It’s interesting, every time I go to Deborah Drake’s group for reluctant bloggers, I seem to come back with something worth blogging about. This time, I met another career coach, one who is an author as well. His name is Don Burrows and the book I’m referring to is “Resumes that Resume Careers”. Don’s background is HR, where he spent 30 years of his career and where he was able to function at levels varying from recruiter to Director. The book is packed with wisdom, and while I would love to recap most it, I would really need to copy the whole thing to do it justice. So I’ll suggest you find a copy.
It does have a central theme and that is to write “functional” resumes. It’s an unusual choice as this is the first place I’ve seen the recommendation in a while. As a manager, and as an applicant, it’s what I wanted and what I usually used. However, as a Coach, my normal recommendation has become a “hybrid” format: One that looks like a reverse historical resume, but focuses on accomplishments/functions/functionality and if someone is looking for work in their current profession, I’ll continue to recommend it. The primary reason is that it has the added value of avoiding HR’s filters.
If you are making any kind of break from what you last did, then Don’s suggestion is something you should consider very carefully. His premise is that companies and recruiters care about what you can do for them. He’s right. The person most likely to be pleased with the format is a “hiring manager”. If you have problems that need to be solved, then the easier it is to visualize someone doing so, the easier it is to hire them.
One of the interesting things about the increased use of electronic DBs to store and retrieve candidates is that they aren’t going to care about format. We care, and HR cares. As Don says, “The goal of a resume is to get a recruiter to call YOU for an interview.” In other words, we want to be found when a recruiter is running a search and we want to give this recruiter enough pertinent information so they see us as close enough to a solution to talk to. A functional resume is very specifically designed to do that.
A little later in his book Don writes, “Please don’t ever forget: the company is not in business to satisfy your wants and needs. YOU are the product and before they will “buy” YOU, they want to know what YOU have accomplished elsewhere and what you’ll do for THEM.” Your resume isn’t really about you at all. It’s about some job and how you will be able to perform it.
Beyond this, Don and I have lots of disagreements about a bunch of little things, like whether to include an objective and how to develop it etc. but those really boil down to style. If you read Don's book and follow his suggestions, you will come up with an excellent resume, one that looks a lot like the ones NFJS recommends.