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Whether you've been out of work for a while or you're a recent college graduate without a long work history, a functional resume can work for you because you're primarily writing down your most relevant work experiences rather than arranging your work history by date. For example, if you're writing your resume as a college graduate and most of your experiences consisted of internships and volunteer work, you should include mainly the jobs that are relevant to the job you're applying to. If you're applying for a secretary position with a local law firm, you can mention that you interned with city hall as a public relations assistant.
With a functional resume, you trim down any unnecessary information and stick to your most important work experiences if you have a long work history and held many different positions. If you worked as a waitress, restaurant manager and head chef in a 10-year period and you're applying for a job as the manager of a wholesale restaurant supply store, you can narrow your resume by focusing on your experiences as a restaurant manager.
A disadvantage of having a functional resume is that it will look as if you lack a steady and stable work history because of possible gaps in this type of resume. Because of this, potential employers may assume that you're a "job hopper" who lacks the discipline and commitment to stick to a certain job for a long period of time. And because some functional resumes may not reflect a certain type of work history for a specific job, this could hinder your chances of landing an interview.
Before writing your resume, compile a list of all the jobs you held and determine whether a functional or chronological resume would be the best fit for you. You may also be able to write a combination resume, which blends aspects of both the functional and chronological resume. According to CareerBuilder, a combination resume can help you if you're trying to change careers but you don't have enough experience in the new career you're choosing.
Thea Theresa English is a freelance writer who lives in New Orleans. She has written articles on career development, maintaining healthy relationships, politics and cultural issues. She is currently a graduate student at Tulane University where she will receive her Master of Liberal Arts degree.