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This guide includes all the information you need about formatting and using a functional resume, like pros and cons, situational usage, and an example.
Functional Resume Guide: Formatting, Pros, and Cons
Writing a resume isn’t everybody’s idea of a good time. Trying to remember the name of this job or that title, what you did when and where, and making it all sound compelling can be difficult. It can be even harder when you’re trying to switch careers or have periods of unemployment.
You may have heard that a functional resume is better for certain job seekers in certain situations. And, while this may be the case, it’s not the whole story. A functional resume isn’t always your best bet and may, in fact, make it harder for you to land an interview.
What Is a Functional Resume?
A functional resume, sometimes called a skills-based resume , puts the focus on your skills and not your job history. That doesn’t mean you leave your work history off your resume. It just means you draw the recruiter’s attention to your skills and abilities.
In a chronological resume , the “meat” of your resume is the list of all the jobs you’ve held in reverse chronological order. Under each job are a list of your job duties, skills, and accomplishments.
However, on a functional resume, the meat is your skills and achievements . Instead of listing your jobs, you group your skills by type of experience and list out the specific things you can do in each of these areas. None of these skills are tied to a specific job or experience, and instead, stand on their own.
Pros and Cons of Functional Resumes
While a functional resume has its place in job hunting, it’s the least commonly used resume format . And there are several reasons why most recruiters and job coaches will tell you to avoid using a functional resume.
You may find that the disadvantages of a functional resume may ultimately outweigh the benefits of using one. However, there may be a few select times when a functional resume is the right choice in your job search.
Functional Resume Disadvantages
Not to be a downer, but it’s important to cover the disadvantages of functional resumes before covering the advantages. This is not meant to talk you out of using one. However, knowing what the cons are first will help put the pros into context.
Recruiters Might Dislike Them
Recruiters dislike functional resumes for two reasons. First, like it or not, when a recruiter sees a functional resume, it could raise a red flag. The thought is that job seekers use a functional resume to hide things. That could be a spotty work history or inconsistent career growth . Or, it could be nothing at all. But, in general, a recruiters’ first thought is that you’re hiding something, and that makes them nervous.
The other reason recruiters dislike functional resumes is that they are hard to read . By this, we mean that recruiters don’t only care about your skills. They want to know how and where you learned those skills. That gives the recruiter relevant information about your skills.
For example, you say you have killer fundraising skills. Great. But, did you learn those skills working for a large nonprofit with an international reach? Or, did you gain those skills working for the local PTA? Those are two very different organizations, and it means your skills and experiences will be vastly different.
Without a job to tie your skills to, your resume lacks meaning and context, making it hard for a recruiter to figure out if you’re worth an interview. And, generally speaking, if a recruiter has to work too hard to figure out what your worth as a candidate is, you’re probably ending up in the no pile.
Doesn’t Tell the Full Story
Along the same lines, a functional resume may not tell the full story about your career progression. It’s hard to tell your career story and demonstrate growth because you aren’t telling the story in a straight line.
For example, on a chronological resume compared to a functional resume , you can show that your first job out of college was working in a call center. Then, a few years later, you were promoted to team leader. A few years after that, you became an account manager and then the head of corporate accounts.
Yes, you can demonstrate growth with a functional resume, too. But, the difference is that with a chronological resume, you’re better able to show that not only did you progress in your career, you gained new skills and experiences as a result of your previous experiences, which helped you in the next one.
On a functional resume, you may have the same story, but it’s harder to demonstrate the growth when the skills and experiences are separated from the job history. There may be career advancement, but without the relevant skills attached to the job, it’s just a bunch of skills and jobs that may or may not mean anything in relation to each other.
Machines Can’t Read Them
Many companies, large and small, use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to help scan and rate resumes. While this allows companies to sort through far more resumes than a human can, the ATS is still just a machine that’s programmed by humans.
That programming tells the ATS to look for certain phrases and keywords. In many cases, it’s told to look for those keywords in a certain spot, like, say, under a job title. Since a functional resume doesn’t have keywords associated with job titles, there’s a chance that your resume will end up in the “pass” pile because the right keywords were in the “wrong” place .
Functional Resume Advantages
Now you now the potential downsides and why it can make hiring managers or recruiters skeptical. But, let’s talk about the ways a functional resume can work in your favor.
Helps Employment Gaps
There are plenty of valid reasons to sit out of work for a while. And, those reasons shouldn’t hold you back from finding a job. Unfortunately, many employers see a gap in employment history as a red flag.
There’s no way to hide your employment gaps on a chronological resume. And, there’s really no way to hide it on a functional resume, either. But, when you use a functional resume, you’re putting your focus on the relevant skills you bring to the table, instead of the fact that you haven’t worked continuously.
Putting the spotlight on what you have versus what you don’t have may be enough to override the employment gap red flag and get you in the door for an interview.
Advantageous to Career Changers
Career pivots happen for many reasons. However, going from accountant to glassblower isn’t as easy as taking a few classes and applying for some jobs.
Using a functional resume is a great way to highlight your transferable skills . By showcasing what you already have as an employee, you can demonstrate to the recruiter that you know what you’re doing, just not in that particular arena. This can make you a more desirable employee because while you have to learn certain nuances of the job, some of the bigger picture items—like how to communicate effectively—are skills you already possess.
Makes Sense of an Odd Work History
Maybe you always wanted to work in a kitchen and was a line cook for a few years. Maybe you volunteered in the animal shelter and want to get paid for it. You’ve got the skills and experience that employers want, they just may not see it on a chronological resume when you’ve held some unusual jobs.
But, using a functional resume may help you translate those experiences into useful skills that the employer is looking for . For example, working in the kitchen probably means you manage stress well and tight deadlines well, making you a great candidate for a customer service role. And, volunteering at the animal shelter may make you the perfect person for the receptionist position in the vet clinic.
On a functional resume, it’s not just about where you worked, it’s about what you learned . Sometimes the skills you possess are far more important to an employer than where you learned that skill.
