Due to the over-abundance of readily available information, job seekers have been led to believe that resume preparation is a streamlined and straightforward process. To some it may very well be as basic as washing their own car. They simply grab a sponge, fill the bucket and start washing. Others may find taking on a do-it-yourself resume building project incredibly aggravating and stressful. Yet, they persist anyway – often based on various pieces of advice picked up from the Internet and random experts.
Probably at least once per week I read or hear someone advising job seekers to prepare a functional resume versus using the traditional chronological format. Usually this suggestion is provided when someone says they aren’t making any progress on their job search. Most times the person recommending a different resume design approach is well-meaning, but likely unaware of the scope of the job seeker’s unique situation or the nuances associated with preparing contemporary career marketing materials.
One of the most common reasons a person might choose to use a functional resume is due to real or perceived problem areas in their career path. It could be anything from a history of divergent professions, long gaps between positions, multiple short-term roles, career change to an unrelated field or re-entry to the workforce following a long absence. While each of these issues poses a challenge, a functional resume may or may not be the ideal way to address it.
Functional resumes usually omit dates, even titles, and group together sets of skills that the job seeker has collected over the course of their career. A main drawback of a functional resume is that it automatically advertises that the person is consciously electing to point out a certain level of dysfunction. The primary difference between a chronologic resume and a functional format is the logical placement of dates and titles associated with each position held. On the chronologic resume, employment history is listed in reverse chronological order showing movement or progression from one role to the next, along with corresponding achievements.
Typically, recruiters, hiring managers, human resource staff and others involved with the screening and selection process expect clear and concise portrayals of information relevant to their immediate needs. The problem with functional resumes is that they attempt to mask the employment experience facts required to assess whether that candidate is a fit. Instead they place extensive focus on assorted skills that come off as scattered and unrelated, making the job seeker appear unfocused and thus unqualified.
Opinions vary greatly on all aspects of job searching. Resumes belong to one area that has no shortage of diverse viewpoints. Industry reports and studies have shown that the vast majority of hiring authorities despise functional resumes. Need more proof? Here is a recent summary of this sentiment from Fistful of Talent: http://www.fistfuloftalent.com/2010/01/in-memoriam-obituary-of-the-dys-functional-resume.html
As a person who has written plenty of resumes and reviewed even more over the years, I do not write nor recommend functional versions. There are many creative and effective methods to deal with less than ideal situations in one’s job history. Rather than agonizing over what works and what doesn’t in today’s ultra competitive employment market, job seekers might be better served by getting professional help with their resume and other career related correspondence. After all, you only get one chance to make a positive first impression.
TalentTalks partners with job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling professional branding materials to create a lasting positive impression.
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