- Resume Types
There are a few different ways to write your resume. Most commonly, you’ll see resumes written in reverse-chronological order, where work history is listed from most recent to oldest.
Sometimes the chronological 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.
A functional resume focuses on your skills and achievements rather than your work experience.
A functional resume can be used by those who have extensive qualifications or for those with little relevant professional experience.
A functional resume should organize skills and qualifications by theme.
Focus on accomplishments and quantifiable results in your functional resume.
A functional resume differs from a chronological resume in its focus.
What Is a Functional Resume?
Unlike a traditional resume, a functional resume does not highlight your work history in chronological order. A functional resume is unique because it focuses on your developed skills and abilities that fit the requirements of the job application.
This gives you the ability to emphasize your skills over your experience. 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 on 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 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.
When to 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 chance to articulate how certain skills in one industry can transfer in an ideal way to the new job and career you are applying for.
How to Write a Functional Resume
Once you decide on the functional resume format, it’s time to design your resume layout. While 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:
Open with a concise resume summary. Include 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. This is especially important in a functional resume, because it gives you yet another chance to showcase your skill set from the get-go.
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.
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.
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 skill 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.
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 generating great results.
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.
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 Tips
If you do decide that a functional resume is the right choice for you, be sure to keep these tips in mind:
Focus on accomplishments, not duties. Hiring managers and recruiters are rarely impressed by a candidate’s day-to-day job responsibilities. Worse than that, it doesn’t really help them make a decision any more than just writing your job title or skills.
Instead, think of examples of when you’ve leveraged the skills you’re touting to great success. For example, if you write “Customer Service” as a skill, provide an example or two of improving your previous employer’s customer service rating.
Use numbers. Hiring managers and recruiters love numbers because they translate well with the minimal context required. If you write that you saved the company 10% on material costs, the recruiter instantly appreciates the value of that achievement.
Even using numbers to describe less impressive things helps paint a fuller picture of you as a candidate. For instance, if you write “led a weekly meeting for 12 members from both product and marketing teams,” the hiring manager now understands the frequency and scale of your last job.
Tailor your resume. Resumes these days are typically parsed by an applicant tracking system before they ever reach a human reader. With that in mind, it won’t due to send the same resume to each and every company.
Instead, read the job description carefully and note the keywords. Then, look for ways to honestly and naturally incorporate that same language into your resume.
Keep your resume to one page. There’s a good chance that you’re opting for a functional resume because you lack the experience required for the job. That’s okay, but that means that your resume should never exceed one page — otherwise, you’d have plenty of content without needing to resort to a functional resume in the first place.
Hiring managers and recruiters expect concise, to-the-point resumes that only discuss relevant skills and experiences. Don’t waste their time with unnecessary fluff.
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.
345 State Street, Little Rock, AK | 235-123-6454 | email@example.com
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
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.
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.
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
Should I Use a Functional Resume?
In the vast majority of cases, no, you should not use a functional resume format. The main benefit of a skills-based resume which we’ve been touting is that it allows you to cover up gaps in employment or a lack of industry experience. Recruiters and hiring managers to know this better than anyone, so when they see a functional resume format, they’re immediately suspicious.
Employers hire for fit, and that usually means taking on employees who have had relevant experience that naturally suits them for the open position. They assume that someone with that experience will also have the requisite skills to succeed in that role, which is why a brief skills section in a chronological resume suffices to confirm that belief.
Plus, applicant tracking systems place heavy emphasis on years of experience, and when you try to obfuscate this information, it could end up with your resume being tossed about before reaching a human reader. Whatever format you choose, always make sure that your resume is ATS-friendly.
To reiterate, the folks who may consider a functional resume include:
Those with employment gaps. Hide a few months or even years outside of the professional world by focusing on skills rather than work history. Like we’ve said though, recruiters are wise to this. Instead, try to pepper in volunteer experience into your work history, to avoid any substantial gaps of activity.
Career changers. Some skills are relevant across fields and industries — a functional resume serves to emphasize that you have the right stuff, even if you haven’t applied it in the way the employer hopes a candidate has.
Those with little or very varied experience. Whether you lack much work history or the history you do have is a mess of different occupations, a functional resume can help make more sense of your professional life.
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 and 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.
The traditional resume format is also easily scannable by applicant tracking systems, which parse application documents for relevant qualifications before a hiring manager even sees them.
If you have held jobs in multiple industries with employment gaps for any given reason, the chronological format may work against you.
Are Functional Resumes Bad?
A functional resume is not bad, however it does have its drawbacks.
Functional resumes are good for people who either have extensive qualifications and want to focus on their most important skills, or conversely, for people who lack experience and need to highlight their transferable skills.
Unfortunately many applicant tracking software (ATS) systems and parsing methods do not effectively pick up the information found in the resume. This means your resume can get lost in the process if you are not careful. To avoid this problem, the best solution would be to ensure your resume is read by an actual person.
Still, some recruiters and hiring managers still do not like the functional resume because the format is different than what they are used to, which can slow them down.
If you are deciding to use a functional resume, consider these drawbacks. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use one, but you want to use it properly.
- Resume Types