I was a search firm recruiter for 13 years and I can tell you that a reverse chronological resume is really the only way to go. Functional resumes suck.
I ran a consulting desk for the majority of the time I recruited and I still believe that a chronological resume is best for job seekers pursuing either direct hire positions and consulting work. Functional resumes just don't work.
While there are many reasons why a chronological resume is best. there are three main reasons why I (and most recruiters who won’t call you for an interview) dislike functional resumes and why you should consider not using one:
Anyone with a ‘normal’ background will use a chronological resume (and I do use the word ‘normal’ in a loose manner meaning no offense to anyone). Right? Anyone with a cookie-cutter, progressive background will not use a functional resume.
So as a recruiter, when I saw a functional resume, I subconsciously assumed the person had something about their background that was not ‘normal’ or it was probably not an ideal background. I mean, who would use a functional resume unless they felt they had to do so, yes?
I would read the resume (if I even read it) from the perspective for finding what was wrong with the background that would lead someone to choose to use a functional format instead of reading the resume looking for why that person is awesome. Do not give your reader a reason to start reading from a negative perspective, which can happen with a functional resume.
Hiring managers need your achievements and job duties placed within a company and time-frame context for your background to be taken seriously. When you strip your achievements out of the company context and year you did it, the reader has no point of reference to evaluate your expertise.
If you did a successful marketing campaign that had 74% open email rates. well, that is great! But it means nothing if I do not know how long ago you did it, for what company and what the volume stats surrounding the experience are. The context is just as important as the content…only a chronological format can truly showcase these important pieces of information to demonstrate how you are qualified and how you are the perfect candidate.
Functional format resume are not easily digestible to applicant tracking systems (ATS), if at all to some systems. The rationale behind this is simple. ATS systems are set up to digest chronological formats correctly: These systems identify the predictable order of contact information, company names, job titles, bullet descriptions and key words found in a chronological resume. In a functional resume, these information nuggets are presented in a different order and it throws off the ATS by resume data in the incorrect fields, if it downloads it at all.
I never really say never…
But I have yet to find a true positive reason to use a functional resume and do not ever recommend them. A functional resume is often a red flag for recruiters that can put your resume in the ‘no call-no interview’ pile.
Don’t do it!
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