A resume to change careers – The functional resume format

Ok, so you’re switching fields.

You realize that teaching high school isn’t your thing, or that there really are a way too many numbers in accounting. Or maybe you’re a former military going back to regular life.

Whatever your new path is, you need a resume that doesn’t label you as the teacher, accountant or officer you’ve been over the last couple of years.

In resume-writing-speak, you need a resume with a functional format. Highlighting your skills instead of your previous job titles.

The chronological format won’t work for you

The resume format you’re probably most familiar with is the chronological format. This format presents your most recent experience at the top. It mirrors the so-called “corporate ladder” you’ve been climbing. It has a sense of direction; you should be applying for the next rung of your “logical” ladder.

But that’s not where you want to go. You don’t want a promotion! You want change. You want to try something new. So if you use a chronological resume format, it will raise some questions. “Why aren’t you making the next logical step in your career?”

Functional resume format to the rescue!

Here’s what’s really great about the functional format: it’s flexible. You can play with the message a lot more.

Under your Experience section, you will highlight a couple of relevant key skills. Choose them wisely. First, you want to put forward skills that are highly needed. But you also have to demonstrate that you do have those skills. Usually through specific accomplishments, or responsibilities you’ve held left and right throughout your career.

Let me give you a few examples.

If you want to be a teacher: teaching, writing, organization

If you want to get into sales: budgeting, negotiation, social skills

These skills become the headers of your “Professional Skills” section. Under each skill, you substantiate your claims with examples from many positions/degrees.

Very important: also have a “Career History” section, with minimal descriptions. You have to be transparent and clearly show where you’ve worked before. Here’s why: some people use a functional resume format to hide gaps in their employment history. If your history is hard to find, it makes you look suspicious.

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