July 29, 2005

The Debate: Resume Order Chronologic or Function

There has of late been a movement away from the traditional Reverse Chronological Resume and toward listing by Function. I can see arguments for both. Listing by function gives you the chance to shine by highlighting your skills as grouped together with skills from your past. Reverse chronological order allows you to tell a story about how you came to be where you are today; including the accomplishments that propelled you to the next level in each position.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. But here I think the rule is give the recruiter what they expect to see. The trick is to make your resume fit that expectation as close as possible. (It's not always easy, which is why research is important. But that's another post.)

For instance, if 10-years experience in a particular industry is required then make sure your resume reflects that. Perhaps grouping your job experience by industry is an appropriate approach for that position. This is particulary true if you've done a lot of project based work as a consultant or freelancer.

But by and large a hiring executive wants to see progression. They want to know that not only are you qualified for the position, but that you'll continue to grow in it and contribute to the future of the organization. This is why the default should be reverse chronological order and other ways should be the exception to the rule.