How A Functional Resume Can Hide Bad Work History

updated by Joshua Brown  |  September 18, 2018

When creating a resume from scratch you should consider the people who will read your resume. Whether it be the direct hiring manager or a human resources coordinator, your resume should highlight what you are good at and hide any deficiencies. The functional resume is a great way to showcase your abilities and can be made to impress decision makers.

A functional resume allows you to emphasis your technical knowledge and transferable skills while taking the spotlight away from a lack of or poor work history. A functional resume accomplishes this by ordering the information presented in a flattering manner.

Functional Resume Format & Style

Personal Information and Technical Skills

Generally, a functional resume will leave off a professional summary or objective. The first section after your heading and personal information should be your technical knowledge and skills. This section will feature industry specific know-how and technical terms that you bring to the job. You should be finding relevant information to fill this section by browsing job listings for companies you are interested in. For example, if you are in the trades then your technical skills section would be filled with tools, equipment, and specific know-how that involves the trades.

Describing Your Past Experience

The next section of your functional resume involves some self-discovery and research. That’s because at this point in the resume you should be targeting specific jobs or industries you are interested in. These will of course depend on your experience and what you view as your future career goals. Keep in mind: if you are looking to change careers completely, you will need to re-examine your past work for transferable skills. These are skills that are similar or somehow related to new responsibilities you would take on in your new career.

 

Columns Functional Skills Resume Template

Functional Skills Resume

This resume will help you show off a diverse work history across many different companies or industries.

With your work history all at the bottom, so this is also a good resume for job-seekers looking to hide some employment gaps.

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On a standard resume this information would generally go underneath your detailed work history. But for a functional resume you will instead list these items under industry categories that reflect your past work history. This is crucial for those of you who may have worked in a variety of jobs and are looking to boil your past experience down to one resume. For example, I have had experience in sales, customer service, and web design. My experience section may look something like this:

Customer Service

  • Accomplishment sentence 1
  • Accomplishment sentence 2
  • Accomplishment sentence 3

Sales

  • Accomplishment sentence 1
  • Accomplishment sentence 2
  • Accomplishment sentence 3

Web Design

  • Accomplishment sentence 1
  • Accomplishment sentence 2
  • Accomplishment sentence 3

Education

The education section of your functional resume will be no different than on a normal resume. Be sure to include the name of the school, the city it is located in, your degree or field of study, and when you graduated. If you are a recent graduate or still in school and lacking experience then you may want to put the education section at the top of your resume.

Work History

The final section of your new functional resume will be the work history portion. This work history section will differ from a standard resume because it will not include work accomplishments, descriptions, or job duties. All you will include in this section is the name of the companies you worked for, the city they were in, the dates worked ( I prefer Month YYYY – Month YYYY formatting), and your job title. This section should be formatted identical to the education section. Try not to use too much formatting (Bold, Italics, Underlines) in these bottom sections. With a functional resume, we are trying to divert attention from these areas.


The ultimate goal of any resume is to get the interview so you can get the job. But the functional resume helps us with a more specific goal: convincing the decision maker.

As I’ve mentioned, a functional resume is great for people who have gaps in their employment, job hoppers, and those new to the job search. It’s successful because it gives employers the information they need up front while strategically positioning negative aspects of your work history.

Download any of our Functional Resume Templates by clicking here.