Another Nail in the Coffin for Functional Resumes


We’ve been cautioning for some time that resumes organized around functional skills areas (rather than a chronology of experience) are a bad idea for all but the most extreme problematic job histories for which a chronological approach just won’t work. Although he calls them “skill-based resumes,” Microsoft recruiter Jason Pankow, like most hiring decision-makers, hates functional resumes, in which:
… everything is listed that the applicant has done in his or her entire life in the hopes that one of their key words will grab your attention or at least the attention of your search engine. Near the bottom of the page, you will find the employment history, complete with company, title, date… and nothing else.
“However, when I simply see a ton of ‘skills,'” Pankow goes on, “I don’t know where this knowledge was obtained. Through real-world, hands-on exposure? Was it learned in school? An internship? Maybe this person watches a lot of Discovery Channel and saw a documentary?” Now, back in the days when I was more inclined to recommend functional formats for resumes and prepare them for clients, I always tried to put functional bullet points in context — to tell decision-makers like Pankow exactly where the skill was obtained or polished. Still, Pankow’s loathing of resumes organized around functional skills clusters is representative of the way most hiring decision-makers feel, so I advise them only for job-seekers with highly troubled or unusual job histories.