanned field data
  • Decreased communication inefficiencies by 50% by implementing use of iPads onsite to facilitate real time data sharing, and allowing for faster turnaround in transmitting designs to sales reps
  • Designed United Way and Bag Hunger campaigns for 885 Macy’s & Bloomingdales locations that led to 215% ($14M) annual growth in employee giving

Why is this approach better?

This approach limits reliance on functional responsibilities (that do nothing but provide potential employers with a laundry list of what you did over the years) but provides instances of work you did where your involvement had a positive benefit on your company, organization, and even (for students) a group project or internship.

Because I’ve been challenged on this issue so often by so-called experts, I decided to ask the people whose opinion really matters: recruiters and hiring managers. I have an extensive network of both on LinkedIn, so I sent each of them a survey questionnaire to confirm that I’m not the only one who thinks that functional resumes are a bad idea. The responses were unanimous; EVERYONE agreed that they dislike functional resumes. Read what they had to say here

So the next time someone helpfully suggests that a functional resume is better, ignore them. Functions alone add little to how employers regard your resume, so focus instead on what you’ve actually accomplished.

For help writing a great resume, read about my pricing and process.

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