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If you have work history gaps, minimal professional experience, are transitioning to a new career or changed jobs frequently, a functional resume can increase your chances of getting an interview by pivoting the focus from your unrelated experience to your relevant skills and training.

In this article, you’ll learn how to write a highly effective functional resume step-by-step. We also have free examples and templates to give you a head start.

What Is a Functional Resume?

Skills and achievements are the focal points in a functional resume. It prioritizes your strengths and accomplishments and is also known as a skills-based resume. Multiple sections can be dedicated to various skill sets. A brief work history is included, but you can ignore dates and write a list of job titles and employers.

Functional Resume Versus Other Formats

In order to understand which resume format is the best fit for you, let’s take a look at the three main types:

Each serves a different purpose. Which format is most appropriate will depend on your professional profile and the requirements of the position you’re seeking. Keep reading to find out how these formats differ and which one is best for you.

Chronological

A chronological resume concentrates mainly on your work history and the details of the jobs you’ve had. A functional resume emphasizes your skills and accomplishments. Think about whether your skills or your previous positions strengthen your resume. What will the recruiters find most interesting about you? If you’re in any of the following situations, read carefully to decide which of these formats is best for you:

  • Position requirements
    If you have the work experience recruiters are looking for, a chronological format can make that clear. However, if you believe you have the required skills, but they were acquired from training or secondary activities rather than job duties and experience, then a functional resume is better.
  • Changing careers
    A chronological resume is a better way to display progress in your work responsibilities. If you want a job that will keep you in the same career path, this format is great. Conversely, it’s hard to identify a timeline of professional growth in a functional resume. If you want a position in a different field, a functional resume might be the better choice.
  • Starting a career
    Lack of experience is in plain sight in a chronological layout. If you’re a student or have recently graduated, your skills and accomplishments are probably more appealing than your work history. If that’s the case, a functional resume is a good choice.
  • Work gaps
    Since functional resumes don’t focus on employment dates and positions held, gaps in your work history are less obvious.. An experienced recruiter may still notice that extensive work history is missing, so be prepared to address this at your interview.

Combination

The combination format, uses information from the functional and chronological resume formats. The following points will further help you determine which of the three resume formats to choose.

  • Focus
    A combination resume, just like a chronological layout, shows your job positions and their related duties, and the length of time you held each position. However, it highlights expertise developed in each of those positions. Ask yourself how similar your work history is to the job you want. If your skills are more relevant to the job at hand and you have outstanding achievements, a functional resume can emphasize that.
  • Repetition
    In contrast to a functional layout, the combination format can be repetitive when skills are listed in more than one section. This is not a problem with functional formats because they don’t include a detailed work history, in which skills information would likely be repeated.
  • Hierarchy of position
    Recruiters are usually more rigorous when they search for a senior managerial candidate. In this case, a functional resume could work against you since it’s not as detailed as a combination resume.

    Weigh the benefits and challenges your personal circumstances present to select the most suitable format.

Functional Resume Examples

Seeing real functional resume samples can help you understand how they work. Check out the different examples below, and compare them with your own skills and experience. You’ll get a much clearer of what your resume could look like!

Below are some great free examples

Sales-Focused

Graphic Design

Mid-Level Retail

New Teacher

Career Change

Functional Resume Templates

If you decide to go with this format, you’ll probably need resume examples to guide your creation. It can be overwhelming to start from scratch, but don’t worry — we’ve got you covered! Here are several effective and customizable templates to help you write your own functional resume.

Choose between traditional and more creative templates, depending on your career field and the type of company to which you’re applying. You can download them here:

How to Create a Functional Resume

The following sections will show you how to write a compelling functional document.

Brainstorm Before You Start

Brainstorm the skills and accomplishments you bring to the table. At this stage, it doesn’t matter if some of them aren’t relevant to the job description. Do include educational background, training provided by former employers, technical skills, awards and professional affiliations.

To help you recall these items, ask yourself the following questions:

Now, list every skill you possess that’s mentioned in the job ad. Delete the elements in your brainstorm list that have nothing to do with the job position. Your relevant aptitude and achievements are what will remain.

Once you’re done, refine this list by incorporating the exact keywords that are in the job description. For example, if you wrote “communication with clients,” but the job ad says “customer service,” use the latter. You don’t know whether your resume is going to be screened by a an applicant tracking system (ATS) at first. Using the same keywords that are in the job ad will help prevent your resume from getting rejected at this initial stage.

Example

Executive secretary and team leader, working with effectiveness and attention to detail. Expert in efficiency programs and organization of data. In charge of work environment events with outstanding results.

This profile doesn’t give the recruiters the information they need. This person might have the skills they are looking for, but the profile is vague.

Example

Executive secretary with three years of experience managing two employees in a corporate office, keeping an environment of efficiency with attention to detail. Designed and implemented efficiency programs for restructuring procedures, saving $60,000 in labor costs annually. Analyzed incoming data from customers and generated reports to CEO weekly. Organized work environment events that increased employees’ job satisfaction by 12 percent in 2016.

Both profiles are about the same person, but the second one will be much more effective in grabbing the recruiter’s attention. The biggest difference is the presence of objective facts and quantifiable information in the second example.

When you list your accomplishments in this way, the recruiter can picture you doing the same for their company.

Skills Fall Into One of Three Categories:

Keep these categories in mind to help you group your skills. List the categories in order of relevance to the position you are applying for, from the most important to the least.

Tip

Use past-tense action-oriented verbs to describe the achievements you have gained and the projects you have worked on. Only include those that are relevant to the position you are applying for, and quantify them.

An efficient way to express your achievements using compelling words is to use one of these formulas: Your action + Measured result, or Result + Why it was needed + Action. For example, “Implemented 10 training programs of soft skills on customer service staff, which resulted in a 30 percent improvement on customer satisfaction surveys.”

List your qualifications, and support each of them with achievements in bullet points. Use up to three achievements for each category. This will keep it brief and easy to read.

Using a Resume Builder

The templates and samples above will help you to build your functional resume. If you want to take your document to the next level, a resume builder is a great tool. We partner with award-winning My Perfect Resume, which provides premium resume templates with customizable options and a built-in editor.

As you use this tool, remember that a functional resume aims to highlight your skills and achievements, while work experience is de-emphasized. So, choose a template that gives more space for skills than employment history.

You can also use the pre-built phrases in our resume builder to help boost your document's effectiveness. Adapt the text by using relevant keywords that describe your outstanding achievements and abilities, and that reflect the skills and competencies you have acquired in your previous jobs or training.

Even without extensive details about your work history, a functional resume still tells your story through your skills and achievements. It should show exactly what you can do for your new employer.

Here Are The Key Points For Creating a Great Functional Resume:

Follow these recommendations to help your resume stand out from the competition. You might juggle multiple job offers soon!