The functional resume focuses on presenting your skillset, and is ideal for job seekers without much work history, or are changing career fields. Below are our tips on how to best write in this resume format, as well as expert examples of resumes you can use to create your own.
How to Write the Most Important 4 Sections
The Summary, Skills, Education and Work History sections are the key components of a functional resume. Here’s how you should write them:
Select resume section:
Think of your summary as a statement of your career goals. Mention an important skill or two that you can bring to future positions. Check with the job description for particular skills you can mention.
Focus on listing both hard skills (such as technical training or certifications) as well as soft skills (such as your ability to lead or work in a team environment). If you have numerous skills, organize them by categories.
Feature any relevant information, such as internships, volunteer, charitable or non-profit experience. This can help showcase the professional history you do have.
Include any degrees, trainings, and certifications you’ve completed, as well as the institutions and dates of completion. Also mention particular awards and recognitions you have received.
Top 5 Tips
It’s now time to shape your resume, using your strongest skills as your base. Follow these tips to write a job-winning document that a recruiter will love.
Present your information completely and accurately.
It may be tempting to embellish your experiences or exaggerate skills, especially if you don’t have much work experience to fall back on, but this is never a good idea. You should present all information as accurately and completely as possible.
Tailor your summary and skills to fit what an employer is looking for.
Thoroughly reading the job description is vital. Pick keywords from the description that math your abilities, and include them in your summary and skills sections. Be sure to describe your skills in a way that reflects what you can bring to the position. This will also help your resume get through applicant tracking systems (ATS) that will scan your resume for these specific qualifications.
Also, keep in mind that resumes for different employers should emphasize the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the position. To get started, and create different versions of your resume for different jobs, use our free Resume Builder.
Focus on relevant achievements and qualifications related to the job you’re applying for.
Just as you want your skills section and objective to reflect the job posting, you want the achievements and qualifications you describe to be relevant to the position you seek. For each job you are applying to, revise your skills and summary to fit the job description. Keep in mind that you want to be accurate and truthful in portraying your talents, as we mentioned in tip #1. Only feature skills that you can prove.
Use keywords that match the job description and title.
Choosing the right keywords is one of the most important, and sometimes difficult, parts of writing a resume. Luckily, our free Resume Builder supplies a selection of industry-specific phrases and keywords to help you write this section in minutes.
Mention any relevant employment history in the Work History section, even if you don’t have much experience.
Beginning professionals often wonder how to write a resume with limited work history. Of course, the functional resume’s emphasis on skills makes this easier, but you should still include a brief overview of any professional experience that may be relevant to the job. This section can also include internships, volunteer jobs, or any extracurricular activities that have a bearing on what the job requires.
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Functional Resume Samples by Experience
Reviewing our best resume examples below will help you craft a functional resume that gives recruiters an immediate idea of why you’re the best candidate.
While this candidate has no previous administrative assistant experience, she focuses on relevant and important skills, such as inventory management, interpersonal communication, and teamwork. She correctly opens by stressing her abilities in her summary, rather than drawing attention to her work history.
As the job seeker in this example lacks extensive experience, his resume highlights skills and education before work experience. He draws attention to the skills he learned on an internship, demonstrating that he’s ready to build his career on a foundation of job-relevant skills.
Director of Sales
Although this job seeker is an experienced director with relevant experience, he chooses to highlight his skills first, giving the recruiter an immediate idea of how he can be an asset to a company. This resume is effective because he sells his skills and abilities with confidence, proving that he is an expert.
Recommended Samples by Job Title
These functional resume examples cover a variety of industries — use them to create your own professional resume in minutes.
Often, artists have diverse backgrounds, so one's skills are most important when it comes to a graphic designer resume. This example highlights abilities first, as talent and proficiency often weigh more than experience.
IT Project Manager
In the IT industry, experience matters, but so does knowledge and skill sets. The job seeker in this example focuses on the specialized knowledge his profession requires. For instance, he features his proficiency in TCP/IP protocols and in System Development Life Cycle skills.
The job seeker in this medical assistant resume has very little experience. Instead of calling attention to it, the job seeker places her skills and talents first, and shows recruiters that she has the knowledge to work as a medical assistant.
Experience in a school setting doesn’t necessarily tell an employer how well you thrive in that environment. This resume, therefore, prioritizes skills over work experience. The job seeker understands that to be a preschool teacher, she has to prove that she’s empathetic and patient, and has classroom management skills.
To be a receptionist, you don’t necessarily have to have a long work history. While this resume includes experience, it leads with what the recruiter wants to see — skills. This resume exemplifies how a job seeker can tailor a resume to particular skills, based on the job description.
This job candidate has experience in translation and lists it, but decides to highlight her skills first. She leads with her language fluency and cultural understanding. In an effective functional resume, skills should correlate with the job description.
Functional Resume FAQ
What is a functional resume format?A functional resume brings your skills and expertise front and center. This contrasts with a chronological resume, which emphasizes your work history. If you lack experience or are changing careers, the functional resume format is a good choice as it accentuates the specific skills you can bring to a job, rather than your job history.
Who should use a functional resume?
If you have gaps in your work history, plan to transition into a new career field, or are a first-time job seeker, the functional resume is an effective format because it highlights your transferable skills.
For example, an administrative assistant who specializes in customer service skills can position himself for a sales position by emphasizing those qualities in a functional resume, rather than his lack of job experience in the sales industry. Candidates with an extensive job history in the same career field should consider a chronological format, which places more significance on a robust work experience section.
How do I write a functional resume with no experience?
Focus on your skills and your objectives. Using the employer’s job description as a guide, express what kind of position you want in your summary, and then feature relevant skills in your skills section, paying particularly close attention to technical abilities the job requires.
If you have specific academic or extracurricular achievements that relate to the job, make sure to include them in your education section, or create an “awards and honors” section to feature them if needed. Internships are also valuable to mention, as they prove you know how to handle yourself in a work environment.
What will employers look for in my resume?
Above everything else, employers want candidates who can prove they are qualified for the job — that means stressing the skills that will make a positive impact on the position you are seeking. As mentioned above, research the job position and pick out keywords that apply to you, and include them in your resume.
You should also write a strong summary statement that shows you understand the job, and expresses your confidence in being able to perform it. Your summary can be reiterated and expanded upon in your cover letter.
Which resume can be used to cover employment gaps?A functional resume is a great choice, as it underscores the important skills you can bring to a job, rather than the experience (or lack thereof) you have with the industry. Another option you can look into is the combination resume, which features both your work experience and skills — this format is useful if you’ve performed work that relates to the new job, even if it’s not extensive.