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Is Your Functional Resume Keeping You Unemployed?

What Are You Trying to Hide?Recruiters and headhunters throw them out, employers get frustrated by them, and many job boards won't accept them.

So why are some job seekers still using functional resumes? Because for a long time, functional resumes were widely considered the best way to camouflage employment gaps or a lack of experience.

These days, it seems they’ve become more like a flashing neon sign that screams, "I'm trying to hide something!" 

Award-winning resume writer and career strategist Barbara Safani thinks functional resumes should be renamed dysfunctional resumes. She says: "... if you’ve been leaning towards creating a functional resume to position yourself in front of a potential employer, you are probably headed in the wrong direction."

A purely functional resume emphasizes your skill sets rather than your employment history. When functional resumes became popular, the idea was to impress readers with your skills and strengths before they found out you hadn't worked for 10 years, or that you've never actually worked in the field you're targeting (not that there's anything wrong—or unusual—with either scenario.)

Unfortunately, for functional resumes to work, employers would actually have to read them. But they don't. Usually, they start off with a 10-second scan to quickly look for things like:

  • Obvious typos or errors,
  • Where you're from,
  • Whether you have relevant qualifications,
  • Your past job titles,
  • The level of responsibility you've reached, and
  • Where and when you acquired your experience.

A functional resume hides those details, which forces the reader to hunt for the desired information. But will they? Not according to executive recruiter Brad Remillard, who's conducted more than 50,000 interviews in the past 30 years. He says simply: "I don’t read them. It is obvious when one has a functional resume they are trying to hide something and I’m rarely going to take the time to attempt to figure it out."

One other problem with functional resumes? Job boards and applicant-tracking systems might not be able to figure out how to store the data, since the "usual" sections are missing or out of order.

Your Best Bet? Chronological…with a Functional Twist
To ensure readers can find the information they want on your resume, you need to include a reverse-chronological listing of your past jobs. But first, borrow a little of the functional flair by opening your resume with a Summary of Qualifications that spotlights your most important skills, credentials, and accomplishments. This type of combination, or hybrid, resume is a good idea for most job seekers.

Having gaps in your resume is not a deal breaker. But trying to hide those gaps in a functional resume may be. Instead, use a combination resume, write a killer cover letter, and put your network to work for you!

We'd love to hear what HR people, recruiters, or other hiring professionals think about functional resumes. Or, if you're a job seeker who has used a functional resume, let us know how it worked! Post a comment below!

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