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I have written a lot of resumes. If I had to guess, I would say that it’s probably near the 1,000 mark. In previous jobs, it was my responsibility to write killer resumes for people with less than stellar work histories….for example, maybe they had never worked in their career of choice, maybe they were job jumpers, or maybe they just got out of prison…..yes, that really happened. More than once. In fact, we had a whole program devoted to people who had mental illness and/or substance abuse issues who were involved in the legal system. But I digress…

My point is, that most of the job seekers in the world rely on your standard, chronological resume. This is fine, great even, IF you have a knock-out work history. If, however, you have moved a lot, switched careers, are thinking about switching careers, or had some unconventional jobs (for example, making license plates in the state penitentiary), than a functional resume is likely to be more your style.

So, what does a functional resume look like?

A functional resume highlights skills and attributes instead of work experience. Don’t get me wrong, you probably still need some experience, but your former jobs may not be as important as the skills you learned there.

The way I typically write a functional resume is a little bit different than most people, but I have found that it helps the resume to stand out from the crowd. One thing that is important to remember is that, while chronological resumes can sometimes break the “one-page” rule, I believe that functional resumes should really be only one page. Otherwise, it looks like you are just listing a bunch of stuff on the page with no real focus.

So, the headings that I use on a functional resume are as follows:

Name and Contact Information – (Obviously, just put your name at the top…no need to title the section)

Summary of Qualifications – 2 or three sentences explaining why you are qualified for the position you are applying to – looks better if you change this for every job you apply to. You can also call this an Objective, or you can simply write the statement with no heading.

Qualifications (or Skills) – I then break this section down into 3 separate categories, based on the job. For example, on my own resume I would break it down into Interpersonal Skills, Computer Skills, and Management Skills. I would then add 5 or 6 bullet points under each sub-heading. Be sure to list any relevant accomplishments in this section (saving or making money for a company is ALWAYS an accomplishment!)

Education – List your education.

Work Experience – List only the name of your employer and your job title. If your work history is pretty solid, you can add dates, but if you have jumped around a lot or haven’t worked in a while, I would leave them off. They’ll ask for them at the interview, but get your foot in the door first.

The Education and Work Experience sections are interchangeable. Put whichever is more impressive first. For example, if you have an MBA, but have only ever worked in fast-food because you just graduated, list your education first. But, if you have worked at GM for twenty years and only have a high school diploma, put your work experience first.

One Last Thing

I went through a period recently when I thought I wanted to change careers, but I was more motivated to relocate. Instead of having one resume and sending it out to everyone, I had 2 functional resumes (one for Marketing, and one for Consulting – neither of which I had ever done) and 2 chronological resumes (one for non-profits, and one for business management). I was very selective in who got which resume. Granted, they all had basically the same information on them, but they were worded and formatted specifically for the job to which I applied. I would highly recommend having at least 2 resumes (I may have gone overboard, I admit) for the purpose of sending appropriate material to your selected audience.

If you have a resume that you would like to have reviewed, feel free to email it to me. I’ll be happy to take a look. Please do not send attachments, though, because I won’t open them! Just copy it into the body of your email.

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Sometimes a resume comes to me that makes me wonder how this person has ever been employed in the first place.  There is one resume in particular that stands out in my mind, and I’m going to list a few parts of this resume that are of particular interest, and tell you why it’s so terrible, in case it is not obvious.

 

Let’s start at the beginning

PERMANENT ADDRESS

Clinton Township, MI 48038

 

This is the heading on the resume.  I have not edited it.  There is no name, and no contact information AT ALL!  How can I hire you if you are anonymous????

Employment Experience

 

This person proceeded to list about 3 PAGES of work experience.  The fonts were all different, there was no logical form of outlining, and none of the jobs were at all relevant to the job he was seeking.  Here are a few of my favorite entries (Again, the fonts are as they were on the resume):

 

Hammell Music, Utica, MI

Piano Sales  June 2000 – August 2000

-Acquired experience in piano sales

 MBIG Music Business Internet Guide, New York, NY

Employee, August 1997 – August 1998

-Researched several unknown music web site locations.

 South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD

Student, August 1996 – May 1999

-Studied basic information about many woodwind, brass, percussion and string instruments through instrumental method classes.

 

 Asbury College, Wilmore, KY

Student, September 1989 – May 1994

-Studied basic information about many woodwind, brass, percussion and string instruments through instrumental method classes.

 

For the first two entries, I cannot for the life of me figure out how this person was an asset to either of these companies.  As for the 3rd and 4th “jobs”……….if you already listed your education (which he did) why are you using your student status as work experience???  FYI guys, being a student, difficult as it may be, does not qualify as work experience.  And by the way, your musical expertise does you no good in an administrative assistant position, unless of course you new boss enjoys having his memos sung to him and accompanied by the oboe. 

 

 

Is it really that special?

 

SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS

 Languages: fluent in both Spanish and English.

