EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

According to Google, double entry accounting was developed around 1300AD. Shortly thereafter, someone came up with the expression: “Just give me the bottom line.” No one ever talks about the middle line. I have often wondered about that. Haven’t you?

I don’t know about you, but as good accountants and Chief Financial Officers I thought our goal was to prepare comparable financial statements. Documents that not only were accurate and reflective of the organizations we were helping run, but also consistent in format month after month so that our “customers,” all of those non-financial types, would know where to look for the information they required. (I know I prided myself on those year after year matching binders with matching tabs.)

This being our background, I am always amazed and astounded when members of The FENG accept advice from various sources that just flies in the face of any logic. In this case I am talking about providing resumes that are either functional in structure (as opposed to chronological), and/or ones that leave off all dates. I have even seen resumes that have no home address, the logic here being the individual is applying for jobs out of town. (I guess the assumption is that no one will look up the area code of your phone number.)

Resumes have a tried and true structure. It is one that hasn’t been around for quite as long as double entry accounting, but the accepted framework has been working pretty well for as long as I have been in the world of work, and that is quite some time.

As many of you may know, my two backgrounds are advertising and publishing. I have always taken great pride in observing how others use (and abuse) the information I provide them. In the case of resumes, the generally accepted structure allows those who read a lot of resumes to know where to look for information. While there may be some benefit to being innovative in presenting your credentials, deviating dramatically and/or not providing what typical readers expect is only going to get your resume put into the reject pile.

Functional resumes are typically used by those who have some problem with their background. For example, perhaps they have “job hopped.” If you are working through a pile of 200 resumes and you see a functional resume, you immediately know that person has something to hide in their background. Call me silly, but the 15 seconds allotted to the review of each resume by a screener most likely will not allow for a full FBI investigation. (There truly is nothing so nice as a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” on a cold winter day.) Oh how recruiters and human resource professionals enjoy working through the spider web you are providing them — NOT.

And as for leaving off dates, do any members of The FENG honestly believe that those who “eat resumes for a living” are fooled by your omissions? (Does a chicken have lips?) Is it possible that they will think you are younger or older than you really are? There was a member at a recent meeting of the Westport chapter who left the dates off his resume to appear younger. After meeting him, I have to admit that I was surprised to learn that he was 10 years younger than I am. I thought he was older.

What you want to do in preparing your resume is achieve clarity. Presenting your skills within the generally accepted framework will ensure that your background will be absorbed in the least amount of time. Trust me, if someone is screening for age, you aren’t going to get picked anyway.

In the jobs that members of our august body should be targeting, “been there and done that” is what you need to sell. The wealth of experience as evidenced by the banded years you were with this company and that company in specific roles is part of the sell. Specific skills in hot demand need to be displayed under those corporations for them to be credible. Standing alone they have no context.

Innovation in resume structure is like putting “the bottom line” at the top, and I hope you wouldn’t do that. Make the information that people want to see jump off the page. Write, rewrite, and rewrite again that information that makes you a desirable employee.

This approach works a lot better than reinventing that wheel we call a resume.

Regards, Matt

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