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First things first: I think resumes can be very overrated. It’s hard to sum up what a person is worth professionally on a piece of paper – which is why I always put more value in networking, building relationships and reputation so that people will be dying to hire you before they’ve even SEEN a resume.

But that being said, resumes are a reality. You’ve gotta have one. And you want to make sure you make the most of it – which is why I’m kicking off a two-post series of Resume Writing Tips.

There are two basic types of resumes – 1) A functional resume that is most often used for informational interviewing, and 2) A chronological resume that is most often used when applying for a job where your job history matches the target and shows a sensible progression of career steps.  The functional resume is created around a “theme” and is often used when trying to bridge to a new or similar industry.  A functional resume is a great tool but you need to have a good understanding of its purpose for you and your marketing strategy.

Here are resume writing tips my Career Coaching clients have found useful:

Resume Writing Tip #1 – Functional resumes are often great when you are networking with others and exploring other career options where your work experience indirectly showcases those transferable skills you have already mastered. Use it to give an overall view of your background and to position how you work, not where you’ve worked.  The functional resume focuses on what you can bring of value to the industry.

Resume Writing Tip #2 – When using an objective, it is important that it clearly states your purpose and target.   The objective should be about the value you bring, not your expectations about how the company can give you an opportunity to grow your own career!  An example of bringing value might be “I’m looking for a career as a Crime Scene Investigator where I can use my ability to catch details, create processes and learn new technology to advance an organization’s reputation and success.”

Resume Writing Tip #3 – With a functional resume, have a good understanding of how you work, and outline it. Identify and describe your unique patterns of behavior – those that give you success (key success patterns) and showcase the value you bring.  Do you see a recurring theme here?!  What makes you different from the other 300 resumes received for this position?  What sets you apart?

Resume Writing Tip #4 – Avoid including so much information that the reader has a hard time following who you are.  Don’t worry about trying to include something for everyone (“the kitchen sink syndrome”).  This will only make you look like a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.

So, the functional resume is most often used in networking meetings and is used in three instances – to explore markets, to clarify and validate that the target market is a fit, and to position yourself in that market.  The functional resume should be a document that can express your objective, achievements, and patterns of successful behavior.

After the networking meetings, with a specific job and industry identified, you may want to use the chronological resume if it makes sense with your job history. When going through the front door to “HR,” you will find most recruiters prefer the chronological resume.