Executive Resumes & Career Transition Strategies Blog

Reflections of an Executive Resume Writer
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What is the Best Executive Resume Style?

This is one of the most contentious topics regarding resume writing (second only to the “How many pages?” question). I have received an unusual number of inquiries lately regarding the pros and cons of chronological versus functional executive resumes, so I have updated and reprinted one of my previously published articles here.

How Recruiters and Hiring Executives View Functional and Chronological Executive Resumes

  • Human Resource professionals and recruiters generally do not like functional resumes, are suspicious of them, and do not have the time or patience to ferret out your qualifications.
  • Chronological resumes are the most commonly used and generally accepted style.
  • Functional resumes tend to raise a red flag: This individual may be trying to hide career gaps, age, or job hopping.

Features, Uses, and Advantages of Chronological and Functional Executive Resumes

  • A chronological resume highlights progressive advancement in responsibility, provides a clear picture of employment history, and enables you to tie your responsibilities and accomplishments together in a logical fashion that makes hiring authorities most comfortable.
  • A functional resume allows you to highlight major accomplishments up front regardless of where in your work history they occurred, categorizes accomplishments from different positions, and eliminates repetitiveness in a work history consisting of very similar positions. It also permits de-emphasizing current or recent positions not related to your career objective, frequent job changes or gaps, or apparent demotions in responsibility.(These last characteristics of the functional resume are, of course, the very reason that employers and recruiters generally do not like them!)

Conclusions

It is my view that it is not to your advantage to use a functional resume unless there is a compelling reason to do so. Between the two choices, a chronological resume would be the preferred style, but I generally recommend a third option which gives you the best of both worlds: a hybrid or combination resume.

The hybrid or combination executive resume starts out with a profile or summary section that gives the reader a succinct overview of the skills and experience you bring to the table, and highlights a few examples of noteworthy accomplishments that are demonstrative of the results you can potentially deliver to the prospective employer’s organization.

It’s all about making a “business case” up front for your value as a potential hire. However, beware of getting carried away with this opening section and losing your reader. You want it to be readily scanned in a very short period of time, and it should not comprise more than 1/3 to 1/2 of the first page of your resume.

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