BOB LANKARD: Build a functional resume
January 26, 2014 1:49 AM

They don’t do that any more. Your job is gone. The industry where you spent 20 years is in decline.

Are you left with a blank slate? No, this is a time to discover the skills you used in your previous jobs that can be used in other industries.

These skills are called transferable skills.

When the coal mines in western Pennsylvania closed, those workers were told their jobs were gone. The machines they worked on did not exist in other industries. As an employment counselor I helped these dislocated workers discover skills used in the mines that could transfer to other industries.

As a dislocated worker whose job no longer exists you need to discover your core skills. Write down areas where you excelled in previous jobs, school, and personal activities such as community organizations and hobbies. What did you enjoy doing? What did you do well? Also note what you did not enjoy or what areas in which you did not excel.

Look at a variety of job openings. Perhaps in several newspapers. Or online job-listing sites such as Monster, CareerBuilder or Simply Hired. What jobs interest you?

Now is the time to compare the list of transferable skills you have developed to the skills sought in a job you would like. In some cases it will not be an exact match.

A traditional resume that organizes information by time and job title with the most recent job listed first — called a chronological resume — will not be very helpful for the dislocated worker. You will need a resume that is more of a sales tool than a job biography. This sales tool resume is called a functional resume because it emphasizes skills and experience.

The traditional resume of a dislocated worker is full of accurate information about a job that no longer exists. It is for this reason I suggest most dislocated workers use a functional resume.

The functional resume is the best choice for individuals switching industries. I advised a number of dislocated coal miners to use a functional resume, which has a heading, an objective statement, a skills summary, education and a life skills section. In the work experience section the writer should emphasize a comprehensive breakdown of positions, functions, skills and accomplishments. I recommend the functional resume for a career changer because it permits the job seeker to emphasize the parts of their experience that relate to the desired job.

It can be helpful to the job seeker who has gaps in employment or has frequently switched jobs. People entering the workforce can benefit from a functional resume because it is easier to list transferable skills. People with a wide-ranging work history, those with mostly unpaid experience, those with generalized education, job seekers wanting to emphasize skills not used in recent years, and those with varied unrelated jobs are all functional resume candidates.

Suppose most of your job titles have been very general such as “administrative clerk.” Such a job seeker can list his or her skills by skill area rather than repeating the same function for each job title.

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