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Functional Resumes and Sending Resumes to HR Departments

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Functional Résumés

Sending Résumés to HR Departments


Functional Résumés

Dear Genie,

I use the functional résumé format and my work experience is organized in four functional areas. Should I use all past tense in the functional areas, or can I list the current job duties in the present tense to inform those who read my résumé that I am currently employed? My functional areas include activities and duties from a variety of experiences including jobs, an internship and school.

Here is an example from my résumé:

Functional Area One

  • Serve as Safety Coordinator. Conduct safety audits. Identify and resolve potentially hazardous working conditions in airport environment. (present tense)
  • Streamline purchasing and procurements policies and procedures for Maintenance Departments at both an air carrier and general aviation airport. Identified shortcomings in system and implemented improvements. (past tense)

Functionally Correct

Dear Correct,

I’m glad to see you’re so detail oriented—this kind of diligence makes a real difference in the way you’re perceived by employers (and colleagues, for that matter).

The purpose of the functional résumé is to highlight your skills. Where and when you obtained those skill is less important. Therefore, all of the items you include in your functional areas should be past tense (the idea being that you’ve already acquired those skills, you are not in the process of acquiring them). However, the functional area headline should be in the present tense since you still have that general functional ability. For example, the headline for the skills you’ve listed might be “Analyze and Implement Quality Control.”

Think of your résumé as an essay about yourself written in shorthand. If you were to write your résumé in longhand it might say: “I am able to analyze and implement quality control (present tense). I learned how when I served as a safety coordinator and streamlined purchasing and procurement policies (past tense).”

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Sending Résumés to HR Departments

Dear Genie,

Is it a good idea to send a résumé to Human Resources departments? Do they even look at résumés of people with no experience?

Flooding the Market

Dear Flooding,

It is always best to send your résumé to a specific person in the department of your choosing. Your next best bet is to send your résumé to a specific person in the Human Resources department. If you don’t have a contact name, call the company and ask who is responsible for your area of interest.

What if you’re responding to a blind add with no company name and only a PO Box number? It’s still worthwhile to send your résumé – you never know what can happen. However, here’s what’s not a good idea: sending out your résumé blindly to every organization you can think of that may be interested in someone with your background. Your chances of actually landing and liking a job improve exponentially when you carefully consider your needs and skills and contact only those organizations that make a good fit.

As for your second question, of course Human Resources departments consider people with little or no experience – how do you think they fill all those entry-level positions?

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Functional Resumes and Sending Resumes to HR Departments by
Authored by: Harrison Barnes