When to Use a Functional Resume
As a rule, you shouldn’t use a functional resume in your job search. They may not provide recruiters with the context they need to move forward and machines have difficulty processing them. However, there are some situations when you can use a functional resume to your advantage.
Brie Reynolds, Career Development Manager and Coach at FlexJobs, says that a functional resume can have its place in your job search. But, don’t use it when you’re applying online. “A functional resume works best when it’s being sent to an individual via email or being handed to someone at a job fair or another face-to-face meeting.”
This works because it gives you a chance to explain your resume, connect the dots for the recruiter, and tell your full employment story—complete with transferable skills!
Functional Resume Format
If you think a functional resume is right for your job search, make sure you’re formatting it properly. And, that means more than getting the right keywords in the right spot.
In many regards, formatting a functional resume is the same as formatting a chronological resume . Follow the same rules regarding fonts and other “fancy” items (like accent colors) to make your resume easy to read.
Like a chronological resume, a functional resume starts with your contact information at the top. That includes your name, email address, and any social profiles you want to include.
You can include a professional summary just below your contact information. However, because your whole resume highlights your skills, the professional summary on a functional resume can be shorter than on other resumes. You want to avoid repeating what you say in the summary in your skills sections.
Give a brief overview of who you are as a professional and what you can offer the company in terms of broad skill sets. Stick with about three or four sentences at most.
Below the summary is where things get radically different. Instead of listing your jobs in reverse chronological order, you list your skills and experiences by group . And, instead of listing your job duties as bullet points under your job title, you list your skills and experiences under skills categories.
This section is titled “Areas of Expertise,” “Skills,” “Professional Skills,” or even “Qualifications.” Below that header, you create skills categories. Examples can include “Customer Service,” “Administrative Skills,” “Marketing,” “Organizational and Leadership Skills,” “Computer and Technical Skills,” “Sales,” or “Design Skills.”
Create whatever categories you want based on what skills you want to highlight. Limit yourself to your top three or four categories and keep them as broad as possible .
Under each broad category, you describe the specific skills in greater detail, without going overboard. If you can, tie the skill to an achievement at a job and explain how that achievement had a positive impact for the employer.
Here’s an example:
- Increased advertising revenue by 20% through market research and promotion.
- Organize, style, and create copy for annual gift catalog.
- Used web analytics tools to track performance; identified weaknesses to increase email sign-ups by 14%.
- Created and executed email marketing campaigns for clients resulting in a 14% conversion rate.
As you can see, these are specific, concrete examples of problems identified, actions taken, and the results achieved.
The above example is a “hard” skill. But, you can also categorize and give examples of your “soft” skills .
Customer Service Skills
- Greet and interact with an average of 125 clients per day.
- Respond to client questions and proactively address their concerns.
- Promote product at trade shows throughout the country.
After you’ve highlighted your top three or four categories, list your work history. Unlike a chronological resume, your work history is very brief . It’s the name of the company, your job title, and your dates of employment.
You do not list any job duties, accomplishments, or skills under your job titles because you covered all of those in the skills section.
If you had any internships, list them here in the same format as work experience. Again, you do not list any skills or accomplishments because they are covered in the skills section.
Below work experience is your education. This is formatted the same way as any other resume, which is the name of the school, the dates you attended, and any degrees you received.
Similar to work history, if there’s volunteer experience you’d like to share, this is the section for it. And, again, just like work history, you only list where you volunteered, what your position was, and how long you volunteered for.
If you picked up any skills during your volunteering that may be relevant to the job, list them under the skills section like you would for any skills you gained from a paid job.
Functional Resume Example
Looking for something to get your started? Check out this functional resume sample:
Choosing the Best Resume Format
A functional resume can have a place in a job search . However, most experts say you should use them rarely since most employers dislike them. If you have the opportunity to apply in person and you think a functional resume can help you, consider having one ready to go.
In most cases, you should use a chronological resume. But if you’re worried about employment gaps or you’re switching careers, a chronological resume may not be the right choice either. In these cases, consider a hybrid resume , which is the best of a functional resume and a chronological resume .
However, if you’d like some expert advice on formatting a functional resume, or if you need help deciding if you should use one, talk to a FlexJobs career coach .
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Advantages & disadvantages of a functional resume.
Whether you've been out of work for a while or you're a recent college graduate without a long work history, a functional resume can work for you because you're primarily writing down your most relevant work experiences rather than arranging your work history by date. For example, if you're writing your resume as a college graduate and most of your experiences consisted of internships and volunteer work, you should include mainly the jobs that are relevant to the job you're applying to. If you're applying for a secretary position with a local law firm, you can mention that you interned with city hall as a public relations assistant.
With a functional resume, you trim down any unnecessary information and stick to your most important work experiences if you have a long work history and held many different positions. If you worked as a waitress, restaurant manager and head chef in a 10-year period and you're applying for a job as the manager of a wholesale restaurant supply store, you can narrow your resume by focusing on your experiences as a restaurant manager.
A disadvantage of having a functional resume is that it will look as if you lack a steady and stable work history because of possible gaps in this type of resume. Because of this, potential employers may assume that you're a "job hopper" who lacks the discipline and commitment to stick to a certain job for a long period of time. And because some functional resumes may not reflect a certain type of work history for a specific job, this could hinder your chances of landing an interview.
Before writing your resume, compile a list of all the jobs you held and determine whether a functional or chronological resume would be the best fit for you. You may also be able to write a combination resume, which blends aspects of both the functional and chronological resume. According to CareerBuilder, a combination resume can help you if you're trying to change careers but you don't have enough experience in the new career you're choosing.
What is a functional summary on a resume →.
How to List College Degrees on Resumes →
Resume Format for Many Jobs →
What Do You Put on a Resume if You Are Laid Off? →
CV Vs. Resume →
How to Put a Bachelor's Degree on a Resume →
Thea Theresa English is a freelance writer who lives in New Orleans. She has written articles on career development, maintaining healthy relationships, politics and cultural issues. She is currently a graduate student at Tulane University where she will receive her Master of Liberal Arts degree.
