Never means never. I’ve been reviewing resumes for several years for MENG and have never (that word again) seen a functional resume that was worth considering [A functional resume organizes information by skill sets and accomplishments rather than the more standard specific positions, titles, and reverse chronology.].
A functional resume immediately communicates to an executive recruiter that you are hiding something.
These are some negatives that I’ve seen executives trying to hide:
- Old (from the recruiter’s point of view)
- Many short-term jobs
- Few promotions
- Marketing services career (aiming to move to clients)
- Long gap since last job
- Long tenure in a contracting industry
- Currently in a lower level or part time job
- Everyone searching for a new job has some blemishes. Unfortunately, no good recruiter is going to miss them before sending us to their client
Functional resumes are confusing.
Where did you accomplish what you are so proud of? Is their business similar to mine? What was your level and responsibility? What else was happening at that time?
Functional resumes simply group related types of accomplishments into a litany that doesn’t provide enough context to be understood or appreciated.
A functional resume can’t tell a great story about you.
Stories have a beginning, middle, and end. There are problems to be overcome and successes to be celebrated. And every great story has surprises and distinctive personalities. All of this is easier to convey in a reverse chronological resume than a functional one.
A function resume doesn’t shout to a recruiter why they should be interested.
- Been at a targeted company in a targeted category?
- Had the targeted job titles?
- Progressed in your career, especially via promotions?
A recent study found that recruiters spend eight seconds screening resumes.
They are focusing on job titles and companies in the initial screen. It’s impossible for a recruiter to spend eight seconds on a functional resume and find a reason to screen you into consideration.
I can almost hear some people reading this blog virtually yelling at your computer screen:
But the reason I’m using a functional resume is that I have some of the problems that you’ve mentioned and therefore no recruiter is interested in learning about how my previous accomplishments prove I can help their client.
There are better ways than functional resumes to overcome your resume problems.
1. Forget recruiters. Network.
Recruiters are hired to find the exact square peg. If your career has serious gaps and issues, you may need to avoid starting with recruiters. Most jobs are found via networking anyway. Once you’re brought to the attention of a recruiter by a mutually respected contact, your resume will be seriously reviewed.
2. Lead with a bio (no resume).
Career coach and MENG member Peter Engler has been preaching the benefits of bios for some time.
A bio lets you tell your story however you want. Take advantage of this and use it when networking. After someone has expressed interest, you’ll usually need to follow up with a reverse chronological resume that will be positively reviewed since you presold yourself with the bio.
3. Lead with a direct response letter (no resume).
This has the same benefits as leading with a bio. Either one requires a very well written document that you many need help writing.
If you’ve been using a functional resume, try the bio or direct response letter approach before going to a regular reverse chronological resume which will still be expected.