Make Functional Resumes Work for You

You need a summer job. You've scanned the newspaper's classified section and you've found what seems like the perfect job. The local golf course is looking for a student to cut grass, maintain greens and work in the pro shop.

The ad tells you to drop off your resume at the front office. Resume? Oh, no. What could you possibly put on your resume? You love golf, and you know how to cut grass, but you've never had a real job before. What should you do?

The answer for many high school students (and people with little job experience) is to write a functional resume rather than the typical chronological resume. A chronological resume lists job experience from most to least recent employment. A functional resume is much different.

A functional resume lists all kinds of experience -- whether volunteer or paid -- under individual headings that highlight relevant skills.

"Functional resumes allow you to group skills areas together in order to convince an employer you can fill the specific requirements of the job," explains Lynne O'Connor. She is a resume writing professional.

For example, if you're applying for your first job, forget about creating a chronological list of work you have done. That won't convince an employer to hire you.

Instead, you could use a functional resume to your advantage. Start by thinking about skills that might be important in the job. One sample heading in the resume could be lawn management.

Under this heading, you might list that you voluntarily cut your neighbor's lawn once a week. You could also list the different tools used and skills mastered during this work.

You could create another heading called golf experience and demonstrate your knowledge of the game. In addition, you might create a heading called customer service and talk about volunteer experience running the concession stand at school.

A functional resume is often just the tool needed to highlight skills that wouldn't be so apparent if you wrote the traditional chronological resume.

Learning Goals

At the completion of this Building Skills article, you should be able to:

  • Determine if a functional resume would suit your needs
  • Pick appropriate skill areas to highlight in your resume
  • Create a functional resume