Beware the functional format

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: December 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

When you have only one chance to convince a hiring manager to review your resume, and the time given is a mere seven seconds before s/he moves on, then you don’t want to use the wrong format.

Reverse Chronological, Functional, or Combo?

Most job seekers will use the popular reverse-chronological format. That is, you list your most recent job first, followed by the next most recent and on and on.

Others might opt for the combo format. It’s a mixture of reverse-chronological and functional. In it, you’ll list your skills in a functional style beneath the opening summary followed by professional experience in a reverse-chronological format. The functional skills are what you do in your job. For example: an accountant might list reconciliations, tax returns, AP/AR, etc.

Both the reverse chronological and combo type resumes give the hiring manager quick, easy access to what you can do.

However, the functional format hides important information from the hiring authority, mainly where you gained your experience. In a functional format, you’d list your skills, knowledge, abilities after an opening summary and then you’d simply list the name of your employers along with dates in the professional experience section. There would be no details as to where you did what.

Hiring Managers Do Not Like Functional Formats

When a hiring manager sees a functional resume, the first thought is that the candidate is trying to hide something. That might be job hopping, dated work experience, etc. What’s more, it’s impossible for them to know if you dealt with tax authorities (as stated in the functional section) at ABC Firm last year or XYZ Firm twenty years ago, as listed on your resume.

You see the problem. They don’t know you and you’re making it impossible for them to get a clear picture of your relevant and recent talents.

If you have been a job hopper or if your work experience is dated, it’s still better for you to use a combo type resume than a functional one.

One of the few times a functional resume can work is if you’re a contractor (self-employed) and the names of the individuals you work for (professional experience) isn’t as important as what you’ve done for them, especially if you’ve accomplished the same type work for each client.

Remember, you have seven seconds or less to compel a hiring manager to read your resume. Don’t put stumbling blocks in your path to an interview by choosing to use the functional format.