Why I Don’t Like Functional Resumes

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Straight Answers to Real Questions

Question: I’m currently VP Finance of a mid-sized auto parts manufacturer with over twenty five years’ experience behind me. I wasn’t really on the job market but I was recently approached by a headhunter on a really interesting CFO position with a PE owned company in the auto parts industry with some real upside potential.

I haven’t had to write a resume in a lot of years and am of two minds on which resume format to go for. In past I had traditional resume with a chronological listing of all my employers along with related accomplishments. This time out, I’m thinking of going with a functional resume where I list my skill sets and accomplishments up front and then summarize my work history at the bottom of my resume.

Do you have any preferences in resume formats?

Answer: I understand the appeal of the functional resume. In this format, you can parse your many and varied different skill sets and accomplishments in one fell swoop and avoid having to repeat yourself on your duties in each different position.

That being said, I don’t like functional resumes for a number of reasons. First and foremost among those reasons is that functional resumes don’t accomplish the first objective of any resume which is to tell a story. Your list of skill sets and accomplishments don’t really have much meaning if they’re not in context of the company and position in which you developed these skills. In the functional format, the reader has a very hard time getting a clear picture of how your career has developed.

A well written, chronological resume tells a story. The reader gets a good sense of who the candidate is today and just as importantly, the reader also knows how they got there. With a chronological resume, the reader doesn’t have to work too hard to get a good picture of what the candidate is all about. Just keep in mind that if the hiring authority (or headhunter) is reading your resume, they’re reading a bunch of other resumes as well. If the other person’s resume is easier to understand or puts their relevant accomplishments in a better context, everything else being equal, that person gets the interview and your resume goes back into the pile.

If you think you may be in the market for top financial talent in the next few months, call me direct or email me, for a no obligation consultation.

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