Functional Resume: Examples And Tips

by Chris Kolmar
Get The Job, Guides, Resume - 3 weeks ago

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There are a few different ways to write your resume when applying for a job. Most commonly, you will see resumes written in reverse-chronological order, or listing their work history from most recent to oldest.

But this is only one way to highlight your experience on a resume.

There are a few other options, including a functional resume or combination resume that you can use.

Sometimes the chronological resume or combination resume doesn’t quite cut it. Depending on your current professional situation and the circumstances of your current job search, a functional resume may benefit you best.

Below are the key things you should understand about a functional resume to decide if it’s the best fit for you.

What is a Functional Resume?

Unlike a traditional resume, the functional resume does not highlight your work history in chronological order. The functional resume is unique because it focuses on your developed skills and abilities that may fit the requirements of the job application. This gives you the ability to showcase your skills. You might start with your qualifications and support them by then listing your skills and examples of those abilities in practice.

A functional resume is typically used by job seekers who are looking to switch career paths or have gaps in their work history. The functional resume works so that the recruiter or hiring manager’s focus is not on work experience with explanations of each job, but rather to the skills you can actually bring to the table for the job you are applying for.

The functional resume can be used regardless of how long you’ve been in the workforce, what type of job titles you’ve held, or the different industries in which you have worked. This layout helps applicants with limited experience or with non-traditional career paths get noticed for the jobs they want.

The other types of resumes you can choose from are the reverse chronological, mentioned above, or a combination resume. The combination resume mixes chronological and functional resumes together, focusing first on skills and abilities, followed by chronological experience.

How to Write a Functional Resume

Once you decide on the functional resume format, you must decide how best to design your resume layout. However, similar to the chronological layout, every resume will look unique, but still contain the same basic sections to articulate your experience in the best way possible.

In order to put forward the best resume possible, you should consider including the following:

  1. Open with a concise resume summary. Consider including a resume summary at the beginning of your resume. A resume summary should be a brief statement highlighting your most relevant qualifications.

    This can be an optional step but can be a nice addition to give your hiring manager or recruiter a better idea of who you are. In this section, you can include your most relevant experience, skills, and career goals.

  2. Highlight your contact information. Every resume should include your contact information, regardless of the layout you use. Your contact information should be easily identifiable and, most importantly, checked to make sure it’s correct. Your contact information should include your full name, phone number, email address, mailing address, or any additional information you deem relevant.

  3. Organize skills and qualifications by theme. Depending on the amount of work experience you have, you may have different abilities in different industries or types of work. Typically, it’s best to present these in buckets or themes. For example, you may want to group your skills under “Customer Service Experience” or “Retail Experience.”

    When you group your abilities together, it makes it easier for the reader. Your potential employer can easily see if you have the right transferable skills for the job you’re applying for, even if your actual work history isn’t directly applicable.

  4. Use keywords directly from the job description. This is a tip that can be used on any resume, regardless of layout. Scan the job description you are applying for and pull out a few keywords or phrases that relate directly to the job. Use them as a jumping-off point when you begin compiling your resume.

    Consider using keywords as the titles for your headings or scatter them within the bulleted lists you create describing your abilities in further detail. This will stand out to the hiring manager or recruiter when they read your resume.

  5. Mention all relevant projects and accomplishments that relate to the job. Be sure to include any personal or professional projects or assignments you have worked on that might be relevant to the job at hand. Successful projects can demonstrate a number of things, including your success in project management, working in a team environment, and completing tasks that are assigned to you in a timely manner.

  6. Include your employment history. This will go at the end of this resume, but it’s still important to include your full work history, despite any career changes or work gaps. However, because this is at the end of your resume, it will give less emphasis on any of the aforementioned things you may be worried about.

    List the organizations and your key contributions. It is also possible to list these things and leave off specific dates, just including a year instead.

  7. List your education history. Include this only if your education is relevant for the job you are applying for. Include the school, area of study, and any relevant skills or achievements you may have obtained during your time there. If it’s not relevant to the job, feel free to leave it off entirely.

Functional Resume vs. Traditional Resumes

The traditional resume is also known as a chronological resume, and is the resume you likely think of when you hear the term “traditional resume.”

The chronological resume works in many instances, emphasizing work history as its focal point. It includes a list of your work experiences. For every job, there are associated start and end dates, your job title or titles as well as an explanation of what you accomplished, or learned, at each position. Traditional resumes list work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position and working backward.

This format is beneficial if you have had a steady job in the same industry. Ideally, it will highlight the progression of your professional work in a positive light. However, not everyone has followed a traditional career path.

If you have held jobs in multiple industries with gaps for any given reason, the chronological format may prove to work against you.

When to Use a Functional Resume

So, when do we use a functional resume? This layout is ideal if you do not have a ton of work experience related to the job you are applying for. This is also a great format for those who are in the midst of a career change or those with gaps in employment. The functional resume is also called “skills-based format” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Due to it not being organized with your employment upfront, this format can work perfectly for those just entering the workforce for the first time or after a period of time away. This could apply to recent graduates, stay-at-home parents entering the workforce, or caregivers.

Additionally, if you are chasing a career change, the functional resume can work in your favor as well. This layout gives you the change to articulate how certain skills in one industry can transfer in an ideal way to the new job and career you are applying for.

Functional Resume Example

The functional resume will look different for everyone. As mentioned above, you do not need to include a resume summary statement if you so choose, nor do you need to specify exact dates of employment or education, if it is not relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Angela Puglisi

345 State Street, Little Rock, AK | 235-123-6454 |


Retail representative with over four years of experience in customer service, team management, and marketing initiatives. Passionate about providing exceptional customer experiences and selling value-add products to customers in need.

Area of Experience

Retail sales, retail marketing, team training, employee training, team management, payroll management, complaint resolution, negotiations, fluency in Spanish


Retail Marketing
Created a basic marketing plan for our grocery store products on the cash register shelves. Developed testing between four products to see which did best under which marketing copy. Gathered data to improve sales at the register, with a 28% increase in those product sales.

Team Training
Developed cash register training across the team of new employees and established benchmarks for them to hit across 30, 60, 90 day periods.

Maintain the point-person role for all negotiations for new vendors. This included contract negotiation and budget negotiation. Developed and maintained relationships with all vendors across my time with this grocer.


Shop Rite
Customer service manager and training lead: Managed customer inquiries and frustrations. Led the training program for all new employees who joined the team full-time. Helped implement new processes as well as new marketing initiatives.


The University of Arkansas
Bachelor of Arts in English

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