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5 Tips on Making Your Chronological Resume a Functional Resume

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People normally think of a chronological résumé as the “standard” résumé, but there are many different kinds of résumés, and each serves a different purpose. If you happen to be changing careers, have a gap in employment, or want to better customize your résumé for a particular job, you should consider using what’s called a functional résumé, rather than a chronological one.

A functional résumé (examples here and here) can help job seekers by focusing more on skills, abilities and accomplishments than positions held and length of work experience. It can also make your skill sets stand out by highlighting what you can do, rather than when you did it. Here are some basic steps to developing a persuasive functional résumé:

Make a Complete List of Skills

The first step in developing your functional résumé is to take some time and do some brainstorming. It’s important to really put some thought into this part of the process so you don’t overlook any skills you might have gained from all of your work and life experiences. Write down all of your skills and abilities. Leave nothing out and don’t worry about organizing them. Just get everything you can do written down; you’ll organize the list later. For now, you want to make sure no skill is forgotten.

Edit Your List

Now that you have a complete list of your skills and abilities, it’s time to edit it. This is when you tailor your list of skills to the type of job (or specific job listing) you’re trying to get. As you review the skills you wrote down, make lists of accomplishments and achievements that demonstrate those skills. Determine which are your strongest skills and which ones you have the most experience with. Identify which abilities are the most relevant to your job hunt and which ones have the most concrete accomplishments to use as support on your résumé.

Arrange Your Résumé

Once you have a fleshed-out list of skills with supporting accomplishments and achievements, you should arrange your résumé in order of importance, not in chronological order. Start with the skills that have the most relevance to the job you are trying to get. If your résumé is too bulky, leave out any skills or accomplishments that don’t speak directly to the position you’re seeking. Make sure you begin your statements with active verbs and that you’re using specific examples of work you’ve done using or developing the skills you are referencing.

Add a Summary Statement

To make your functional résumé stand out, use a summary statement at the beginning. Leave out the “to get XYZ job” objective statement, and create a couple of sentences that summarize your experience and skill sets. It should be a shortened version of what your résumé spells you out to be. Your summary statement should quickly explain to the recruiter or hiring manager why he should keep reading your résumé. Remember that hiring managers see lots of résumés, so you need to write something that will catch his attention and make him take a closer look at you.

Complete Your Résumé

Even though you aren’t focusing on a chronological review of your work history, your functional résumé won’t be complete without a list of your past positions. At the end of your résumé, do include a brief, bulleted list of your employment history, as well as your education. You should list the type of position you held, the dates you held it and the name of the company who employed you. You should also include a list of any certifications or extra training you have that might apply to your specific industry. And don’t forget: no résumé is complete without a thorough review for any typos, errors or confusing statements. Have someone take a look at it for you before you send it out.

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