Putting the FUN in Functional Resumes!

Functional resumes always seem to get a bad rap, like they’re the ugly stepchildren of the resume pantheon. But it simply isn’t true! Just because the chronological style gets all the fame and glory doesn’t mean the functional style shouldn’t have its place in the sun too… it’s just a matter of knowing when to use it!

Functional style resumes are used for 2 reasons: 

1. To hide/ bury information

2. To condense similar information

Who should use it?

Job Hopping (for students)

Large work gaps

Lack of work history

Several positions in the same field

Those changing fields

How to use it:

  • Usually after an Objective or Personal Profile statement you’ll want to create a list of skills in point form under several categories
  • The categories you use should relate to major skill sets for the position. For example, if your goal is to work in a business environment you might include titles such as: Business Acumen, Technical Skills or Professional Expertise, while a Customer Service position might have titles such as Retail Knowledge or Sales Skills
  • For those without a work history this allows you to use transferrable skills you may have gained informally through volunteering, education or hobbies without having to point out exactly where you gained those skills
  • Then below your key word list you can put the work experience section, for those with large work gaps this helps to push the jobs lower on the resume and therefore less of a focus
  • If you are a student you can sometimes put your education higher on the resume after the skills list to communicate quickly that the resume belongs to a student since the graduation date will be highlighted. This will also make the job hopping seem less negative to the employer
  • For students, also make sure that when writing your work experience, include next to the dates that the job was “Seasonal” or a “Summer Job”.

Things to remember

The purpose of a functional style resume is to highlight and align your skills as closely as possible to what the employer is looking for by using key words from the job posting. The idea is that you’ll sell them on your suitability for the position within the first few seconds of reading your resume so that they might overlook any work gaps you may have. Don’t forget you can also use the cover letter as a vehicle for addressing work gaps as well.

What a Functional Resume won’t do!

It won’t allow you to omit dates. A lack of dates is a definite red flag!

Make up or change your work history

If you held a job for only a few months and it’s not relevant to the position you’re trying to achieve remove it, there’s no rule that says you must include every job you ever had!

Some examples

Functional Style – Business

Functional Style – Several positions in same field

Functional Style  – Work gap



Freaky Friday!

With the start of the new year it seems inevitable that predictions for 2014 will be coming out fast and furious, I’ve seen articles on everything from how resumes will change (or become obsolete) to what jobs will be hot or not, to interview and networking innovations.  So how do you, the job seeker, sift through everything to find the real gems?


This article on Careerrealism about resumes is good, but don’t forget the concept has to “fit” your field, don’t jump on a bandwagon just because it seems trendy!


Cover letters

I’ve always advised job-seekers that when sending a resume your best bet is to copy your cover letter into the body of the email as well as including it in the attached resume, but lately a newer concept has started to take shape. It’s called an e-note.

Wendy Enelow and Loise Kursmark state that an e-note is basically a concise and focused version of the traditional cover letter that is meant to briefly communicate your career story and/or 3-4 of the most valuable assets you can offer a potential employer. Based on this approach, the body of the email would be a much more targeted and condensed version of the cover letter, while the expanded version is still included as an attachment to the email. I think this method makes sense given the lack of time most employers have when screening candidates.



Here are just two (of many!) career prediction articles I’ve seen lately:



It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the job advice on the internet, but just stay focused on what’s relevant to your goal and you’re sure to find the silver lining!



Uncovering the mystery of a Good Cover Letter

What does your cover letter say about you?

What does your cover letter say about you?

The secret to writing a good cover letter…it should be customized to each employment posting! The tailored cover letter is the first formal document the employer reads about you.

Uncovering the Mystery:

  • Does your cover letter capture the employer’s interest/attention?
  • Does it connect you to the position?
  • Does it emphasize that you are a perfect fit for the position?
  • Does it convey that you have knowledge about the company?
  • Is it professional in tone and appearance?
  • Have you made a great first impression?
  • Have you included your branding?
  • Is the letter head consistent with what you used on your resume and reference sheet?
  • Is it free of errors?
  • Did you address the cover letter to a specific person?  (and quote the job number)
  • Is it one page in length? (clear and concise)
  • Did you use high-impact accomplishment statements?
  • Did you have a friend or colleague review it?

If you take the time to develop a tailored cover letter which is professional, visually attractive, easy to read and has a good balance you have completed the first step in the process to land yourself an interview with the company you are applying for. Next step for you is a customized…..Resume!

Melanie Graham is a Continuing Education Student currently studying within the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, www.mcaces.ca or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at Lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.

Only As Good As The Next Movie Trailer

With the number of available jobs dwindling amidst a growing millennium workforce, a resume is much like that of a movie trailer. Think about it! You’re a movie producer that has just spent several years and millions of dollars creating a fantastic feature film. How do you promote the film? Nine times out of ten you will create a trailer that leaves enough of a taste in the viewer’s mouth that they will want to see the movie. If the movie poster icon that appears on the preferred internet browser, appeals to the viewer then it’s clicked on to learn more. If all works according to plan the next thing is the emergence of a trailer which entices the viewer with snippets of scenes that should compel them to actively purchase a ticket for the next show.

Well in the world of cover letters and resumes it’s roughly the same principal. Think about it! You have spent several years either honing your skill set, or educating yourself to get recognized as a valued contributor in a career vertex of your choice. Hmm sounds similar to that movie producer? Does it not? How you get yourself noticed depends on how you promote your wares. In the realm of job searching the cover letter now equates itself to the movie icon appearing on the browser.  The image portrayed through words on the cover letter, must be compelling enough, that the reader is enticed to know more. If the potential employer turns the page (or clicks on the attached resume icon) then the cover letter has done its job. Now it’s all up to the resume (aka the trailer), to bring it home to cause either a click to reply or even better a phone call.

Therefore, as you prepare your cover letter and resume for the next job opportunity, take the time to click on a couple of movie icons, and notice how quickly (or how slowly) the producers are trying to grab your attention. Was the movie icon was appealing to you? How was it appealing? When you viewed the trailer, did it compel you to purchase a ticket or close the window after the first 3 seconds? By putting the effort into promoting yourself as would a movie producer can produce positive results. It will make the difference between getting a request to see your feature presentation, or being quickly brushed aside for to make room for the next “big ticket” trailer.

Christopher Grice is a Continuing Education Student currently studying with the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, www.mcaces.ca or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at Lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca

When it comes to job search, you’re the show!