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Resume Help/Resume help- maybe functional?


Hi Dr. Converse,
My name is Scott and I could really use your help with preparing my resume. I'm 50 years old and have worked for myself most of that time, so no resume was needed. My jobs have been diverse: Manufacture's Sales Rep. I once owned a business that purchased raw goods and sold them as finished goods. I was a videographer. My last job was writing test cases for cell phone software.

I find myself being tempted to present my resume as a jack-of-all trades instead of something specific.

After some thought, I decided that I would like to focus on selling manufactured products- business to business. For example, I could work a manufacturer that makes nails and screws and sell them hardware store chains. Hopefully, I'll find something more exciting than nails and screws though.

A pesky thing that keeps getting in my way is that I haven't done that kind of sales for 15 years. I don't expect a hiring person to look that far down my resume to find my selling experience. I think they would chuck my resume after the reading the last place I worked was as a technical writer.

One HR guy I met during a job networking seminar told me that as an HR guy, he thinks a functional resume is "hiding" something.

I bet you're busy and all, but I would sure appreciate it if you could look at my resume and give me some advice.


Hi Scott,

There is a lot here to work on, so I'll take each item you've presented and give you my best take on it.  Let me start with your last comment first.  I would be happy to look at your resume and give you an evaluation.  However, the AllExperts site isn't the best way to do that, so send it to me as an attachment to an email to the address at the end of this message.

I'm sure the HR guy you refer to has his own take on functional resumes, but remember it's only his opinion.  I can tell you, after interviewing hundreds of HR people and company heads, that his opinion is in the decided minority.  A functional resume is a good choice for young people just out of college who have no professional experience, but it is also a good choice for people such as you who are trying to present a series of skills rather than a series of related jobs.  I won't be able to tell you for sure which way to go until I see your actual resume.

If you have decided you want to go for a sales position, you should have a variety of jobs to look at since most job-seekers are looking at other kinds of opportunities.  Again, after I see  your resume I will be in a much better position to advise you as to a course of action that I think will be of maximum benefit to you.

The one thing I would not advise at this point (and it sounds as though you have decided against it anyway) is to present yourself as a "jack of all trades" because the phrase that follows - master of none - is not what the current economy is supporting.  If you were a home handyman, for example, that would be a different story.  But then you wouldn't need a resume, right?  So, send me what you have in the way of a resume and I'll take a look at it and will be able to give you much more specific advice than I can at this point.  We have a number of different options to choose from, so I'm sure I can find one that will help you look stellar on the page.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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