Job-seekers at an employment program where I taught resume writing and online job search strategy used to ask me why the program required them to write resumes. My clients argued that they were going to complete online applications or paper applications onsite—sometimes both—so the resume seemed unimportant.
The next objection came from job-seekers in the class that had employment gaps. They wanted to use functional, rather than reverse-chronological resumes despite evidence functional resumes are less effective.
Today prospective clients ask me why they need a resume if they have a LinkedIn profile. This is a very good question, especially in an era when recruiters roam LinkedIn for candidates instead of collecting resume.
There are at least 4 reasons why we still need a traditional reverse-chronological resume:
- The job application is the employer’s document while the resume is your document,
- Your resume is a private communication to those we send it to, but the LinkedIn profile is visible to many people,
- We can customize resumes for different readers, and
- ATS systems work best with reverse-chronological resumes.
You have a great chance to tell your story to a prospective employer when they ask for a resume with your online application.
Why write a resume?
A resume seems redundant when you are going to complete a job application, but you normally have to provide both even though they cover much the same information. Employers will commonly ask for a link to your LinkedIn profile, too.
Everyone that applies for work in medium and large companies will probably have to complete an online application to get a job. Online applications, I’ve observed, will not always let an applicant complete the process without uploading a resume. Also, the resume has to be in a form the online application system, referred to as an applicant tracking system (ATS), can read. In other words, applicants have to submit an electronic resume. Traditional reverse-chronological resume formats, I’ve been told, work best with ATS systems.
The job application is the employer’s document.
Employers create job applications that meet their needs. Typically, online job applications ask for specific demographic information about you, your previous employers, contact information for your former supervisors and references, and details about your education. Some of the applications I’ve seen ask users to upload PDF copies of transcripts, diplomas, and certifications.
The information that HR departments collects on their application form and in their database is probably not the information you want the hiring manager to see first. You may not want to emphasize, for example, that you finished college in 1979. Potential employers will require you to complete their job application. You can present your own document to tell your story.
The resume is your document.
Your resume will emphasize points you want the hiring manager to know. A resume is not a government or corporate form (unless you are applying to the Federal government—they require a special resume format), so you can organize it any way you see fit. You do not have to put dates of graduation on your resume, or list jobs that ended more than ten years ago. References and salaries need not be included on resumes.
Additionally, you can include keywords on a resume that employers are searching for in their applicant tracking systems. For example, if the job posting states the employer requires someone that knows CRM, you can specifically include that knowledge on the resume. The job application may or may not have a logical place for us to include this information.
Your resume is a private document, unlike LinkedIn.
Another notable aspect of the resume in the social media age is that you have a higher degree of control over who sees it than you have over a social media post. You do not need to post it “publicly” for anyone to see on a job board. Instead, you can send it individually to each employer with whom you are seeking employment. This means that you can send each employer a different version of your resume.
LinkedIn and other social media profiles are more public. Everyone with access to your profile will see the same information.
A recent client, for example, is a software engineer and a bankruptcy lawyer. It would have confused recruiters if he posted separate profiles for each career. The profile also looked diluted and unfocused with both careers on it. He is concentrating on his engineering career for now, so we took his law practice off the profile and worked with him to produce a targeted engineering resume that generated immediate interviews.
We would develop a separate, targeted, law firm resume for this client if he wants to pursue his law career for his next job.
Your potential employers are providing an opportunity to present your case the way you want to present it. Take full advantage of this opportunity.
Submit reverse-chronological resumes.
There are two general formats for resumes, and variants of each format. The general formats are reverse-chronological resumes and functional resumes. Today, reverse-chronological resumes, shown in my samples, are the most common because ATS systems can read them. They are easy to interpret because the information about the jobs you did at each company is right under the company name, job title, and dates you worked there.
A “pure” functional resume is appealing to some people because the resume simply describes the job, job functions, and accomplishments without regard to employment dates. It is relatively easy to write and allows the writer to emphasize jobs they did 10 or 20 years ago without disclosing this to the employer. Of course, savvy HR staff and hiring managers know this and are wary of such resumes. In fact, they may not even get the resume from their ATS because the system cannot interpret the resume without a reverse-chronological presentation of employers and dates.
A former recruiter and coach told me she feels this limitation is overcome in part with a “hybrid” format that places employers, job titles, and dates at the bottom of the resume. The problem is that the computer system, HR staff, or external recruiter still cannot match job achievements with employment dates.
The reality is that nearly every job candidate I’ve worked with does at least some of their job search through job boards and company web sites. Even if you do your job search exclusively through networking with industry contacts, you will probably have to submit a resume an ATS can read in order to be hired.
Another issue to consider is that your resume should be aligned with your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn profiles have a reverse-chronological structure, so it is more difficult to align your LinkedIn profile with a functional or hybrid resume.
The reverse-chronological business resume is here to stay until employers ask us for only a LinkedIn profiles or other online information. We would be glad to discuss strategies for developing a great business resume and a matching LinkedIn profile. Just click here to get on our calendar for a complimentary consultation. You may also use the comment section below to ask questions or voice your opinion.