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The Disadvantages of a Functional Resume
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Functional resumes are very different from the traditional chronological format that many people consider to be the standard amongst resumes types. While chronological resumes list your prior positions and experience in order, as they happened, functional resumes reduce the whole lot into a statement of skills and accomplishments without concern for timing and order.
Functional resumes do have a definite purpose for some applicants, but they can have their disadvantages as well, points out jobs website, Monster.com . Reviewing the pros and cons of different types of resumes will help you choose the best format for you.
Functional Resumes Looks Different
A major problem with functional resumes is their immediately recognizable format. Functional resumes are different in layout than traditional chronological resumes and as such, it takes just a glance from a hiring professional to notice that you did not supply your information in the standard format.
In some cases this may be as far as your functional resume gets with an employer, since many do not consider the functional format, nor the issues they assume it is hiding, to be worth any further consideration. It may go straight into the shredder without ever having been read.
Red Flags for Employers
Functional resumes are a great tool for those who do not have an impressive lineup of prior positions and accomplishments or who wish to gloss over some gaps in employment or possible age issues. One of the disadvantages of resumes like this is that prospective employers also know these tricks and may be skeptical of your functional resume.
The lack of specific dates, company names and positions held leaves too many question marks for many employers to take your resume seriously. If an employer is impressed enough by your functional resume to call you in for an interview, you can expect to be grilled on your career specifics in an attempt to fill in the blanks and allay any fears that your resume left unaddressed.
Functional Resumes Lack Context
Because functional resumes can be unclear, some hiring professionals do not accept them as representations of your actual experience. Chronological resumes list every position you have held in the past, the dates you held them and the skills you used or attained in the job. A functional resume deletes most of this information and lists only the skills.
Without a solid context to go with your basic skills information, prospective employers and hiring professionals cannot judge whether your experience relates to the industry for which you are applying, how closely past jobs align with the open position or how many years of experience you actually have. Employers are likely to choose someone with a solid, well-defined background over an applicant with an enigmatic history.
Lack of Experience Shows
Employers see functional resumes as indicators that the applicant lacks a developed base of experience, points out Sienna Heights University . Since functional resumes are often used by students coming straight out of school, the lack of chronological listings can indicate a clear lack of real-world experience.
The best way to get around this problem is to explain your choice of resume format and your approach to the job search in your cover letter. If your letter is impressive and direct enough to get the attention of the hiring professional, he may not even go as far as your resume, or at least use a less critical eye when reviewing it.
- Monster: Resume format tips for functional resumes
- Sienna Heights University: Which Resume Style is for You?
Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.
What is a functional summary on a resume, strengths & weaknesses of the curriculum vitae format, how to upload a cv for jobs, how to avoid putting employment dates on a resume, how to create a professional return to workforce resume, difference between summary of qualifications and work experience on a resume, resume format & correct spacing, how to format a resume with lots of experience, how to write a resume, cover letter & list of references, most popular.
- 1 What Is a Functional Summary on a Resume?
- 2 Strengths & Weaknesses of the Curriculum Vitae Format
- 3 How to Upload a CV for Jobs
- 4 How to Avoid Putting Employment Dates on a Resume
The pros and cons of a functional resume
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Functional resumes focus on a person’s skills and experience, rather than on his chronological work history. (Here is an example of a functional resume.) You would use a functional resume for a couple of reasons: Your background is varied and doesn’t add up to a focused career path You want to move into a field ...
Functional resumes focus on a person’s skills and experience, rather than on his chronological work history. (Here is an example of a functional resume .) You would use a functional resume for a couple of reasons:
- Your background is varied and doesn’t add up to a focused career path
- You want to move into a field that is totally different from the one where most of your experience lies
- You have large gaps in your work history–months or years where you were not employed
- You’ve held a lot of jobs in a few years and you don’t want to give the appearance that you’re a job hopper
- You’re fresh out of college and want to spotlight your knowledge and not your work experience
Keep in mind, however, that there are a few drawbacks to a functional resume:
- Some job boards, like monster.com, don’t accept them
- Headhunters tend not to accept them
- Suspicious hiring managers sometimes think job candidates who use functional resumes are trying to hide something
- It’s important to put some skills in context with a specific job. If you have database management experience, for example, it carries more weight if you can associate it with a specific job you held for a few years, rather than just listing it as a skill. To a hirer manager, just listing it as a skill could mean you merely read a book about it.
If you can avoid using a functional resume, you should.
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Chronological vs. functional resume
By Pattie Hunt Sinacole
Q: It’s been more than 2 years since I was last employed. Should I change the chronological format of my resume to one that highlights my work experience (35+ years) rather than show the gap in employment? I have already deleted the second page of my resume because it was no longer pertinent to a background in mechanical drafting.
A: Great question. Let me share the advantages and disadvantages of both the chronological resume and the functional resume.
The chronological resume typically has an objective or summary at the top. Then, the candidate’s work history is detailed starting with the present role and working backwards. The education section is at the bottom sometimes along with special skills, certifications or relevant training.
Advantages: Most employers and hiring professionals are familiar reviewing this type of format. It is easy to follow for the reader, perhaps because the chronological resume is more commonly used.
This type of format highlights the candidates’ most recent experience, which is often the most relevant. It is also easy to follow a career progression with this type of resume.
Disadvantages: This format can accentuate gaps in a candidate’s work history. It may not be the best format for career changers or those re-entering the workforce.
The functional resume groups together common skills. As an example, there may be skills headings like management/supervisory skills, technical skills, sales skills or scientific skills. A candidate’s work history is provided toward the bottom of the resume. Education, certifications, and special skills are often detailed at the very end of this type of resume.
Advantages: The format can help a candidate highlight capabilities and skills which are transferrable, which is good for candidates changing careers. A functional resume can de-emphasize short stints within a career. This format can also minimize the focus on periods of unemployment.
