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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.
There are some crucial components shared by functional resumes that attract recruiters’ attention. Learn how to include them in your resume to make it more appealing:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
This sample functional resume from the University of Kentucky puts the focus on the summary of qualifications and relevant skills before listing work history and education. This strategy is effective for people who know the job well enough to understand the kinds of skills employers are looking for and can afford to focus on that while sublimating their education and work history.
In this example, the job seeker has years of relevant experience both as an entrepreneur and as a coordinator for large companies. The functional format is also the right strategy for anyone with employment history gaps or whose qualifications aren’t derived in a traditional way.
This skill-based resume, created by Ohlone College, focuses on qualifications, accomplishments and experience. Work history is listed plainly so as not to draw attention to a two-year work-history gap, and education is listed last and in a way that will not bring attention to the lack of a bachelor’s degree. This template is for people with more experience and knowledge in a field than a typical entry-level job seeker, but whose work history and education are questionable.
In this example, the applicant’s list of qualifications, skills and experience showcase his knowledge with graphic design, while the downplayed presentation of work experience and education neither hide nor call attention to weak areas. This template shows how well functional resumes highlight qualifications without hiding problems.
This retail-focused resume from Portland Community College targets the job she’s applying for by listing important, relevant experience she’s had in customer service. By listing experience had with merchandising techniques, the job seeker shows that she understands that part of increasing sales means working on a sales floor. This also allows her to show both her familiarity with the business as well as the responsibilities she’s been given in previous positions.
This example shows an applicant for a position as a customer service representative who has a limited education, and a work history that includes a relatively large gap. The functional format allows her to highlight strengths and downplay weaknesses.
This professional resume from Palomar College uses a straightforward format to accomplish the goal of leading a potential employer through the applicant’s most important qualifications. Skills are listed first both because in a position such as childcare they’re important, but also because education and employment history isn’t stellar. The listed relevant experiences are important for a nursery school teacher to have, but again don’t go beyond basic expectations.
In this example, the applicant is expecting to earn a bachelor’s degree soon and is looking to advance her career. Without getting bogged down in timeline and work history gaps, this document will help job seekers focus on the positives they can bring to a new employer.
This functional resume template created by Tidewater Community College highlights the advantage of using a functional format to move from one field to another. By listing personal attributes and skills first, followed by a summary of professional qualifications, the applicant is able to show the range of their abilities.
In this military-to-civilian example, a former sergeant with the National Guard is attempting the sometimes tough transition from the military to the private sector. This template can work equally well for anyone hoping to make a career change or those who have a varied, but valuable, skill set.
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:
The following sections will show you how to write a compelling functional document.
A functional resume should always contain the following components:
In this format, place the relevant skills section before work history. This is what differentiates a functional resume format from a chronological format. At the end of the resume, you can add a brief section of extra competencies or projects that, while not completely relevant to the position, may make your resume even stronger. For example, you can include languages, professional affiliations, IT experience (for a non-IT position), etc.
Don’t include hobbies, as it’s outdated and doesn’t boost your professional image. See our advice below for effective writing advice.
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.
This resume section is simple and straightforward. Just list your complete name, city and state, email and phone number. Use a larger font size and/or different alignment to make your name stand out.
Write “Willing to relocate” if the position is in another city because sometimes a recruiter will discard your resume if they feel you live too far away to commute.
Provide a mobile number for hiring managers to easily contact you. Include a professional email address that includes your first and last names, but no nicknames.
You can include your professional website, online portfolio and LinkedIn profile as well.
In your summary statement, you should make your most relevant skills and experiences stand out immediately to hiring managers. It should effectively summarize your previous experience and relevant qualifications in around 50 words, and entice hiring managers to read the rest of your resume.
Start with your degree or job title, and the number of years you’ve been in the workforce. Continue listing your relevant expertise, and quantify this experience with tangible results. You can mention awards, recognition or accomplishments.
Let’s compare two professional profiles. Here is an ineffective example of an executive secretary’s profile.
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.
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.
Remember your proficiency and accomplishments you brainstormed before beginning your resume? You will now classify them in this section.
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.
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.
Your work history should be concise in a functional resume format. Include a list of company names and job titles in chronological order. Dates for each position are optional.
In a functional resume, the recruiters will want to know more about you by the time they reach this part of the document. Your resume may help you get your foot in the door, but a recruiter will probably ask you more questions about your work experience if you are fortunate enough to receive an interview.
If you have limited work experience, you can add internships, volunteer work and personal projects as well.
Your educational background should also be brief and relevant. Provide the name and location of your university, add your major and the type of degree obtained. You can include your GPA within five years of graduating and if it is 3.5 or above.
Mention important seminars, courses or other training if you feel it will boost or validate a skill.
It’s common practice to include the year of graduation, but is not mandatory. Minimize the risks of encountering ageism by omitting the year.
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.
Follow these recommendations to help your resume stand out from the competition. You might juggle multiple job offers soon!