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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

don't use a functional resume

A reader writes:

In your "7 Things To Leave Off a Resume" article, you mentioned picking between chronological and functional resumes. Can you comment on why hiring managers prefer one over the other?

When I apply to jobs that are outside my field, I generally submit a combination functional-chronological resume so the company can see how my skills can be transferred to the new field/position but still see my employment history. Do you think this is effective, or am I hurting my chances?

It sounds like you're using a chronological resume (one that lists your job history by position, with dates, so that it's clear what you were doing when), with the addition of a "functional" summary. I think that's fine -- it's when someone excludes the chronology altogether that I (and many other hiring managers) see a red flag.

For people who don't know, a functional resume just lists skills and abilities, without including a chronological job history. Many hiring managers, me included, hate them.

Generally, the first thing I think when I see them is, "What is this candidate trying to hide?" That's because people tend to use functional resumes when they're trying to hide an employment gap, or job-hopping, or outdated skills (because it matters if your Web design experience is from 10 years ago or one year ago), or other things I'd rather know about. And if I do remain interested in the candidate, the first thing I'm going to do when I talk to them is ask them to walk me through their job history, with dates -- and it's going to annoy me that I have to, and if I have other good candidates I may not even bother.

So never use just a functional resume. But what you're talking about -- chronological plus -- should be just fine.


Seattle Interview Coach said...

I agree! In addition to the employment gaps, it's difficult for me to understand the candidate's career progression.

Anonymous said...

But then why not just use your cover letter to explain how your skills relate to the position at hand? Isn't that what a cover letter is for?

Sorry, but I hate functional resumes of any kind and feel that 95% of job seekers truly do no understand the purpose behind a cover letter or the importance of having a great one.

Anonymous said...

I know it is a little dated, but I have to put my two cents in on this.

I personally think that the concept managers have about functional/chronological resumes is flawed. Managers must admit they do not read EVERY resume and try to understand the applicant's experience. If you go through hundreds of resumes for the first round of interviews, you would have to do a large amount of reading to see if the skills match the job. Chronological resumes by their nature do not do this well at all. For example, I was a front line technical support person for a major OEM. Yes, the guy that tells you to reboot your computer. I also managed the team I was on because our manager had no idea what was going on. Basically, I became the manager of the team and the queue. When I put that on my chron. resume, it gets ignored. When I put that on my functional resume, I can show that I was able to effectively manage a team. And you did not have to find it because it was listed as major skill on the resume (easy to find).

People scan for keywords. The functional resume is the perfect keyword tool. Supposed you were hiring for a dump truck driver and you found a functional resume that had major headings for skills: Project Management, Business Analysis, C# Development, etc. You would not have to spend but a few seconds to see the skill mismatch.

Besides, the chronological listing of the candidate’s title should be more than enough for you to figure out what their next step is.

I guess it’s just me. Maybe chronological resume proponents like to work hard and waste time (justify their existence?). When I have it my way, I discard the chronological resumes because I don’t want to hunt for the skill set.