Disadvantages: This type of resume is a bit more difficult to review, from the reader’s perspective. Many hiring professionals are taught to look for gaps in a candidate’s work history. This format tends to make this process more challenging. The focus is more on transferrable skills but sometimes the employer’s names are hard to find if this format is used.
Finally, you may want to using a functional resume and comparing it to the chronological version you have been using. One final tip for your resume: if you have 35 plus years of experience, consider dropping the months off of your chronological format. Instead of May, 1991 – November, 2011, consider 1991 – 2011. This tip may also help take the focus off of your recent period of unemployment.
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December 3rd, 2008 3 Types of CVs: their Advantages and Disadvantages
These are 3 types of cvs: their advantages and disadvantages. they’re discussed so that you as a job seeker can make an informed decision on the best cv for you to use..
By Catherine Adenle
Explore these 3 types of CVs: their advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking for a job or about to change your career, it’s vital that you know the right type of CV to use as well as its advantages and disadvantages.
As a job seeker, it’s important that you know how these 3 types of CVs differ from each other. It’s also important that you know their formats and why they are used by most job seekers. Putting together an effective CV is easy once you know how to do it. In addition, once you know the right CV format to use, it’s a case of taking all your skills, achievements and job experience and tailoring them to the job that you’re applying for.
However, how you format your CV or Resume is one of the most important primary decisions for you to make when you want to write and send an effective CV to a potential employer. If the format of your CV is not right, it will affect how you showcase your information in terms of skills, achievements, career highlights and qualifications.
The hiring manager has about ten seconds to quickly scan your CV, hence it is important that you draw him in so that he sees the most valuable piece of information first.
See 3 Popular CV Formats: Know the Right One for You
Here we explore these 3 types of CV: their advantages and disadvantages – why and how you may use one of them. We have also provided a sample of each of the 3 popular CV formats for you to download and tweak.
3 types of CVs: their advantages and disadvantages
The first one of the 3 types of CVs is a Chronological CV – It focuses on presenting the candidate’s experience on an employer by employer basis, with the posts being listed in reverse chronological order. It contains the detail of education and qualifications, together with hobbies. Some chronological CVs also contain a brief personal statement at the front which sets out the key skills and strengths of the candidate. This is the most common type of CV.
How to structure a chronological CV
A chronological CV typically uses the following structure:
- Personal details (i.e. name and contact details)
- Personal profile or career objectives. This should not exceed 5 lines.
- Employment in reverse chronological order. Under each employer, you should set out a number of bullet points which describe your key achievements. In order to be fully effective, you should ensure that you use power words.
- Key qualifications
- Professional memberships
- Hobbies and personal interests
- Particularly useful for those applying within the same industry as it will demonstrate your career progression.
- It is the favourite format for most employers, who simply want to get a feel for your career to date.
- If you do not have many achievements across your career, taking a job by job approach will save you having a separate “Achievements” section (characteristic of Functional CVs) which may look tiny.
- If you have gaps in your employment which you would rather not discuss, a chronological CV will make them more obvious.
- If you are changing career direction, a chronological CV will add little information to your new employer, who will be more concerned about the transferable skills that you are bringing rather than the detail of your experience in an unrelated sector.
See Chronological CV format example
The second one of the 3 Types of CVs is a Functional CV . Unlike a chronological CV, a functional CV places the emphasis on your skills and expertise rather than the chronology of your employment to date.
Free CV or Resume Example Templates
A functional CV typically starts with a personal profile which highlights the achievements, skills and personal qualities that you possess. This is then followed by a succession of sections, each relating to a different skill or ability. These should be ordered in decreasing order of importance. Instead of focussing on any particular job, you should describe your experience in its globality. Since you are not focussing on any particular past employment, this means you can include any skills or experience gained in voluntary or unpaid work. Here are examples of functional headings that are commonly found.
- If you have changed jobs frequently, if your experience is a mish-mash of seemingly unrelated posts or if you have several career gaps, a functional CV will help place the emphasis on what you have to offer as a whole rather than on the chronology.
- If you are changing industry, a functional CV will help the recruiter focus on your transferable skills.
- If you are a more mature applicant, a functional CV will take the spotlight away from your age.
- If you do not have much work experience, you may struggle to highlight achievements in a separate section.
- A functional CV will not enable you to highlight a consistent career progression. If you wish to convey career progression, you should adopt a chronological format.
To conclude the CV, you should then a list of employers and employment dates, as well as a section on your qualification. The last section should focus on your personal details and hobbies/interests.
Functional CV format example
The final one of the 3 types of CVs is a Combined CV. It follows both the chronological and functional formats, which makes the CV slightly longer than normal.
- Perfect format if you have a strong career progression with many achievements.
- Enables you to sell your strengths as well as your experience
- Lengthier than a functional or chronological CV
- Failing to get the attention with the right profile at the start of the CV may result in the whole CV remaining unread.
- Not suitable for those with little experience or achievements.
- Not suitable for those with employment gaps
Combined CV format example
Tips for all 3 Types of CVs’ formats:
- Get the basics right
- Make it 2pp of A4.
- Always tailor your CV to the job you want
- Read the job description before you tailor your CV.
- Include all your contact details.
- Use bullet points and lay each point out clearly; it makes it easy for the hiring manager to notice and invite you for an interview.
- List skills, achievements, qualification, work experience and include dates.
- Allow enough white spaces in between your text, boxes and bullet points.
- Use relevant action verbs and keywords as requested via the job description.
- Get another person to check your CV and use a spell checker.
- Never include your photo, age, nationality, sex or religion.
See How to Write a Winning CV
See Trim the Fat Off Your CV: 25 Things to Take Out
Now that you have explored these 3 types of CVs: their advantages and disadvantages, you will know the right one for you. Download the sample, tweak it and add your details, achievements, skills, education information in order to make it your own CV.
Need to add more tips to the ones above or comment on the 3 types of CVs explored above? Let’s hear from you. Add your comments below.
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Functional resume sample.
