Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Resumes: functional or reverse chronological? The advice is generally to go back to reverse chronology

Mary Lorenz has a resume advice page today on CNN “Five easy ways to improve your resume,” and CNN introduces it with “is your resume awesome?” The link is here.

There is some disagreement among career consultants among the functional resume. Outplacement companies like Right Management, back in 2002, suggested a resume that lists “accomplishments” and decreases the importance of chronology, especially for job seekers over 50.

Recruiters, however, tell me otherwise. They really like to see a resume in reverse chronological order. True, as in the article, they like to see quantifiable results, active verbs, and brevity (eliminate redundant words and use sentence fragments within reason).

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, resumes need to be scanable for keywords. Second, employers are concerned about accounting for gaps in employment and eliminating the possibility of fraud. This is especially true for “headhunting” companies that place consultants with clients.

Recruiters disagree as to whether resumes should list activities basically unrelated to the job sought. That’s especially the case in a changing economy where people have down time, take “interim jobs” (that don’t always work out well), or earn incidental income (that doesn’t mean “off the books”) from volunteer-associated activities or even blogging. They don’t want to distract their clients (there is the “too much detail” problem in business and sales), but they want to eliminate possible red flags. This is a tough call, as the Internet complicates the way people are perceived when others find them online, as on social networking sites and blogs (which happens much more than many job seekers realize).

Update: Nov. 11, 2007

Mary Ellen Slayter, career writer for The Washington Post, has a column today (page k01) "Accomplishments, Not Duties, Jump Off the Page", here.

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