Skills-Based Resume (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Jan. 11, 2021
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It can be challenging for recent graduates and professionals making a career change to fill out a full resume, as they lack a job history relevant to their new industry.

In these cases, a skills-based resume is the perfect tool to communicate to potential employers the abilities and value you’re able to provide, despite your lack of direct experience.

In this article, we’ll discuss exactly what a skills-based resume is and when to use one. We’ll also provide you with a sample template and example to help you create your own.

What Is a Skills-based Resume?

Skills-based resumes, also called functional resumes, are a type of resume that focuses on a candidate’s general skills rather than their work history.

They differ from traditional resumes in two significant ways:

  • Skills section. Traditional resumes include a professional experience section that lists several of the applicant’s prior positions relevant to the target job.

    Under each position, a candidate typically bullet points their achievements and duties at that company.

    This entire professional experience section is scraped in a skills-based resume.

    Instead of listing the previous jobs they’ve held, an applicant would include major skills they possess that could provide value for the employer.

    These could be specific, technical skills such as the candidate’s ability to use Microsoft applications or weld machinery.

    Job type you want
    Full Time
    Part Time
    Internship
    Temporary

    They could also be more general skills, such as one’s ability to lead teams or solve problems analytically.

    They could even be soft skills, such as your charisma or energy level.

    In either case, each stated skill should list several bullet points that cite achievements and experiences to prove the applicant’s fluency.

    These achievements could be from an unrelated job, college class, or any other notable moment from the past.

  • Qualifications summary. The qualifications summary is a short, bulleted list that contains three to five of the most impressive accomplishments you can think of.

    To win a position over candidates with more extensive job experience, you’re going to need to personalize and imprint yourself in the hiring manager’s mind.

    While it’s important to pick achievements that are relevant for the job, it’s more crucial that they’re eye-catching and clue readers into what makes you uniquely you.

    A relevant but generic achievement might be impressive, but it won’t distinguish you from more experienced professionals.

When to Use a Skills-Based Resume

Without relevant job-experience that makes you competitive in your target field, there’s little sense in forcing a weak, half-empty traditional resume.

A skills-based resume may better suit your needs if any of the following applies to you:

  • Recent graduate. Traditional resumes are great if you already have multiple internships or previous jobs under your belt.

    Otherwise, consider a skills-based resume. It’ll allow you to display the traits employers are looking for by citing non-work experience, such as research or clubs.

  • Job gaps. Job gaps longer than a few months are a serious red flag in the eyes of many recruiters.

    If you have an impressive job history and a reasonable explanation for your resume’s gap period to give during an interview, this shouldn’t pose an issue.

    If you lack an explanation and have been out of the workforce for an exceptionally long time, such as six months to over a year, then a skills-based resume may be a better fit.

  • Multiple similar jobs. Even if you’ve worked several similar jobs back-to-back, it’s rare that you won’t have additional worthwhile achievements and experiences to cite on your resume.

    However, if you don’t, then a skills-based resume might be an excellent tool to better communicate to recruiters what value you can bring to the position.

  • Career switch. You should consider a skills-based resume if almost none of your current work experience is relevant for your target field.

    A former electrician switching to a field technician position should submit a traditional resume, as the two roles share many similarities.

    However, a former janitor applying to an engineering position may want to consider a skills-based resume.

  • History of job-hopping. This greatly depends on the norms within your industry.

    Retail and fast-food jobs typically have high turnover rates, so a history of job-hopping shouldn’t work against you.

    However, hiring managers may automatically dismiss a software engineer candidate that quit multiple jobs after only a few months.

    Many contract workers who work temp jobs as a career find greater success with a skills-based resume than a traditional one.

Hybrid Resume

There’s no rule that your resume must either be fully skills-based or traditional in format.

You should adapt your resume to suit your particular situation and job history.

For example, consider a new graduate or career-switching professional who’s only worked one previous job in the industry.

They could combine a short professional experience section on their resume with a skills-based section to compensate for their limited job history.

