How To Write Functional Resumes: Tips for Writing a Resume

Learn About Making a Resume Relevant to Each Job Application

Filling up application form

True or False:  When writing a resume, you should highlight all of your qualifications and accomplishments, list your previous employers, starting with the most recent and working backwards, and arrange the resume in such a way that it can be used for multiple job applications in a variety of fields.  If you answered False, good! 

The key to writing a successful resume is to tailor it to fit the type of position you are applying for, not to generalize it so you can just make twenty copies at Kinko's and scatter them all over office supply stores, accounting firms, and zoos (what?  People work at the zoo...).  What's the best way to create a job-specific resume?  I'm so glad you asked, and I'll give you a few easy steps that will answer that question and give you the tools you need to make your resume shine. 

Here's how to write a functional resume.

  1. The first step to develop a clear, concise, and creative resume is to start with a good template.  A carpenter doesn't build a house without a blueprint, at least a good carpenter doesn't, and so you should have a blueprint as well.  As is discussed in one of the other articles, "How to Download Resume Templates," there are many websites that can give good advice and offer examples to make your resume stand out from the pack. 

    A site I highly recommend investigating is  Yes, you can purchase and download the latest version of Zoo Tycoon or Halo for your gaming needs, but you can also download, for FREE, an almost endless number of resume templates in a variety of different categories.  You can check out basic resume outlines, as well as job-specific and situation-specific examples (such as resumes for a career change or for an entry-level or executive position).  You can even find examples and templates for cover letters as well as references and recommendations.

  2. When deciding on a functional resume template, consider these questions:
    • For what type of position are you applying (an executive spot in an office or the lead role in a professional theatre production)?
    • To what type of company are you submitting your resume (a small, conservative law office or a hip, newly-formed advertising firm)?

    The answers to the questions above will help you determine whether to present your resume in a traditional, no-nonsense fashion, or in a more contemporary, funky-fonts design.  Some companies will prefer you have a simple, one-page resume; others will want to see your creativity and personality expressed more in your resume design.

  3. Once you have decided on a template style that will fit the job type you are applying for, use it to format your resume by plugging your own information into the fields on the example.  Use bold print, italics, underlining and capital letters when called for to give depth to the pages as well as to highlight company names and job titles.
  4. Next, make sure that when listing your qualifications or achievements you use descriptive, action words.  Citing something like, "Employee of the Month for four months" might not stand out as well as, "Successfully achieved Employee of the Month status for four months."  Both sentences give the same information, but the second is a bit more animated and shows a sense of pride in the accomplishment.  
  5. With each previous job, highlight three or four duties performed that have a connection to the position you are currently applying for, and try to accent different responsibilities with each job.  For example, if you were in charge of inventory control at three different companies, it is probably not necessary to list this role for every company.  Instead, you may want to adjust the wording of the assignment with the next company, or focus on a specific duty within inventory control that you were particularly knowledgeable about.
  6. Lastly, and above all else, use spell-check!!  If you don't have that kind of function on your computer, use another person as your grammar and spelling checker, and have them read over your resume for mistakes or phrases that don't read clearly.  This is one of the most crucial resume writing tips.  If you do have a spell-check option, use it!  The one thing that will frustrate a potential employer and keep you from the top of the list is a resume with too many simple errors.  If you use "it's" instead of "its," or "recieve" instead of "receive," it gives the impression that you did not spend the time to perfect your resume, and thus might not spend the time to perfect your job with the company.

These tips for writing a resume will help you get started. Keep your resume simple and concise, one to two pages as a standard is plenty long enough (if applying for a specific job that requires an extended list of abilities and achievements, of course, it may be longer). 

Remember, an employer will read more functional resumes than just your own, and they certainly won't read yours if it is four, very descriptive pages long, single-spaced! Your resume is sure to stand out from the rest if it is expertly displayed, creatively written, and flawlessly organized, and with perfect grammar and a sense of style you'll be at the head of the class in no time. Good luck making a resume!


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