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Resumes - Which do you find better and why?

There have been lots of Q & A on Proformative about great executive resumes, but none asks the simple question, for a high-level role, which resume format is better and why? (In alpha order) Chronological Functional Hybrid


Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Director of Global Accounting
Company: Agrinos, Inc.
(Director of Global Accounting, Agrinos, Inc.) |


Chrono is better if you're showing clear progression. People like a story, and Chrono is just that.
Functional is better if you've got the skills, but it isn't illuminated as well through the chrono format.
Hybrid is best: summarize why you have the chops, then show how you got there.

Those are my two cents.

(CFO) |

Wayne & Keith:

My favorite answer: "It depends".

It depends on who is reviewing the resume and what they are looking for. I've probably applied for 2,000 jobs in my lifetime. I've probably been personally involved in 500 interviews as a hiring manager and been interviewed myself 250 to 500 times as well. I've been around at least 250 hires where, I wasn't the hiring manager but a coworker of the person that was.

The one thing I've taken away from all of this was that, it is up to the individual who is reading the resumes and, they are all over the map. I've seen managers go through resumes and read them or toss them based on all kind of criteria that I thought was completely irrelevant and in many cases, unfair.

That's why I often chuckle when recruiting and HR types prescribe one format over another. Don't they have the broader experience to know that people are all different and each recipient of resumes will determine what and whom they like based on their own biases which cannot be foreseen by an outside applicant?

The bottom line is, you have no control over who is or isn't reading your resume or what format they like or don't. So, forget about clairvoyance and just give it your best shot based on what you perceive the hiring agency to be looking for. Save your energy for when you actually get an interview.

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

It depends is absolutely the right answer, Anon. The question is still not the right question. The right question is not about a resume for a high-level role, it is about the right resume for the candidate based on what they've done and what they want to do in that next role.

While a favorite of many old-school recruiters, the pure reverse chronology resume is absolutely, positively ... and almost never ... the right fit for someone who has had a few jobs in a couple of most-recent years, recent gaps in employment, or is currently in long-term unemployment.

It is not about the resume for the role, it is about the resume that showcases the candidate's ability to do the job. It's a marketing document. And just like there is not a one-size-fits-all marketing process across industries, there is not a one-size-fits-all resume for level of position.

(Finance Manager) |

For we financial and accounting folks there can be only one - chronological. Functional can suggest one is hiding something and that perception does not help. If you want a hybrid I'd suggest a Prius.

Andy parks
Title: Co-Founder
Company: Campbell Lane Winery
(Co-Founder, Campbell Lane Winery) |

Keith nails it for a high level position. Finance Manager response may be appropriate for mid-level and below positions. But an executive level position needs to communicate to a wide variety of audiences.

(Accountant) |

How important are cover letters? If one has many jobs but many accomplishments, the chronological style may not tell the full story.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

I think it depends on the message you want to get across and the audience. Also, I think there needs to be some way to understand the career timeline, but the entire resume doesn't need to be in the chronological format.

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

The resume itself often doesn't tell the story unless you tailor it to your audience. I have stuck with a chronological resume, but send a "bullet point" list with specific accomplishments where a reader can see if my accomplishments match with what an organization is searching for. I can put the bullet list in a cover letter, but keep it easy to read so someone can quickly see if you have the skills for the position.

Vesna Davis
Title: Analyst
Company: DLC
(Analyst, DLC) |

Having been a recruiter for 16 years, chronological is by far the best in my line of work. We have to go through literally hundreds of resumes a day. We want to see a career progression; how you started (audit associate) to where you are now (Controller), for example. A chronological resume makes it simpler to identify quickly if someone has the ambition and a successful progression in their career, not just someone who's had "jobs." Hybrid is fine, too. However, functional will 95% of the time arouse suspicion such as are there gaps between employers, does the candidate have a stagnate career history, or are they not the right candidate for the job but are trying to design themselves into the position. Additionally, a resume should never read like a job description. We look at enough of them to be able to tell if you just copied and pasted the job description for your role. We don't want to only know what your daily responsibilities are, we want to know what you've achieved while performing them. A resume should say one or all of three things: how you made a company money, how you saved a company money or how you changed a process.

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

I hope no one in my industry writes functional resumes, Vesna, for exactly the reason you cite!

