Human resource officers often want chronological resumes. They want to see your progression of jobs and titles over the years. • But Tammy Kabell with Career Resume Consulting in Kansas City says you can have better luck with a functional resume that highlights your skills and accomplishments.
Her tip? Bypass the human resource department and apply directly to a hiring manager before an opening is posted.
"The resumes that are getting the follow-up calls are the ones that are sent directly to hiring managers, by name," she said.
Kabell urges job hunters to use LinkedIn, Google Advanced Search and Spoke.com to find names of appropriate hiring managers.
Then she prefers a snail-mailed resume with a handwritten note — essentially a brief cover letter — that says, "I'd love to talk to you about joining your team," and briefly summarizes, "Here's what I can do to affect your bottom line."
Preferably, you'll get your resume in the hands of the person who most needs and understands what you do.
"If you're sending your resume into an e-mail in-box in response to a posting, it's likely to be scanned and stuck into a database and you'll never hear from them again," Kabell said.
But her technique works only if your one-page — yes, one page — functional resume is perfect for the hirer's needs.
"You can't force a square peg into a round hole," Kabell advises. "You have to give specifics about your experience and quantify how you produced results for your employer."
Avoid jargon and abbreviations, especially if you're selling your skills as transferable from one industry to another.
"If there's no hiring going on in your former niche, make your resume as industry-neutral as possible," she suggests.
With her approach, she says, hirers don't end up with a pile of resumes that all look the same because everyone included the same buzzwords listed in the job ad as required qualifications.
"Buzzwords are for database sorting programs for applications in response to ads. If you're sending individual resumes, you don't have to worry about that," she said.
Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at the Kansas City Star.