Why a Functional Resume Won't Land You a Job

By Red Letter Resumes

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The Resume Format That Will Ruin Your Resume by Red Letter Resumes LLC


Even Resume Writers Have Stopped Using This Format & You Should Too


Resumes go through trends like any other business. It can be confusing, and a lot of effort to find the best format for your industry and your experience. It's our full-time job to stay on top of these trends and know what formats work best for each client. So here is an insider secret we’d like to share with you. There is one format we've stopped using all together and you should too.


This resume became popular for those with gaps in their employment history or those who were shifting gears in their career and wanting to branch into a new direction. Unlike the standard chronological resume that lists your work history from most recent backward, a functional resume focuses solely on your core skills with brief examples of how you put them into action and an even skimpier listing of past employers. It lacks a lot of the depth and information a typical resume presents, and that is part of the problem.

The idea behind the functional resume is that it paints you in a more flattering light by leading off with your best skills while hiding job hopping, inexperience in the desired field, or time you spent unemployed. This makes sense, in theory, but it fails in practice. Recruiters and hiring managers see this format as a red flag, and many will toss it out for that very reason. They know you're hiding something, and you're not fooling anyone with it.

Think of it like this; it is like taking a picture with Vaseline on the lens in a world that expects HD!

If the likelihood of this resume landing in a hiring manager’s trash bin isn’t enough to convince you to stop using this format, let’s look more closely at some of the ways it fails you.

The functional setup is entirely too subjective. Most people don't provide enough quantifiable data on their resume in general. This format is even weaker when it comes to hard facts. The skills section tends to be very vague and lacking the concrete examples employers look for to examine how you've put concepts into practice. Not to mention, most people don’t have a great understanding of their real skills, to begin with, so these lists look more like personality profiles rather than a culmination of their professional abilities. These types of lists do almost nothing to help employers visualize your value.

Resumes are tricky business. You must understand the point of view of the people reviewing them. They're not looking for your opinion of yourself but solid examples of where you've been and what you've contributed while you're there. Dates of employment, titles, and the scope of your work are just plain essentials! A functional resume just skims over all those points and comes off as more of a career biography.

Employers don't have time to read this long narrative nor do they want that type of record of your past employment. They need A LOT more information than you are giving them yet they have no desire, or investment in you at this preliminary stage, to seek it out.

Steer clear of this formatting and stick with the chronological resume. Even if you've had a slight gap or you want to change industries there are better ways to explain and identify this information. A functional resume massively undersells you!

Write your resume based on your merits and you won't go wrong. Many people are taking time off or trying out new paths in their career these days that it's not as big of a problem as it used to be. Trying to hide it makes it looks like there is an issue. Be straightforward with where you've been and where you're going but be ready to answer questions. A good hiring manager will ask you questions about gaps or why you left your own role behind. If you can explain them honestly yet professionally, it shouldn't stop you from landing a great role. 


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