03 Aug Three types of resumes serve three different purposes
CHICAGO – A resume alone will not get you a job. It’s not a brochure that can speak for you. It may not even open any doors. Most employers use resumes to eliminate candidates for a job. You may be eliminated from the recruitment process without ever having an interview if there is something in your resume that the employer doesn’t like or feels is missing.
However, a well-written resume can provide enough information to interest the employer in interviewing you. While it’s no substitute for an interview, your resume should be prepared in such a manner that it will stand on its own and provide enough information about you to enable an employer to make an intelligent decision.
All candidates being considered look alike. Your resume needs to present your accomplishments and capabilities in a manner that makes you stand out over the competition and catches the employer’s attention. Counselors at Challenger, Gray & Christmas recommend three types of resumes for their clients:
• Short chronological resume
• Long chronological resume
• Functional resume
Each one has a different appearance and a different purpose.
The Short Chronological Resume
A short chronological resume summarizes the last 10 years of your career in reverse. It briefly lists your accomplishments from the most recent to the much older. It’s possible to summarize as much as 25 years of career experience within two regular-sized sheets of paper. This type of resume should be used whenever you are forced to go through a screening process instead of going to a decision maker.
Brevity is important because many firms still sort through resumes manually. Your short chronological resume should contain enough information to get you into the ‟will interview” pile without overwhelming the individual who’s sifting through a high stack of resumes.
Increasing numbers of search firms, executive recruiters and personnel managers initially use computer software to scan resumes for history, education, location and so forth. Once scanned, resumes can be sorted by these keywords to produce a customized list of professionals in a certain field. By including the right keywords in your short chronological resume, you can increase the chances that it will pass the screening process.
While accomplishments are paramount, you should also stress responsibilities, position titles and your education. Though it doesn’t contain as much detail as a long chronological resume, the shorter chronological resume should summarize your ability to make bottom-line contributions to an employer.
This resume should open with an extensive one-paragraph summary of accomplishments that accurately reflect a solid track record in the specific field of application. For each previous position held, then provide a summary of responsibilities and accomplishments. Phrases like ‟recruited 2,000 resellers” quantify accomplishments and their value to former employers.
The Long Chronological Resume
Use the long chronological resume when you meet with the hiring decision maker. Its goal is to distinguish you from other contenders whose backgrounds resemble yours. Focus on accomplishments rather than responsibilities. This is your chance to provide a comprehensive summary of your career accomplishments.
For example, your path to divisional sales manager may not be unique. Chances are most divisional sales managers started out as sales representatives and put in a few years as sales managers before ascending to a divisional manager. Moreover, most divisional managers will content themselves with a basic chronological resume.
To set yourself apart from the competition, provide details about what you did to earn each promotion. Did you win every sales contest during your first five years in the business? If so, say so. Did sales in your division double under your leadership? If so, put it on paper. Include all your major milestones for the previous five to 10 years.
Companies want to hire people who are good at what they do. You can alert them to your strengths by starting your resume with a paragraph or two positioning you in the marketplace by summarizing your experience.
Each work entry on this resume should start with a summary (a paragraph or two) of responsibilities followed by specific accomplishments and results. Using bullet points to set off the accomplishments is a good idea. Jobs held more than nine years ago get a thorough but shorter description.
The Functional Resume
A functional resume stresses abilities such as purchasing, marketing, selling, managing or analyzing. Resumes organized by function rather than chronology give you an opportunity to gloss over a gap in job history or frequent job hopping. If you have many skills, this kind of resume can market you as a “utility infielder” who can perform well in several functions.
Chronology can’t be completely omitted from a functional resume. Be sure to summarize your career chronology at the bottom of the resume. Like a chronological resume, a functional resume should begin with a summary that positions you in the marketplace. Accomplishments are grouped by area of responsibility.
Bold type will draw attention to specific areas of experience. This will enable potential employers to see at a glance just how diverse your talents are. Education and personal data are summarized briefly at the bottom of this and the other two types of resumes are commented upon here.
Finally, it’s not necessary to draw attention to your resume by using florescent paper or flashy graphics. Most human resource departments don’t have the time for a distraction of this nature and might discard your resume. They could write it off as flash over substance.
Like a good marketer, you need to see your product – you – from your customer’s point of view. Your resume needs to focus on results rather than characteristics. Regardless of format, a results-oriented resume helps employers reduce the risks that are associated with hiring because they see what you have accomplished as well as your attitude toward work.
Recent columns by James Challenger
- James Challenger: Make you employment record work for you
- James Challenger: Strategy for contact development an important job-search ingredient
- James Challenger: Five minutes to job interview success
- James Challenger: How to fight potential age discrimination with candor
- James Challenger: Teens face uphill battle in summer job search
This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. WTN accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.