Shailesh Bettadapur
Title: VP & Treasurer
Company: Mohawk Industries
(VP & Treasurer, Mohawk Industries) |

Mine is a hybrid. That is, chronological up front, with functional afterward. This keeps me from being repetitive, given the overlap over several employers. The chronological part hits the highlights, and the functional part goes into a bit more detail.

Jim Holloway
Title: CFO
Company: Contract Lumber, Inc.
(CFO, Contract Lumber, Inc.) |

I am the opposite of Shailesh; I prefer to see the functional abilities summarized or bullet-pointed at the top followed by the reverse chronological experience. This give me a good reading on the skills the person indicates they have and then shows the positions held that provided those skills. This gives me with a read on how interested I am in bringing the person in for an interview; and ultimately that's the purpose. This method has also worked for me when I was job searching.

adnnan mansur
Title: gm
Company: ampak energies pvt limited
(gm, ampak energies pvt limited) |

I believe "It depends" gives the most suitable view of the situation. The resume` contents need to be a piece of cake satisfying the requirements of the position being applied for. The resume` assessors and the applicants both differ in personality and likes and dislikes. The operational level achievements are more specific. The higher we go in the management pyramid the position requirements become more tactical and strategic. Respective capabilities need more high lighting in resume`. The resume` should not be views from the bias of a particular format. The only thing should be that it should be precise and to the point.

Title: Executive & Business Coach, Career Trans..
Company: Howard B. Schwedel, MBA / Schwedel Busin..
(Executive & Business Coach, Career Transition, Franchise Selection, Howard B. Schwedel, MBA / Schwedel Business Svc.) |

you should realize that most resumes are converted to a digital format on-line for review and most of these will require chronological information, so if you leave this out your resume will not make the cut. Instead I suggest using a chronological format with as much information about your achievements and the industry as you can provide. Leave out the usual assumed responsibilities unless they are unique to the position you are applying for or set you apart from most other candidates. Employers and recruiters are seeking specific performance and skills. Do list any software that is industry specific and that you mastered that software in terms of use, reporting results, etc.

ArLyne Diamond
Title: Owner - President
Company: Diamond Associates
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner - President, Diamond Associates) |

I disagree - sometimes the functional resume makes the point better than a chronological one. Isn't it more important to receive valuable and well written information than to worry about style.

My clients (those that are job-seeking) complain that their resumes are never read by the appropriate hiring managers - that they fall down a deep tunnel called HR.

Career counselors tell resume writers to modify their resume to fit the job description - yet you say they should never read like one.

This is a horrible catch-twenty-two - for the job seeker.

ArLyne Diamond
Title: Owner - President
Company: Diamond Associates
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner - President, Diamond Associates) |

Unfortunately most career counselors advice their clients to make the resume sound like the job description - pattern your skills after those they ask for I wish you would spread the word that you hate that copy/paste feel.,

I do believe that there is no one best way - it depends on the nature of the job and the type of experience the candidate has had relevant to what he/she is seeking.

If, for example, your last job didn't feature the elements you think important in this job you want to re-arrange so that you are putting those accomplishments first.

I like hybrid resumes for complicated backgrounds and simple chronological ones for new-comers and narrowly focused skills and professions.

Sanjeev Makker
Title: Entreprenuer
Company: The Platinum Clusters Inc.
(Entreprenuer, The Platinum Clusters Inc.) |

In the present day times, companies are not looking for what you have done in the past rather what a new hire can do for the company and skill sets that one brings on the table. I would go for a functional resume and highlight 3-4 major skills and accomplishments associated with them.

Flush out the details in a f2f discussion.

Recruiters think that with a functional resume you are hiding job breaks, or jumping too many jobs, that could be true but reality is if the person has the right skills, mentality, attitude and can do the job, i would go for it. A better strategy can be if you are using a functional resume then use a cover letter on what kind of job you are looking for.

My two cents..

Derek Icenhour
Title: Controller
Company: Aeronautical Systems Inc
(Controller, Aeronautical Systems Inc) |

I disagree. The purpose of the resume is to get the face to face discussion. If the resume isn't just right to begin with, you don't get the opportunity to flesh out those details later. I'm less likely to follow up on a functional resume because, while it lists the "experience" and "skills", the lack of chronology leaves out the amount of experience and the context of the skills. I definitely lean towards a chronological resume for when I'm hiring and for when I'm seeking my own job (of which I'm doing both right now). I do like a brief skills summary at the beginning of the chronological resume, but I definitely want to see the chronology of where those skills came from.


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