Recruiters and HR people hate functional resumes because they can make it harder for them to understand your current job title, because your years of experience may not be obvious, because specific jobs and specific duties probably aren’t linked and, well, just because they don't’ offer an easy to understand chronological check list of your past.
If you are a candidate who perfectly fits the career climbing ladder - one who has the requisite three to five or five to seven years of experience as defined by your job titles, and specific responsibilities coupled with an easily measured and tracked rise in title and responsibility, then, a chronologically arranged resume as most recruiters and HR people prefer, is right for you. It shouts to the recruiter or HR person, “Look at this! I match your requirements and expectations perfectly! Look at me! And, they probably will.
However, if you cannot show that progression, if your accomplishments fall somewhat erratically among different sets of responsibilities and titles that represent part-time appointments, are interspersed with clinical activity, and many of your accomplishments are not reflected directly in your title, then, on the basis of your resume document, you are automatically excluded. If you’re a practicing physician or even one in his/her first nonclinical post, that probably describes you. Those are jobs you simply should not even consider. They are exercises in futility and frustration and serve only one purpose, to demoralize you and make you think you cannot succeed.
This is why (and this is very important) I consistently advise my clients to never, never apply for a posted job and to never expect a recruiter or HR person to embrace them as a viable candidate unless their first interaction is a verbal one based on addressing specific job/organizational problems and a need for intervention they can specifically provide.
Here is a simple test. Would you be terminated by your employer if you were an excellent clinician or surgeon, but failed in all your administrative duties? Usually, let me stress usually, the answer to that question would be no. Sure, you may be replaced on the QA committee, but you would not be terminated from the organization. And that’s the answer most recruiters and HR people would expect. When they see the practicing physician who has had some administrative responsibilities, they immediately assume administration is a secondary or even tertiary responsibility for which little accountability has been expected.
Therefore, how and why does a functional resume work better for you. By its definition, a functional resume serves three purposes.
- It represents a supporting document leave-behind that reinforces the
verbal presentation you’ve just made.
- It identifies and defines your accomplishments in an easy to follow categorical, functional listing.
- And at its best, if provided before a meeting, it can serve as an introduction that peaks the reader’s curiosity to learn more about you.
Therefore, the functional resume is not intended to address a specific job, rather it is intended to represent you. You might even consider it an expansive business card. Since your business card lists your Core Competencies, your functional resume just expands on those, and adds some additional qualifying information.
If by contrast, you simply handed the recruiter your CV or resume that follows a chronological CV-type layout, the recruiter sees a practicing physician who may have some administrative responsibilities. They don’t see someone whose primary responsibilities have held them accountable to administrative results.Back to the functional resume. Its objective is to dispel that perspective and to present you as an administrator or executive who happens to carry a medical degree. And, after all, that’s the person you want to be seen as – right?