There are three styles of resumes in use today: combination, functional and chronological. Each style has its strengths and weaknesses. The functional resume is most effective for individuals that want to emphasize what they know, and not where they've worked in the past.
Because a resume is like an advertisement, job seekers want to use a format that best highlights their job skills , and accomplishments . Each format has a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right resume depends on two critical factors:
- The amount, consistency, and depth of work experience accumulated so far in a career.
- How well the target job is aligned with past work experience.
The Functional Resume
This format emphasizes what the writer knows and what they've accomplished, rather than where they've worked. This allows the reader to see all of the skills, accomplishments, and qualifications of the job applicant presented in a logical fashion.
Immediately below is a complete listing of each section appearing in a functional resume. As each of the sections is reviewed, it will be clear this format does not include a listing of prior work history. At the end of this article, there are links to a sample document that can be downloaded for free.
Name / Contact Information
Like most resumes, this format starts off with a banner that includes the writer's name and contact information such as street address, telephone number, and email address.
The next section is a table of the job seeker's educational background. Many job listings provide both the "required" and "desired" level of education. If this information is deemed important by the individuals screening each applicant, then it's better to place it upfront in the document. The applicant is either qualified or not qualified for a job.
Honors / Certifications / Licenses Held
The third section in this format contains a bulleted list of the certifications, educational honors, or professional licenses held. For example, a certified public accountant would include that accreditation in this section of the resume.
Careers Skills / Knowledge
The fourth section is a bulleted listing or table of the skills and knowledge accumulated over time. This section has a good deal of visibility on this document, so it's important to take the time needed to make sure it accurately represents the knowledge possessed.
The next, and final, section of this resume should contain a bulleted listing of the most significant career accomplishments. Listing career achievements, skills, and knowledge upfront adds to the overall attractiveness of the functional format.
An example of a career achievement might look like:
Developed custom accounting application for use in startup business; reducing the number of accounting data reporting errors by 90%.
It might seem rather strange that a functional resume does not include a listing of where the applicant has worked in the past and the job titles held. As discussed in this next section, this can actually be a very big advantage to some job applicants .
The list below details some of the strengths of a functional resume:
- If the writer's career path is not immediately apparent, this format can help conceal that perceived "problem."
- If someone is new to the workplace, such as a graduating college student, then this format helps to highlight what is known, not where the person has worked.
- When there are employment gaps, this format can help to conceal this from the reader. Unlike a chronological resume, it isn't necessary to outline where the writer has worked in the past.
- If the job applicant has changed jobs frequently, a functional resume can help hide what might look like job-hopping.
- Finally, since this format does not bring attention to job titles, it's the ideal approach for someone that might be deemed "overqualified," or is looking for significantly more responsibility.
Listed below is the major weakness of a functional resume:
- The big disadvantage of this format is the hiring manager might be looking for the very information this resume avoids. Unfortunately, this can make the hiring manager suspicious, so it's important to make sure the advantages outweigh the disadvantages before selecting this format.
While the above information helps to explain the outline of this resume, it's easier to illustrate how this information is applied with an example: Functional Resume Sample . This document can be used as a starting point, or template, when composing an actual resume.
Chronological and Combination Resumes
If the functional resume does not seem well-suited to a particular situation, there are two other formats to choose from. In fact, it's a good idea to become familiar with both the chronological and combination resume formats before preparing or finalizing a resume.
Note : This website also has a number of resume writing resources , including additional examples to download , as well as writing tips .
About the Author - Functional Resume
What the Heck Is a Functional Resume, and When Should You Use One?
Hot jobs on the muse.
When done right, your resume should showcase your most relevant experience as it relates to the role for which you’re applying. The goal, of course, is to help a hiring manager understand how your unique set of skills lines up with their needs—and that you’re the ideal person for the job.
No sweat, right?
I know, I know. Creating a customized resume for every job you apply to is no easy task. Especially if your work history isn’t an exact match for the job you want, if you don’t have recent work experience to speak of, or if you haven’t technically held a traditional job before.
Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just list all your skills out without having to worry about making your work history look cohesive? Like, say, on a functional resume?
What Is a Functional Resume?
A functional resume, sometimes called a skills-based resume , places the focus on your skills and areas of expertise, rather than on the details of your work history. So instead of simply listing your recent jobs and corresponding duties in reverse chronological order (like you would on a more traditional chronological resume ), you’d select only the most relevant responsibilities from each of your past roles and combine them to paint a broader picture of your skill set.
Like any other resume, a functional layout features your name and contact information at the top and lists your technical skills, interests, and education toward the bottom (unless you’re a recent graduate—in that case it may be closer to the top).
The difference is that the body of a functional resume highlights your most important skills—such as “administrative experience” or “customer service”—with three to five bullet points that show how you’ve applied those skills in various roles. Then your work history would appear as a simple list below your skills section, where you’d only include your job title, the name of your employer, the city where you worked, and your dates of employment. (Check out our example functional resume below to get a sense of how that works.)
Because this layout places the primary focus on your relevant skills, functional resumes allow you to better tailor the content to a specific role you’re hoping to land, without having to worry too much about job titles that don’t sound relevant, gaps in employment, or an eclectic work history.
Should You Use a Functional Resume in Your Job Search?
Probably not. Whether it’s fair or not, recruiters often see functional resumes as a red flag and might assume that the applicant behind the resume is trying to hide something, like a lack of qualifications. So although a skills-based resume might be an effective way to highlight your relevant experience, this resume format greatly decreases your chances of landing an interview.
Recruiters want to learn as much as they possibly can about an applicant from their resume, so they’re going to be looking to find out which companies you’ve worked at, your tenure in each role, and what you’ve achieved in each position. When you bury these details at the bottom of your resume (or exclude them completely), a recruiter is likely to assume that your background must not be a very strong fit.
Recruiters are also notoriously short on time, often reviewing hundreds of resumes a day. They don’t want to be forced to scour your resume for relevant details—your resume should, ideally, be very easy to scan. And because functional resumes aren’t terribly common, a recruiter might have a harder time making sense of an alternative format. (Instead, you might consider using a combination resume .)
