In Memoriam: Obituary of the (Dys)Functional Resume

Dawn Burke Dawn Hrdlica, Resumes, Working With Recruiters


The Functional Resume, known more affectionately as “the confusing one” and “the manipulator” died today after a long steady decline.  The age of Functional Resume was unknown, since he refused to notate any of his works or accomplishments chronologically.

Functional Resume, born by professors and consultants, was a friend to job seekers convinced (by the same professors and consultants) that their experience was too limiting to be forthright.  Functional Resume was an outspoken advocate of praying on the naivety of candidates; candidates taught by generations past, that diverse, non-traditional career paths were shameful and that wordsmithing, trickery and deception were better paths into recruiting gatekeepers.  

Sadly, Functional Resume drew his last breath with the evolution of work-life balance, dual career paths, the emergence of Merger and acquisitions, and the economic crash of 2008-09.  These events lead recruiters to simply not care if a resume showed a less than steady chronological workflow, since it was a sign of the times.  

Functional Resume will be buried alongside of facsimile, typewriter, telegraph and dictaphone.


If you haven’t heard—functional resumes are dead.  And if they aren’t—then I am here to put them out of their misery.  

For those of you who don’t know, a functional resume is an alternative to the traditional chronological resume. It’s typically used when someone has no experience and instead of listing out jobs you list out your functional skill sets.

Why am I mad? I was talking to a colleague the other day…an HR professional, in transition. She was asking me about transitioning back into the HR world after owning her own business for 3 years.  During our conversation she shared with me that professional recruiters with HR backgrounds told her to use a functional resume.  As I was scratching my head I had to probe some more.


“But you have 10 years of HR experience, right?”


“And you then ran your own business for 3 years including staffing and HR compliance?”


“Why on earth were you advised to use a functional resume?”

In the 2 years since I sold my business, I’ve been working contracts. I was told it was too much of a gap. It shows I am not relevant or up to date?

I then went in the bathroom and threw up.  Well, in my mind.


So, from a recruiter’s perspective here is my advice to job seekers. It’s all about transferable skills.  It’s not about gussying up your credentials through big blocks of text; it’s not about focusing on long tenures in an era where everyone is being laid off. It is about showing depth, courage, resiliency and adaptability. 


Why am I frustrated with functional resumes and professionals who recommend them?

a)    If I see a functional resume, I know you are trying to hide something.  Or someone has advised you to hide something.

b)   They are difficult to read-too much text, no CONTEXT.

c)    They give the recruiter too much power.  Why?  By eliminating important details such as chronological order to your accomplishments, candidates are letting recruiters fill in the blanks for your story.  Never a good idea.

d)   It makes me believe that you are not confident enough with your work history or skills to be confident enough to work for my organization.


Lastly and most importantly:


e)   If you don’t have any work experience-GET SOME.  You don’t need an extensive resume to work at McDonald’s or Bed Bath and Beyond.  Swallow your pride, get some experience and write a real chronological resume. You’ll have fun and you will have started your career honestly.