Today, in the second installment of my Laid Off series, let’s talk about resumes. Let’s face it, with so many people out of work and so many fewer employers hiring, there’s going to be a lot of competition for each job. A potential employer is likely to spend only 10-15 seconds examining your resume before moving on to the next one. If the particular skills she’s looking for don’t jump out at her, your resume will never qualify for a closer look.
I’ve recommended it before, and I’ll recommend it again. Regina Pontow’s book, Proven Resumes, is awesome. I’m not affiliated with Ms. Pontow or her book in any way. It was recommended to me a number of years ago as the best book for developing a resume that will get you interviews, and I must agree with that assessment. She takes you step by step through the process of creating a functional resume and tailoring your resume for the job you want. I’ve found my resumes sent to interviews gained ratio vastly improved after I used her book to revamp my resume.
What is a Functional Resume?
Traditionally, resumes have been formatted to list each job in a chronological order, with a list of duties associated with that job. A functional resume turns that around. It lists your experience and skills based on function so that you highlight what you’ve done and know up front, and potential employers don’t have to read the whole resume word for word to tell if you have the requirements they want.
What Does a Functional Resume Look Like?
I’ve uploaded one of my resumes here (it’s a MS Word file, so you’ll need Word or a viewer to open it). If you look at it, you’ll see that I have my vital experience listed by category of work: Executive Support, Document Preperation, Software Skills, Event Planning, etc. Under each of those categories, I have details of the work I’ve done in those areas.
When a potential employer looks at this resume, he can immediately see that I have the experience he’s looking for if I’ve formatted my resume well. He doesn’t have to wade through a list of employers and job titles to find my relevant experience.
The Real Beauty of the Functional Resume
A functional resume can be easily and quickly adapted for a particular job. In addition to the categories you can see on the resume I linked, I have other categories saved in a document that I can cut and paste into the resume as needed. These include Technical Support, Medical Support, Graphic Design, and Website Production. This way, I can tailor each resume for the specific job I’m applying to. I can also move sections around so that the items meeting particular job requirements are closer to the top of the page than ones not specified. I actually have four different resumes saved which target different types of jobs.
Remember, your resume is the very first impression you give a potential employer. Check if over with a fine tooth comb. Make sure your spelling is perfect. Don’t trust spellcheck alone. It can miss things. Ideally have someone else proof it for you (see my previous post on proofreading for some tips). Check that all your fonts are matching, that your margins all match, and that everything looks very professional. If your resume is more than one page, make sure your name is on each page.
One last note, don’t worry about using fancy paper and envelopes to make your resume stand out. Odds are, a secretary or clerk is going to get your resume, photocopy it for the person doing the hiring, and put the original in the HR files. All colored and patterned paper does is make it more difficult to photocopy clearly, which can be a strike against you. I know all those resume sites recommend standing out with color or fancy paper, but my experience as an admin says the boss isn’t likely to see it.
Don’t wait to apply for jobs until you have a perfect resume, but definitely start revamping that resume so you can start using it as soon as possible.