So When Can You Use a Functional Resume?
Red flags aside, there are times when a functional resume may still be your best option. For instance:
When you don’t have recent experience. If it’s been a few years (or more!) since you last held a traditional job, you may not want your less-than-recent work history to be the first thing a hiring manager notices when they pull up your resume. Leading with your skills could be a good way to pique a recruiter’s interest before they have a chance to review your dates of employment.
When you’re making a major career pivot. If you’ve collected an array of transferable skills throughout your work experience but have never used them in the context of a single role, a skills-based resume might allow you to demonstrate how your unique abilities will translate into the next act of your career.
When you don’t have a lot of actual work experience. Functional resumes enable you to be a little more creative with your work history and allow for some flexibility in the skills you choose to highlight. For example, you probably developed some great research skills as a student, solid scheduling experience when you headed the PTA committee, or exceptional customer service acumen that time you volunteered for that political campaign.
When your work history is all over the place. If you’ve held a string of short-term positions or worked in a variety of roles (I’m looking at you, freelancers and temp workers—no judgment, I’m one, too!), using a functional resume may be a great way to organize your experience into a more cohesive story.
When your relevant experience isn’t rooted in traditional work. Say you’re an avid cyclist or a model plane enthusiast, and you want to apply for a customer service job at a bike shop or to be a docent at an aviation museum. Or maybe you’ve volunteered in a soup kitchen for the past few years and want to land a job as a server. You’d probably want to feature the skills you’ve picked up as a volunteer or hobbyist, while also highlighting your other, more traditional experience. A functional resume could be a great way to bring it all together.
What’s a Good Example of a Functional Resume?
Similar to a traditional resume, a functional layout should still include your contact information , education , work or volunteer experience , and technical skills . The main difference is that your skills and achievements will be featured prominently in the body of the resume. If it makes sense, you can separate your skills into subcategories to make it easier to read. You may also want to consider including a brief resume summary to tie everything together.
Here’s what that could look like:
Download an Example Functional Resume
What Else Should I Keep in Mind When Making a Functional Resume?
If you’re going to give drafting a functional layout a shot, keep in mind that the tried and true best practices of resume writing still apply. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Keep your resume to a single page (this is true for basically everyone except those decades into their careers—in which case a two-page resume isn’t out of the question).
- Include clear, concise headlines (like “Areas of Expertise” and “Work Experience”) to break up each section, thus making your resume easier to scan.
- Use compelling verbs to describe your skills and accomplishments (words like achieved, led, directed, streamlined, or solved).
- Attribute a tangible, measurable outcome to each job duty whenever possible.
- Tailor the content of your resume to the job you’re applying for, including relevant keywords where appropriate (this is for the hiring manager to skim and for the ATS to give you the thumbs up).
Whenever possible, you should stick to a traditional resume to keep recruiters from making unfavorable assumptions about your experience. But if you know that a chronological layout won’t properly tell your story in a compelling way, a functional resume may help.
Just remember that you might be starting off at a disadvantage when it comes to your resume, so you’ll also need to have a strong networking plan, a consistent application strategy, and an exceptional cover letter .
Functional Resume: Everything You Need to Know
What Is A Functional Resume?
When to use a functional skills-based type of resume, pros and cons of a functional skills-based resume format:, how to create a skills based functional resume step-by-step, additional tips, functional resume example with enhancv:, what other alternatives are there for the functional resume format, takeaways: functional resume.
Considering a career switch or having gaps in your employment history? Is there a way to tone this down on your resume and still get noticed by recruiters?
You bet there is!
All you need to do is to focus on your skills in your CV.
A resume that highlights your skills-set is known as a functional or skill-based resume. It’s a bit different from the traditional one, but it can still land you the job interview you are after.
To all job seekers and career-changers out there, this might be the right format for you. Read on to find out!
Here’s what you’ll find in this article:
- what a functional resume is, examples of what it looks like, and a completely free template to use;
- we will have a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of the competency-based CV;
- and finally, give you advice on creating and formatting a functional resume to emphasize your most valuable, transferable skills.
Let’s dive in!
BUILD MY RESUME NOW
As the name suggests, a functional or skills-based resume is orientated around your skills. Instead of prioritizing your work history and job titles like on traditional resume templates, the focus is mainly on your transferable abilities and expertise.
Are there any more differences between a functional and a chronological resume format? Let's find out.
Skills-based Resume vs Traditional (Chronological) Resume
Functional resumes are known to be in reverse chronological order because you start off by describing your most recent and relevant work experience. Then, you continue to work your way backwards towards every job position you’ve taken on in the past.
The biggest difference between a traditional and a functional resume format is that the latter is in reverse chronological format, and puts a stronger focus on your skillset.
Reverse Chronological Resume Format
This format describes your most recent job position or titles first and continues backwards. But you have to be realistic and consider whether this structure is going to be right and best for you to use.
Naturally, it has its own advantages as well as setbacks that could potentially increase or damage your job opportunity chances. But later, we’ll have a look at if you should use a functional or skills-based resume for yourself or not.
Focus On Your Skillset
Do you have what the job board needs? Can you help them take less burden off their shoulders and take on the job responsibilities?
Using the different elements from both your skills and professional knowledge demonstrates to the hiring managers whether you’re a qualified applicant or not. It’s the main reason apart from having gaps in your employment experience that make the functional format convenient. You’re showcasing your most relevant strengths so recruiters can see specific highlights from your career timeline.
Combining all the elements from your work history, achievements and skills is also a powerful way to increase your job interview chances. This is known as a combination resume.
You should emphasize how your skills and expertise make you more than a qualified candidate for the job vacancy. Although recruiters may not see an in-depth description of your corporate background, you can still set yourself apart with your transferable skills and strengths.
Now, you know the difference between a functional resume vs traditional resume. But when is the right time to use the functional format?