Computer Programs:

-AS400 (recording dealer calls, searching for customers’ information, checking Mopar library, assisting vehicle dealers with their needs, and many others)

-Power Point (for lectures)

-Microsoft Word (including cut and paste, copy, clear, screen-print, font size variation, and Microsoft graphics), willing to go through typing test to show the typing speed

-Outlook (calendar and email)

-Excel (using for Ford dealership information, mathematics), using this program in fun ways

-TASAR (reserving airplane tickets, getting voucher information, confirming reserved flights, answering questions about baggage allowances, giving airport telephone numbers)

-Appleworks 6.0 (Macintosh version of word processing)

  

Ok, first off, this formatting is just terrible.  He says he can use word, yet he can’t put in some bullet points or something?  And, why is the entire resume centered???  Also, while I didn’t show you the entire 4 page resume, he says that he is fluent in Spanish and English at least 2 or 3 times per page, so is it really necessary to put it here again???  My favorite line of all time though is the part where he says that he uses Excel “in fun ways”.  As an employer, do I really care how much “fun” you have with Excel?  No, I do not.

 

Now, before you start telling me what a mean person I am for ripping apart this resume for all to see, please know that it’s for your own good.  As someone who has done hiring before, I can tell you that had this resume come to me in response to a job posting, I would have thrown it in the trash.  I don’t want that happen to you.  In future posts, I’ll have some lovely examples on how a resume should look, I promise.

 

On a different note, I do apologize for my own terrible formatting on this post.  I’m still trying to figure out this blogging stuff!  🙂

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Here it is, our first attempt at blogging!  Since this is our first post, you are probably wondering, “Who are these people?” and “What the heck are they writing about?”  So we figured we should give you a little bio and a synopsis of sorts, so here you go!

 

We are Brian and Shawna, parents of 2 beautiful children who, for the sake of the blog, we’ll call Q and LL or The Girl and The Boy, respectively.  Q is our oldest at 6 years old, and LL is 3 (and a half J ).  We just moved to beautiful Southern California from Michigan back in April of this year, and honestly, it was the best decision of our life!

 

I am Shawna, and I am still hanging on to 30 years of age (until 7/29), and I work full time in a large non-profit agency.  This position is what brought us out to Cali, finally. My area of expertise is employment.  I have worked in Vocational Rehabilitation for about 8 years now, and have extensive knowledge in how to find that perfect job.  I also write killer resumes.  J  I’m also, according to my husband, a geek.  Why?  Because I read.  I read books and blogs, and news websites.  He, however plays “MUD” games….which translates to a video game with no pictures…just text….and I’m a geek?  Whatever……

 

And, this grammar guru of the 30 region is Brian.  As far as employment goes, well, I have walked my share of career paths.  After getting a much desired degree in, wait for it… wait for it… German.  That’s right.  What do you do with a degree in German?  Well, stand-up comedy and acting, of course.  I was confident I could jump into the crazy world of Business.  The Detroit, MI area was booming with German based companies numbering nearly 250 when I finished the degree.  But, alas, the labor freeze had already iced over.  I needed work and found the title insurance industry.  Shortly thereafter, by a stroke of luck and with the help of some old friends, I became a German teacher.  For 2.5 years I taught the German language, history, culture and, of course, grammar.  I found it frustrating to have to teach English grammar before attempting the slightly different German version.  After this career, it was a short stint in title insurance again, then window tinting, and then… wait, window tinting?  Ok…?  Then I found what tends to fit my personality and skill set.  I worked in promotions at auto shows for Audi.  (German, Cars and Hugo Boss… YES PLEASE) Now, I still do promotions for a beverage company doing sampling and support and soon sales in retail.  How, you may ask did I come by this many jobs in a seriously down trodden economy… well, partly, my wife writes killer resumes and cover letters.  Now, I stay with the kids as much as possible during the day and work evenings and weekends.  Am I slightly more long-winded than Shawna?  Slightly.

 

As for our little blog, we are going to have a variety of topics that we’ll touch on, but they will be in two primary categories:  Job Hunting and Working Parents.  If we find that these two categories can’t coexist, we might split the blog up, but for now, they will be  together. 

 

On the Job Hunting side, we will provide tips, tricks, and anecdotes to help you find your perfect (or almost perfect) job.  Every so often, we will also have a post that is specific to addressing the challenges of looking for work when you have a disability, because this is a huge challenge, and needs to be addressed.  And, let’s face it, every blogger wants to make some money on their blog, right?  So don’t be mad at me for offering to write and/or revise your resume for a small fee.  J 

 

On the Working Parents side of things, we are going to share with you how we handle different situations, including childcare, schedule conflicts, and all of those other things that come up when both parents work.  And Brian may just speak his mind now and then on a variety of topics he… … struggles with.  Maybe even some that could be useful for younger readers.  For example, how to use proper grammar in a world ruled by the ‘get it, do it, say it NOW’ philosophy.  It’s still important to know how to talk without sounding unintelligent, especially when you are interviewing. 

 

If you have questions related to our topics, or just want to say hi, please feel free to email us at shawna.and.brian@gmail.com.

 

 

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