A functional resume is a resume format that emphasizes skills and qualifications instead of work history. This format is best for career changers, candidates with long employment gaps and anyone who lacks workplace experience.
In this article, we cover everything you need to know about functional resume formats, including:
- Defining the functional resume.
- Who is best served by this format?
- Templates and examples.
- How to write each section.
- Frequently asked questions.
Do you need your resume in a crunch? Skip the guide to go directly into our Resume Builder. There are plenty of functional resume options, and you’ll be finished in 15 minutes.
What is a functional resume?
The functional resume, also called the skills-based resume, is an alternative resume format that showcases skills rather than work experience.
Most job seekers are best served by a traditional format, like the chronological resume, which puts previous jobs front and center. Especially considering that recruiters can be skeptical of resumes that downplay professional experience.
But there are scenarios in which the functional format is the best option.
Before we explain who should use the format, check out how this functional resume example is laid out:
If you’re wondering whether the functional resume is right for you, keep reading.
Who should use a functional resume format?
You’re probably wondering, chronological vs functional resume, which should I choose?
Recruiters don’t like functional resumes, so most people should use a chronological or combination format. The chronological resume format focuses on your work history, while the combination resume format tries to balance experience with skills.
But, what if you don’t have professional experience? That’s where the functional resume comes into play.
You should use the functional resume format in your next job application if:
- You have long gaps in your employment. Anyone who has taken extended career breaks may benefit from focusing on skills rather than job history.
- You are changing careers. When switching career fields entirely, put your transferable skills front and center with a functional resume.
- You recently graduated and have no experience. Without professional experience, you have no choice but to put the spotlight on your skills.
Still not sure if the functional resume is right for you?
Consider these pros and cons:
- Its summary, qualifications and accomplishment sections provide ample opportunities to add keywords that appeal to applicant tracking system (ATS) software, which categorizes and parses resumes for relevance.
- It puts pertinent qualifications upfront so hiring managers can see them easily.
- It can hide employment gaps or short jobs while emphasizing your capabilities.
- It can help you stand out from other job applicants because most don’t use this format.
- They can be a bit challenging to write. Since you have to show your value through your skills and achievements instead of through your direct work history, you have to think about which skills best describe your abilities.
- Your achievements need to shine right alongside your skills, which requires quantifiable metrics.
- Hiring managers get resumes in this format less often, so it might be difficult for them to review quickly.
- Not all ATS software is set up to scan a functional resume, so it’s crucial to be diligent about using keywords from the job description.
Now, let’s take a look at some sample functional resumes.
Functional resume examples + template
Now that you know the functional resume’s definition and who should use the format, it’s time to focus on examples of functional resumes and get to filling out your resume with an easy-to-download functional resume template.
Free downloadable functional resume template
So you’ve decided you’re the type of job candidate who needs a functional resume. The next step is to make it look good.
We have many designs and layouts to choose from. Here’s a functional resume sample you can download for free in Word and fill it in with your personal information:
If that design doesn’t suit your fancy, that’s okay! Sample functional resumes in our massive resume template library to find one that does.
Functional resume examples
Once you’ve properly formatted your resume, it’s time to start writing. But where to begin?
Well, don’t let the blank page bring you down. You’ll find many samples of functional resumes among our resume examples to use as a source of inspiration. The more resumes you review, the more ideas you’ll gather for writing your own.
Use this functional resume example for starters:
If you just need an outline, here’s a sample functional resume to copy and paste:
Hospitable restaurant manager versed in overseeing staff and handling daily cash deposits. Generates new business through the creative use of SEO and social media. Diligent and fully invested in exhibiting steadfast leadership in high-pressure situations to improve team strength.
- Search engine optimization
- Social media tools (TweetDeck and Hootsuite)
- Effective written and verbal communication
- Adobe Creative Suite
- Customer service best practices
- Skilled at monitoring food preparation for quality assurance, receiving top scores in the district.
- Well-versed in the latest food safety and health code rules and regulations.
- Knowledgeable in supply ordering and timing shipments so there's never a shortage or gap in service.
- Helped hire five new employees during a labor shortage by promoting a signing bonus on social media.
- Expertise in training and onboarding new employees with 100% success rate and better than average retention.
- Always makes shift schedules in collaboration with the team, resulting in 20% increase in employee satisfaction surveys.
- Capable of front- and back-of-house management and overseeing a team of six employees.
- Frequently offers mentorship to new employees to encourage career growth.
- Encourages employees to perform their best work by encouraging teamwork and recognizing their efforts daily.
Saint John, IN | Feb 2020 - Current
Highland, IN | June 2018 - Jan 2020
High School Diploma
Munster High School
Munster, IN | May 2021
Honor Roll 2020–2021
How to Write a Functional Resume [+ Tips for Every Section]
While having a visually appealing resume is nice, your candidacy will sink or swim based on your content. Here is some advice for each section of your functional resume.
Tips for writing the header:
- Include your portfolio or professional website if you have one.
- Include social media handles if they are relevant to your career.
- Triple-check the spelling of your name, email address and phone number (this mistake is more common than you’d think!).
Tips for writing the professional summary or resume objective:
- Keep your summary or objective statement brief (two to three sentences).
- Use action verbs and power words.
- Connect your abilities to the employer’s needs.
- Avoid overused phrases such as “works well independently” or “good communicator.”
Tips for writing the skills section:
- Skills are the heart of a functional resume, so don’t hold back.
- Consider breaking your skills into distinct categories to delve deep into them.
- Use the exact words from the job description to make it past the company’s applicant tracking system (ATS).
Tips for writing the work experience section:
- Only include work that’s relevant to your target job.
- Add bullet points if you have specific achievements you’d like to highlight.
- Use quantifiable metrics whenever possible, to show the results of your efforts.
Tips for writing the education section:
- Include professional certifications if you have any.
- Add any academic awards you’ve received.
- No need to include your graduation dates — they could encourage bias in the hiring process.
Functional resume FAQ
A: Your typical functional resume definition explains that this format brings your skills and expertise front and center. This contrasts with a chronological resume, which emphasizes your work history. In the showdown of the functional vs chronological resume, the functional resume format is a good choice for job seekers who lack work experience as it accentuates the specific skills you can bring to a job, rather than your job history.
A: The functional resume format is best for candidates who:
- Have never had a job.
- Are a current college or high school student.
- Are applying for a job outside their field or industry.
- Have gaps in their employment history.
- Have frequently changed jobs.
A: The four types of resumes are:
We consider the first three — chronological, functional and combination — to be the core resume types. Each one is a distinct format serving a different purpose. Chronological is the most common. Recruiters love this format because it places work history at the forefront. Functional is skills-focused, while combination is a balance of the two previous formats.
On the other hand, targeted resumes can be any of the three formats. “Targeted” simply means customizing your resume for every application by including keywords from the job description. We highly recommend customizing your resume for every job.
A: 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 close attention to the technical abilities the job requires.
If you have specific academic or extracurricular achievements related to the job, 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.
A: Yes, they do. Recruiters only spend about seven seconds glancing over a resume, and they may become impatient if they don’t see any work experience, so in the battle of chronological resume vs functional, chronological usually comes out on top.
That said, recruiters understand that some candidates, like those still in school or changing industries, don’t have enough work experience to make a traditional resume. The best-case scenario is that recruiters will look past the format and focus on the applicant's skills and related accomplishments.