The skills-based resume’s aim is to highlight your strongest skills that make you capable of doing what the company needs you to do.
There are five main occasions when it’s ideal to use a functional resume, see below.
You’re a recent college or university graduate, or someone without a lot of professional work experience
In this case, if you used a traditional or combination resume instead, you won’t have as much experience to show for. And, If you lack the formal background or certifications and qualifications, having a competency-based CV helps with conveying to employers that you understand your job responsibilities.
You’re considering a major difference and a new direction in the journey of your career
Are you making a drastic change from one industry to another?
If you are a career-changer, you can test between using either a combination or a functional resume to see which has a higher response rate. If you have a lot of experience in a strong correlation to the new job position you’re applying for, it’s more ideal for employers to see a combination resume. But if not, you can use the functional format.
You have transferable and applicable skills or experience for the next job vacancy you desire
Do you have a lot of experience not in one particular field, but on the scale of a broad variety of different roles you’ve taken on in the past?
Rather than attempting to stitch and put all those pieces together, the skills-based format will help you have a clean resume. It’s more neatly organized for your reader since the information is more put together and isn’t completely scattered everywhere.
You’ve been unemployed for a considerable amount of time
If you haven’t been employed for quite some time now (1 year and over), and you decide to use a chronological resume, it might not be as pleasant for the recruiter to see that the last time you worked was a couple of years ago.
Unless you have a strong, stable track record with promising references, a functional resume is a good alternative to showcase what you’re capable of rather than your recent work history that employers might see as unreliable since you’ve been out of it for a while.
You’ve remained in one industry or field of work for several years
This means that you might lack experience in the new field of work you’re thinking of applying for. If so, a functional resume would work because the format is designed for you to showcase your professional and transferable skills or expertise that will benefit the new industry you’re heading towards.
Suppose you have a fair amount of corporate, professional, or formal work experience that you can talk about. In that case, it’s far more beneficial for you to have a chronological or combination resume. This way, those job positions with the responsibilities and upper-ranking job titles you’ve had will differentiate you from the rest of the crowd as a knowledgeable veteran who knows what they’re doing.
The functional format is in reverse chronological order and is most effective when you have gaps in your employment. In order to make up for that, you emphasize your skill sets that are going to be valuable so you can perform better and at a high standard.
Let’s take a quick look at what a conventional skills-based resume looks like with the following example:
In Joe’s functional resume template, he has his skills summary first followed along with a professional accomplishments section. In this format, we can notice there are gaps between his work history and education. Since they’re left at the bottom, it’s not meant for the recruiter to focus more on, but rather on his ability and achievements.
(Side note: later on in this guide, you’ll see how it’s done with Enhancv to minimize and decrease the visibility of those gaps behind your resume so it’s less noticeable!)
There are more advantages and disadvantages of using a skills-based format. It leads nicely into the next point where we’ll take a look at it from the bigger picture perspective…
Let’s start with the advantages of using a resume focused on your skills:
Functional resume advantages
- Groups together your soft, hard, and technical skills that are beneficial assets to help you do your job better. When a look at the bigger picture, you’re listing out and describing in detail how your skills are relevant and aligned with what they need. Although you may be lacking in areas linked to experiences, job recruiters can still acknowledge and recognize you as a capable applicant.
- Different from the conventional resumes out there and can help with making you stand out. With the education or work history section towards the end of your resume, it enables employers to thoroughly see the light of your professional expertise first before getting into the other sections later.
- Draws attention away from the areas that the recruiters may want to see. With a functional skills-based resume, it’s easy to get the job recruiter’s eyes away from your weak points. They are more inclined to relatively focus on your positive areas instead.
Now, let’s take a look at the downsides of using a skills-based CV:
Functional Resume Disadvantages
- Different from the standard resume job recruiters are used to seeing. Since it’s out of the recruiter’s expectations and norms, it can be more difficult to read, review, and understand. Despite being different from the rest of the resumes they’re more used to seeing, it can appear unique but it also has its negative effects.
- Potentially leaves a bad impression on your resume. Some recruiters have even stated that they hate the functional resume format. It’s mainly because they’ll assume dishonesty, you’re hiding things, and possibly even trying to BS your way through to get the job. They may even just jump straight into your work experience section to make a decision. You should also realize that not all companies accept functional skills-based resumes.
- Lacks concrete information about your background. It’s not much of a surprise really. To be clear, you’re using the functional resume format because of your shortcomings in employment. Because of this, there’s no clear context behind the skills you’ve listed. It’s not as strong as what you have in your work experience section, and recruiters will have to draw their own conclusions.
Note that these disadvantages don’t necessarily make the functional resume bad. Some of them apply to conventional types of functional resumes, as well. Towards the end of this article, I’ll show you a well-made example from Enhancv that differs from the typical skill-based resume.
Recommended Read – Resume Sections: Everything You Need to Know
Writing a skill set CV can sound daunting. But you’ll see that it’s not that hard to do. Building the right functional resume boils down to:
Identify and Group Your Skills Into Categories
Pick out the 3-5 skills that are your most relevant and strongest. You can choose broad terms, such as communication or project management. But, it’s better if you get very specific and start pinpointing exactly what you excel in. For example, instead of saying communication, you could mention written communication or emotional intelligence.
There are over 200+ skills hiring managers are demanding in the workforce environment. Make sure you carefully take the right ones that are most appropriate for your job and aligned with what you’re skilled in.
Once that’s been identified, follow it up with a short, detailed description. Any metrics, numbers, or data to support your statements, be sure you use them.
Just as importantly, you need to tailor the skills you’re implementing on your functional skills-based resume. It’s another reason why it’s vital you’ve completed the background company and vacancy research to have a full understanding. Only then can you optimize your document at its best and match the expectations or even exceed their standards.
We have a guide for creating a skills section to impress employers – check it out for yourself here!
Include Your Resume Header
As usual, your resume header should be at the top of the document. It’s the first thing employers should see whenever they get their hands on your resume. This section contains your contact details alongside the essential information recruiters need to see.