Skills-Based Resume Writing Tips

Before we provide you with a sample skills-based resume template and example, note the following critical resume-writing guidelines.

These rules should be followed, no matter what type of resume you’re writing:

  • Achievements should include results. When citing your achievements, don’t simply say, “I did X.”

    Quantify the actual value was generated through your achievements by using numbers.

    “I did X, which saved the company $Y” and “I did X, which improved the process of Y by 23%” are much stronger bullet points.

  • Informative but concise. It’s recommended that professionals just starting their careers create resumes that are no longer than a page.

    If you’re writing a skills-based resume, then this probably applies to you.

  • Tailor your resume. Take note of the key duties and skill requirements given in the job listing so that you can customize your skills-based resume.

    Your competition will likely include candidates with actual relevant job experience, so it’s absolutely critical that every skill and achievement you cite directly targets an essential element of the job description.

Skills-Based Resume Template

For a skills-based resume, some career advisors recommend not adding bulleted items to the previous jobs listed in your professional experience section. This is to save space and emphasize the skills section.

However, this advice only applies if your previous jobs are entirely unrelated to your target job.

Even if your previous roles are only tangentially related, we recommend you mention your duties as long as your resume isn’t already too long.

Maybe your skills section cites impressive achievements you’ve made at school and volunteer jobs, but hiring managers would still like to see how you’ve generated value for an actual company.

[Full name]

[Phone number]

[Email address]

[Your Address]

Qualifications summary

  • [Top relevant achievement #1]

  • [Top relevant achievement #2]

  • [Top relevant achievement #3]

Relevant skills

[Relevant skill #1]

  • Bullet-point three results-based achievements that prove your competence and ability to generate value.

[Relevant skill #2]

  • Bullet-point three results-based achievements that prove your competence and ability to generate value.

[Relevant skill #3]

  • Bullet-point three results-based achievements that prove your competence and ability to generate value.

Professional experience

[Company name #1, city, state]
[Position title]
[Employment start date to end date (optional)]

[Company name #2, city, state]
[Position title]
[Employment start date to end date (optional)]

Education

[School name, city, state]
[Degree type and major, graduation date]
[GPA (optional)]

Additional relevant sections

[Other relevant sections, such as volunteer experience, certifications, or awards]

Skills-Based Resume Example

Our skills-based resume example will be for a hypothetical retail store manager position that lists the following key duties and skills:

  • Meet or exceed store sales.

  • Adhere to annual expense budgets.

  • Provide leadership and coordination of staff.

Note how each bulleted item in the example qualifications summary addresses one of the above essential requirements.

The skills section is also organized to target the key abilities listed in the job posting.

Without further ado, here is the skills-based resume example:

Adam Schneider

(888) 222-4545

aSchneider@gmail.com

4848 Acorn Ct, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 28282

Qualifications summary

  • Reduced budget overspending by 23% across four different organizations.

  • Regularly exceeded monthly sales quotas by a minimum of 19%.

  • Trained and led two different college clubs to win national championships.

Relevant skills

Leadership

  • Organized a team of eight people at a local food bank to serve hundreds of people efficiently.

  • Voted most helpful team member at three different jobs.

  • Coached five new members of the college robotics club, leading to the team winning nationals.

Budget management

  • Managed all aspects of financial operations at the local food bank for three years.

  • Created monthly budget summary reports that reduced overspending and waste by 17%.

  • Provided budget guidance to the local church’s event planning team that reduced overspending by 9%.

Sales

  • Created pleasant merchandise displays that led to a 14% increase in monthly sales.

  • Achieved the top-ranked sales representative position for three months in a row.

  • Received a higher customer satisfaction rating than all previous sales representatives.

Professional experience

Freedom Food Bank, Bloomington, IN
Team manager
May 28, 2019 – October 29, 2020

Northwest Marketing, Bloomington, IN
Sales representative
July 12, 2017 – June 9, 2018

Education

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science, May 2019
GPA: 3.9

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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