I hear so much conflicting advice about resumes. Some people say your experience should be listed by company in reverse chronological order. Others say you should lump all your skills together in paragraphs and not mention the companies.

What is the best way?

-- Confused Dear Confused:

Well, that depends on the person you talk to.

Executive recruiters seem to love chronological resumes and hate "functional" resumes - the ones that play up skills and accomplishments on the first page and mention companies and dates on the second page.

"People want to know where you've worked and what you've done," Patricia Morrill, a recruiter, told a roomful of resume writers at a workshop sponsored by the Financial Women's Association of New York.

When you use a functional resume, she said, it looks as if you're hiding something.

|A Marketing Document'

But that is precisely when you should use one, career counselors say.

Do you want to transfer out of banking, reenter a previous industry, or cover up job hopping? Functional resumes may help.

A functional resume is "less industry specific and helps an employer |think' you in," says Dale Klamfoth, a senior vice president with the New York-based outplacement firm of Drake Beam Morin Inc.

"A resume is a marketing document, not an attendance record."

Mr. Klamfoth has a theory on why recruiters hate functional resumes. Recruiters are scanner, he says. They receive hundreds of resumes every day and need to read through them fast.

These days, hiring managers are often in the same boat.

One senior banker - a woman who has hired at least 75 people in her career - says functional resumes are for the birds. When she is interviewing people with such documents she makes notes in the margin, asking where they worked and when.

A Natural Suspicion

"When they don't tell you where they picked up the skills, you wonder, |Was it at a mom-and-pop grocery store?'"

As for job objectives, the recruiters say to forget them, because

cause they are either vague or limiting. "They are almost always useless," Ms. Morrill told her group of resume writers.

It's ridiculous for a senior executive to say he or she is a dynamic overahiever who excels at solving problems. This is what all corporate jobs are about, Ms. Morrill said.

And forget the summary statement, too. Recruiters want you to jump right in with your companies and experience.

Career counselors, predictably, disagree. But the opinions that really count are those of people who do the hiring.

Bankers who do a lot of hiring can help me clear up this controversy. Give me a call at 212-943-5733 and let me know your preference. I would be happy to pass the information on to other confused readers.

Other resume issues are not so hotly debated. Here are some tips:

* If you're been laid off but are receiving severance, you can give dates on your resume as "19XX to present." There's no need to turn the resume into a tombstone if you don't have to, says Mr. Klamfoth.

He also advises that you show your resume to your former boss for further input.

* If your experience included a stint at a doomed institution - BCCI, for instance - you can write: "Left when company was closed by the state banking department."

* The idea of a one-page resume? "That's ridiculous," says Ms. Morrill, and career counselors agree.

The senior banker I quoted above knows of a chief financial officer who in 48 hours wrote a four-page resume in narrative form. He got the job, she says. "People who read it knew what he could do."

* Multiple resumes are fine, but keep track of which version you send to which people.

* Lying on a resume is the kiss of death.

* Take off the line that says: References furnished on request.

* Finally, read the article "Writing a Computer-Friendly Resume" in the Oct. 26 issue of U.S. News & World Report. It outlines the do's and don'ts of writing resumes that are placed in the growing crop of electronic job data bases.

Remember that banking jargon you were supposed to turn into English? Well, don't do it. Those terms should be included in resumes destined for data bases, which will be searched for key words related to your specialty.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.