Write A Striking Resume Summary
We recommend using a professional summary in your functional resume to enable employers to quickly learn and gain transparency of what you can do. This includes insight into your:
- Professional background
- Primary skills
- Knowledge and expertise
- Work experience
(If you haven’t already, check out our complete guide on how to write a resume summary, including the 30+ examples you need to see!)
Include A Brief Work Experience Section
The emphasis on this resume is on your professionalism and corporate skills. Therefore, this section should be kept at a short minimum, yet compelling enough for the recruiter.
Include the job titles of any previous relevant employment experience you’ve had. Plus, have a short description of how your efforts and skills contributed to that company’s success.
Don’t forget to mention those professional environments you’ve been associated with within the past. This includes things like internships and volunteering experiences. It goes a long way with helping you create an eye-catching resume that helps you get the job.
If you’ve been out of it for a while, then it’s okay to skip out on incorporating the dates. However, it’s strongly preferable – try to at least include the year.
There are other sections worth including on your resume. For example, you could include a client testimonials section to prove some of your statements. It’s especially powerful when the person who gives you that testimonial holds a respectable position.
One section that we do suggest you include is your education section. List out your qualifications, whether that’s a bachelor’s degree or a professional diploma. They leave a positive impact on the reader about your formal education, so why not?
These sections should add to the results-driven value that you can work towards to help build their organization. How can you assist them in increasing their chances of hitting their goals and objectives?
There’s no problem with getting creative and unique with your resume. And actually, in most cases, that’s even better.
If you want to stay within the employer’s boundaries while having a convincing resume, try using one of Enhancv’s templates. They’re free, easy to use, and designed to make you properly stand out so you can secure the job.
Edit and Proofread Your Resume
This probably takes up time that you feel is unnecessary and not time-efficient. It costs you an extra headache, stress, and effort to keep on the lookout for the smallest technical details. If that’s the case, consider improving your editing process and proofreading strategies.
Without a doubt, not double-checking your resume before sending is a rookie resume mistake all too common . Once recruiters see a single grammar or spelling mistake, it completely throws them off.
Consider Having A Cover Letter Prepared
Functional skills-based resumes have their own disadvantages, which can turn employers off. As we’ve discussed earlier, they may not make the best impression compared to the other resume formats, you can make up for this by having a tailored cover letter.
Accompany your customized document with a personalized cover letter. Show that you’re a serious candidate willing to learn, develop, and do what it takes to meet their demands.
Maintain the Focus On The Core Value You Can Offer
Don’t forget that the basic principles still apply to the functional resume format.
You should be painting a picture to the reader of the value you’re bringing over to their organization. When push comes to shove, the key takeaway they should have is how you will benefit the team.
Stick to Having A One-Page Resume
A short, specific and concise functional resume will help you increase your chances of getting hired. As long as it’s impactful and there’s a purpose behind each of your sentences, it helps with making your resume far from generic. Learn more about the advantages of one-page resumes in our helpful post on the topic .
BUILD MY RESUME LIKE THIS
In Joanne’s marketing intern resume sample, we can see that it’s slightly different from the traditional functional resume. Although it resembles the reverse-chronological format , it actually minimizes the general setbacks as a whole because it’s more subtle.
If you want to, you can move and rearrange some of the section orders. For example, instead of having the education section coming first, we could exchange it with your strengths or skills section first.
We have over 530+ resume examples for different job positions in different industries – one which is sure to be yours. Find your job title, and take note of those examples which are proven to get you hired!
It’s all about knowing whether or not a functional skills-based resume format is right for you. If you’ve read until this far, you’ll have a good idea by now whether it’s something you need or something you think you need. If it’s only desirable but not needed, then it’s not necessary for you to have one since it’s not as effective as the other formats out there.
Apart from the functional resume, chronological resumes are good to highlight your accomplishments and responsibilities. Recruiters are less likely to challenge your capabilities because of how descriptive the chronological format is.
Another alternative is the combination resume. It’s also known as a hybrid resume, and it lets you combine your relevant skills, work experience, and accomplishments.
With various resume templates out there, it’s hard to define which is best for you, because ultimately, it depends on several factors. But if you want a versatile resume that works for virtually any industry, take a look at the free professional resume templates here.
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- It highlights your skillset over your work experience.
- Use this template when you’re a college graduate without much job experience; when you have applicable skills you can use for your next job; or, when you’ve been unemployed for 1 year and over.
- To write the best functional resume, include a header and a summary section, group your skills carefully, and be as specific as possible. Consider including client testimonials.
- Don’t forget to proofread your resume and prepare a cover letter to maximize your chances of getting interviewed.
One secret ingredient is to inject your own personality and involve other resume sections that will grab recruiters' attention. If you’re looking to get a headstart, try having a go with Enhancv’s resume creator.
What was the one key takeaway you took from this ultimate guide? And are there any other topics you want us to cover in particular? Let me know in the comments below!
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Functional Resume Disadvantages · Recruiters Might Dislike Them · Doesn't Tell the Full Story · Machines Can't Read Them.
A disadvantage of having a functional resume is that it will look as if you lack a steady and stable work history because of possible gaps in
Functional Resumes Looks Different. A major problem with functional resumes is their immediately recognizable format. · Red Flags for Employers.
Your background is varied and doesn't add up to a focused career path · You want to move into a field that is totally different from the one
Disadvantages: This format can accentuate gaps in a candidate's work history. It may not be the best format for career changers or those re-
Disadvantages · If you do not have much work experience, you may struggle to highlight achievements in a separate section. · A functional CV will
The Functional Resume ... This format emphasizes what the writer knows and what they've accomplished, rather than where they've worked. This
Because this layout places the primary focus on your relevant skills, functional resumes allow you to better tailor the content to a specific role you're hoping
Functional resume advantages · Groups together your soft, hard, and technical skills that are beneficial assets to help you do your job better. · Different from
Functional resumes tend to omit company names, job titles, and critical dates, creating confusion or skepticism.