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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'm a career changer, shouldn't I use a functional resume?


It's functional resume questions week! (Yes, these things go in waves.)

"My experience isn't related to what I want to do; shouldn't I use a functional resume?"

And the crowd says, "No, No, NO!"

Using functional resumes is risky. It has been my experience, and that of many of my fellow recruiters who are actively recruiting, that hiring managers and recruiters alike hate them. They wonder what you are hiding and often suspect the worst. This may not be such an issue if you already have love at a company and are sure they aren't going to "judge" you (read - toss your resume) for appearing to cover up some significant flaw by using a functional resume. Even then, why would you want to?

My vision for the resumes I write for career changers is to show a successful (if ostensibly unrelated) work history headed by a profile describing interest and goodness of fit for the opportunity at hand, using examples of your directly related experience whenever possible. Hiring managers want to see WHY someone is making a big shift. They want it to be because you love what they do and want to be a part of it. Then, they want to know if you are any good at your current occupation and they will likely extrapolate that you'll bring similar success to their organization. Functional resumes don't show this, hence the pervasive suspicion of them among hiring managers.

I recently worked with a Bollywood DJ who had nearly no PM experience, but wanted to work as a Project Manager at Microsoft. I did just as I described above and emphasized his successes and his abilities to pull concerts together, etc., and voila, he was hired. I had faith in him; soon, he had faith in himself too. Had I glossed over his seemingly non-related experience by writing a functional resume, I’m convinced he never would have gotten a second glance.

I’ve done this myself. As a mental health counselor, I had no recruiting experience when I was hired. None. How did I get the job? By emphasizing transferrable skills.

“So, Ms. Walser, have you ever sold anything?”
“Well, I sold a schizophrenic man on the idea that he shouldn’t discuss his belief that he was Jesus while at work.”

“Hmmm, have you ever dealt with clients who are upset that their new employee didn’t show up for work? How would you retain that client?”
“Well, I convinced a man who was sure he could fly not to jump off the third-level deck at the Kingdome during a Mariners game…”

Hired!

If I can do it, so can you. Don’t sell yourself short. What you did before MATTERS!

1 comment:

Working Girl said...

Hey, this is great! I always thought the "functional resume" was a little cheesy, and you've given us a reassonable alternative.

Super!