The recent post on resume format received a lot of responses, albeit not on the blog itself (http://militarytransitions.biz/blog) but on the various LinkedIn group discussions to which it was posted. For the benefit of all, I've compiled responses from recruiting professionals into one document so everyone can see the various opinions. If I didn't include yours, it is only because I (perhaps incorrectly) determined that you are not a recruiting professional. No harm intended!
As a refresher, here is the question I posed in the original blog post: "Resume considerations: chronological or functional format?" My premise was that chronological format is preferred, but that functional format also has important benefits. Here's what you said:
Military Officers of the United States of America
"Emily – I have to disagree 80%. While I concur with the basic premise of chronology showing job progresssion/responsibility, etc. At best, I'd recommend combination of functional/chronological. Consider…
- so many people are competing for jobs
- candidate needs to be a perfect fit to make the "A" list after initial review
- are recruiters diligent enough (with so many applicants) to dig out of someone's chronological resume the elements making them "perfect" – I'd say No.
Given this, I recommend of course a unique resume for each application so it can be tailored. And, in order to effectively do that, everyone should keep a separate document of accomplishments, perhaps sorted into technical, leadership, management, etc. categories. From this list the best 10 or most appropriately targeted 10 accomplishments are cut and pasted into the tailored resume for a particular employer/position.
I think a format like this catches the best attention of a recruiter or recruitment team reviewing records:
Objective (tweaked to match position)
Accomplishments (tailored to the position requirements)
Key Skills/Abilities (again tailored, but can be general)
Other credentials (education/certifications/etc.)
Chronology (brief, but showing progression of position, responsibilities, etc.)
I think the chronology does matter when you get to a second review, but to make it to that point in today's market you need to show you have exactly what someone is looking for. Of course if a position says something like "previous COO experience required" then incorporate that into the initial accomplishments with an "As COO" preface."
My 2 cents worth.
Posted by Robert Dubek
Tip of the Arrow Foundation
"During my 35 years in contingency recruiting and retained search, I, and my clients, always preferred a chronological resume. In the last 18 months of working with transitioning Soldiers, that has remained consistent.
Hiring leaders like to see what you did for which organization and when. Always a suspicion that a functional resume is hiding the fact that the more relevant and significant accomplishments happened a long time in the past, not recently."
Posted by Robert Deissig
"Chronological is the most clear and direct method of conveying a logical career progression. From the recruiting side of the interview desk, it also quickly reveals if the candidate moved laterally or upward with a focused direction. As Bob cited, functional formats usually convey profession changes that don't correlate with one another. If this is the case for the job seeker, they best serve themselves to set up the chronological format and are able to clearly articulate (on paper and in person) the reasoning behind the changes.
Job seekers are also wise to remember when developing the content for their resume that it serves a specific purpose – to convey how they used their knowledge, skills and abilities to solve specific business issues along with the validated impact of their actions to the business. If a candidate is past their first job in high school it should never read as a job description of tasks. The concept is to provide the opportunity for the resume reader to "picture" the candidate doing similar work at their company achieving similar, positive results. Our TOAF seasoned career coaches and recruiters know and understand this impact. Most of the up front conversations with the job seeker are around drawing out this information and getting them to put it down on paper.
The other key element a recruiter seeks to define is what are the intrinsic qualities about the candidate that uniquely define the way they deliver their skills? It could be that sparkle of a connecting personality that has the ability to create instant rapport (think sales and customer service roles). Perhaps it is a reflective thought process needed for scientific roles. Or, it might be tenacious project management follow through so critically needed for managing multi-faceted, longer term programs.
One of my global clients just completed an exercise this past week in which their leadership team defined the key strengths they would seek out in a candidate for succession, disaster recovery and replacement planning. Across the board, everyone cited specific intrinsic strengths that were a part of an individual's nature – not a learned skill set.
In over 30 years of listening to employer needs and seeing which candidates they selected and why, consistently the decision was based on the candidate's unique intrinsic strengths. Sure, employers want certain knowledge, skills and abilities along with "x" amount of experience. Yet, with all of that being equal or close, it is the way a person delivers them that makes all the difference to the employer. Which brings up the question of culture and overall fit. How important is this? I defer to Emily's far reaching military candidate and employer expertise to share her insights on this key element for job seekers and employers.
One thing we have to keep reminding the military candidate is that this is the perfect time to brag about who they are – what uniquely defines what they can bring to a business to move it forward. There is a tendency to downplay the impact of their accomplishments. When addressing the military job seekers at the recent SHRM annual conference in San Diego, the room was filled with nodding heads on this point. We encourage them to include this up front in the Professional Summary and make certain the language for each job conveys that uniqueness."
Posted by Sherrill Curtis
"Chronological is convenient for disqualifying and "labeling" job seekers. Functional is more effective for showcasing what a job seeker has to offer. Over a number of years, it seems consistently true that recruiters like chronological resumes and hiring managers like functional resumes."
Posted by Joy Montgomery
"As a recruiter we tend to look at what have you done lately and the skills that are the most up to date. An objective stating what you are looking for will direct the reader to the skills that are required for the position being pursued. Functional can be misleading with out of date experience or skills. Once again it just depends on the position that is being applied for and the audience."
Posted by Dan DeCarlo
"Hey Emily. Chronological without question. Perhaps it is the history major in me or having been in the executive search business for quite some time as you know but what I want to see is most recent job to oldest with your key responsibilities and accomplishments for each. I also like numbers and statistics. If you want to highlight different functional expertise below each job that's ok, but a patchwork of functional information pulled together over a 10-30+ year career can be very confusing to follow.
I agree with Dan's posting as well that a well articulated objective at the top of the resume can serve as an effective guidepost for the rest of the resume. It allows the person to encapsulate their highlights right up front instead of relying on a recruiter who is going to spend 30 seconds, maybe, scanning the entire resume looking for a key word or two to find those highlights."
Posted by Jay Andre
["I am having the same issues in trying to get my current resume re-written. I have been with the same company for 10 years, but don't want to lose the fact that I have done a lot over the last 20 years. I would love to have (and pay for) someone in the recruiting side to help me massage and define my resume that has the necessary "key" words that are required nowadays to get by the first level of consideration. In this current job market is the two page resume still a functional limit?"]
Posted by Robert Atwood
"Robert – No there is not a 1 or 2 page limit on resumes for experienced people, that ended many years ago. I consistently see executive type resumes that are 3 pages, some more, but I would say that 3 pages is very standard if you have a substantive career and experience set behind you. If we are talking a junior/mid-level person then I would say keep it to 1-2 pages, but with 20 years of experience 3 pages is fine in my experience. The general rule of thumb is keep the resume as short as you can, but also keep in mind your resume is your primary and sometimes sole marketing vehicle for you as you look for a job don't short change yourself at the expense of an extra half page, page, or even two.
My two cents."
Posted by Jay Andre