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Functional or Chronological résumé? Should you try a hybrid?

Economic change continues to bring significant layoffs, especially from large corporations. Disruptive business models are undercutting large and mid-sized businesses and small businesses require new employees to fill multiple roles.

MagnifyingGlass_Resume

The Traditional Chronological Résumé

In the past, especially in large corporations, responsibilities changed relatively slowly. An employee might easily stay in one role and grow within the company. S/he had time to learn new processes and procedures within one role and then move into another role. By today’s standards, the career progression was a slow and steady progression.

Today, there are roles that progress in this manner, albeit faster than in the past. Demonstrating this career progression on a résumé is best filled with a standard chronological résumé.

These changes call for new thinking

New technologies and modifications to business models bring immediate changes to the roles and responsibilities that are needed in the workplace. There is no time to train current employees. Many companies opt to lay off employees with unneeded skill sets and hire new people who have them. Some companies simply fill the needed skill sets with contract employees, that are found through agencies.

A new paradigm

Small and mid-sized businesses are bringing a new paradigm into the job market, providing greater opportunity for astute jobseekers. These businesses need people who can fill multiple hats within one role.

Software programmers are required to work directly with clients and customers. These individuals are expected to thoroughly question clients to understand and document their needs and prepare an itemized quote for services. Then the programmer creates the software and may be responsible for implementing it into the customer’s IT environment, test the software, troubleshoot any problems and finally teach end-users in the new technology.

Retail managers are expected to manage software that tracks inventory as well as payroll for sales associates. These managers are responsible for merchandising products to entice customers to buy and bring in the highest possible profit.

This expansion of responsibilities brings a need for jobseekers to demonstrate to potential employers a variety of roles that s/he might fill. This scenario is best filled by a functional résumé.

Career Change and arrow pointing upwards. Conceptual image

Advantages to the Chronological Résumé

The chronological résumé allows the reader to easily see a potential candidate’s career trajectory. It should clearly outline a history that shows an increase in responsibilities around a common role.

Example of a chronological résumé

For example, a person in their early career may have started as an IT helpdesk associate. From there, each successive role should show an increase in skills and responsibility. This lineup of roles might work out something like this:
  1. Help Desk Associate
  2. Level 2 (or 3) Help Desk Associate
  3. Help Desk Team Lead
  4. IT Project Assistant
  5. Assistant IT Project Manager
  6. IT Project Manager
From this point, roles might show an increase in the sophistication, size, and budget.

Advantages of the Functional Résumé

For positions where multiple roles are being filled by one employee, there is a need to present transferable skills on a résumé. As I mentioned in my earlier blog: Changing or shifting careers? Be fast and efficient! …everyone has transferrable skills, regardless of their industry. I include early career jobseekers in my assertion. A job as a barista or waiting tables includes the following transferrable skills:
  • Documentation of details
  • Communication with people from all backgrounds
  • Multitasking and flexibility in a fast-paced work environment
  • Managing challenging personalities
  • And on-and-on
Another situation where a functional résumé can be an definite asset is when a jobseeker is changing or redirecting his or her career. At this point, the previous career trajectory is less important than showing how former roles transfer from the former career into the new responsibilities.

The dilemma: Functional or chronological?

The easiest way to present transferrable skills is with the functional résumé. It definitely has the advantage. But hiring professionals still want to see career progression and they want to see how the candidate made it through the Great Recession. In other words, they are looking for gaps in employment or other flags that might indicate a problem.

So the question is: How do we satisfy the need to show chronological career progress and the ability to fill multiple roles?

I believe that there is middle ground that satisfies both sets of readers. I call it a hybrid.

How to create a hybrid résumé

The way to do this is to present each employment in your history in chronological order as usual. However, when you organize the responsibilities and accomplishments, categorize these entries with headers that reflect the top transferrable skills that are needed for the positions you plan to apply for.

Case Study: Chris

Chris is a former operations manager in a nonprofit. The new career trajectory is in the for-profit business sector as a business relationship manager.

To put together a hybrid résumé, Chris looks at five to ten job postings in the new role. Associations also bring insight to this step. The next step is extract the top, key transferrable skills that are needed to qualify Chris for a future position.

For our example, let’s use the following list of transferrable skills.
  1. Business Growth & Strategic Partnerships
  2. Business Transition & Process Management
  3. Staff Management
  4. Communications
When Chris creates the Experience Details for each position, it looks something like:

Current or last job role, Dates of employment
Company Name

Business Growth & Strategic Partnerships
  • Bullet one
  • Bullet two
  • Bullet three
Business Transition & Process Management
  • Bullet one
  • Bullet two
  • Bullet three
Staff Management
  • Bullet one
  • Bullet two
  • Bullet three
Communications
  • Bullet one
  • Bullet two
  • Bullet three
Results:
  • Bullet one
  • Bullet two
  • Bullet three
At this point, Chris rethinks past accomplishments and fits them into the categories needed for the new role.

Top Tips:

  1. Use vocabulary that is current to the new career. This includes the last two positions that are represented on the résumé.
  2. There may be significant information from the former role that is left out of the résumé. This information only serves to distract the reader and dilute the information that demonstrates the candidate’s integration into the new career path. Again, if it doesn’t really apply to the new role, leave it out.
  3. Check out people on LinkedIn who have experience in the new role. Find someone who has a carefully, crafted profile. Use that as a model for your new LinkedIn profile.
  4. Join LinkedIn groups that reflect your new profile. Educate yourself on the current focus of the industry. Participate.
Green Business Strategy Think strategically and stay ahead of the curve.

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