Functional resumes focus on a person's skills and experience, rather than on his chronological work history. (Here is an example of a functional resume.) You would use a functional resume for a couple of reasons:
- Your background is varied and doesn't add up to a focused career path
- You want to move into a field that is totally different from the one where most of your experience lies
- You have large gaps in your work history--months or years where you were not employed
- You've held a lot of jobs in a few years and you don't want to give the appearance that you're a job hopper
- You're fresh out of college and want to spotlight your knowledge and not your work experience
Keep in mind, however, that there are a few drawbacks to a functional resume:
- Some job boards, like monster.com, don't accept them
- Headhunters tend not to accept them
- Suspicious hiring managers sometimes think job candidates who use functional resumes are trying to hide something
- It's important to put some skills in context with a specific job. If you have database management experience, for example, it carries more weight if you can associate it with a specific job you held for a few years, rather than just listing it as a skill. To a hirer manager, just listing it as a skill could mean you merely read a book about it.
If you can avoid using a functional resume, you should.