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ARTICULATING YOUR TRANSFERABLE SKILLS: A GUIDE TO BUILDING A FUNCTIONAL RESUME

At lunch with a colleague last week I overheard what must have been a job seeker ask to a friend, "They said I needed a functional resume to better highlight my skills. I don’t even know what that means!"

We all know about and most-likely have a resume.  However many may be unfamiliar with the value of having a functional resume or combination resume, which is built on skills and keywords and used in the following ways:

Purpose 1:  A functional resume can be used for a job seeker with a great deal of experience in the same type of work or career field who has held a number of positions either at the same company or at a variety of companies.  The functional resume for this candidate consolidates like experiences and skills into skill clusters based on common responsibilities and skills.

Purpose 2:  A functional resume can also be used for a job seeker looking to make a career change.  This person’s skills and abilities may be similar to those required of the desired position in terms of transferability.  However, the job seeker needs to clearly make the connection between past job skills and experiences and desired job skills and experiences for a potential employer.  The functional resume for this candidate consolidates like experiences and skills into Skill Clusters based on those responsibilities and skills required for the desired position.

Five Ways to Begin Developing Your Functional Resume

  • Locate a job description for your ideal position; preferably one with great detail.  Print it out.
  • Highlight all of the skills, characteristics, experiences preferred or required THAT YOU POSSESS.  These items may have been gained through any experience, not just a paid position. 
  • Group these skills into themes or clusters; try to have no more than four clusters.  For example, instead of two clusters for leadership and supervision combine them into one: leadership and supervision.  Use these clusters are headings on your resume.
  • For each skill cluster heading, include several bullet-pointed action-word phrases that thoroughly yet concisely demonstrate a skill.  Use quantifiable results when appropriate.
  • Have at least three other people review and critique your resume.  You can request this service using MU Career Manager through the Career Services Center.


See a sample functional resume

By Laura Kestner-Ricketts, director, Career Services Center, Marquette University

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