Functional Resume Writing Guide

The skills-based resume perfect for a career change

Resume Templates

The lesser-known functional resume can be a great option for certain positions requiring many technical skills or for specific candidates with lots of potential.

Have you been wondering what a functional resume is?

How to make one?

Or what the benefits of this resume style are?

Look no further! This guide to how to write a functional resume will answer all your questions and provide you with tips for creating a functional resume that works for you.

After learning a little about it, applicants are able to showcase their best skills and customize the functional resume layout to fit the abilities they can personally bring to the new vacancy and use their achievements as proof of their suitability for the role.

If you’re looking for a functional resume definition, check out the following functional resume writing guide to find out what it is and for advice.


What is a Functional Resume?

The functional resume has been a topic of debate for many human resource specialists but it’s important to know what a functional resume is as it may be the best way to promote your professional profile.

The Functional Resume is the least common of the three main resume formats. Also known as the skills-based resume, its focus is the abilities and achievements of the candidate and does not generally include a list of employers, positions held and corresponding dates like the chronological resume structure or the combination resume layout.

This can sometimes lead to doubts as to whether the candidate really has the skills he or she claims to have and where or when they may have learnt them which can mean that human resources and hiring managers are sometimes wary of applicants with a functional resume.

However, there are ways to counteract these worries and due to the nature of this resume style it can be very beneficial for certain jobseekers. Read on for our tips and advice on how to build a functional resume to create a winning resume which encompasses all of your skills, achievements and experiences relevant to the job vacancy.

If your work history is sketchy or there are gaps in your work experience, a functional resume template could help you conceal or even promote these periods if they were perhaps beneficial to the current vacancy, so it is not wise to completely disregard the functional resume before understanding how a functional resume works and how to format a functional resume correctly.

The Functional Resume Layout

If writing a resume is a daunting task, building one with a functional layout can seem impossible to achieve without help.

Applicants with a functional resume structure maintain the basic format by focusing heavily on the skills and achievements they have obtained or accomplished in their personal and professional career.

It is however recommended to at least mention the dates and place of employment in some area of the functional resume layout as a way of dispelling suspicion that some employers may have towards this type of format.

It can be complicated to know how to format a functional resume as it is not as common as other resume structures so here’s a list of what to include in a functional resume:

  • Contact details
  • A qualifications summary and list of technical and practical skills also known as core competencies
  • Principal skills and description of achievements as evidence
  • Education section
  • Brief work history section

The skills mentioned on your functional resume should only detail relevant abilities which are required by the specific vacancy you’re applying to.

To get quick and reliable resume help to create a resume with the functional layout you can also try using a resume builder or take a look at some resume examples to get some inspiration.

Functional Resume: Advantages and Disadvantages

There are pros and cons to each resume style but with the functional resume format it is important to weigh up the positive and negative aspects regarding your personal requirements.


As the functional resume structure allows for the candidate to focus heavily on the skills and abilities that he or she can bring to the new role, it can be a highly useful tool for jobseekers looking to change careers or those who have little to no work experience such as students or even for some entry-level candidates. 

Also the functional resume format can be advantageous to those who have little experience in a particular field or position but are interested in making a change and already possess many of the essential job requirements.

The key to creating a functional resume is being able to adapt your personal and professional skills to the position you’re seeking and also to be able to provide relevant proof that what you have accomplished in previous job roles makes you the ideal applicant.

As opposed to the chronological resume, which can be quite repetitive if the candidate has followed a similar career path, the functional resume highlights different skills without repeating the same aspect perhaps used in various roles.


An unfortunate disadvantage to the functional resume format is that it is not optimized for Applicant Tracking Systems due to the lack of specific sections, dates and an ordered work history. This can mean that if you’re applying to a company who uses ATS technology in part of their application process, your resume may be discarded early on without being reviewed by a human.

When learning how to write a functional resume, you must bear in mind that often employers see the functional resume format as a way of hiding gaps in work history or covering up other information that a candidate might not want to publicize which means you should try to be as transparent and informative as possible in order to eliminate any mistrust on the part of the hiring manager.

Tips for Writing a Functional Resume

The functional resume format is not the typical resume that everyone learns to use at the start of their career so if you have decided that it is the fitting resume structure for your needs and for the vacancy that interests you, the following tips for writing a functional resume should help to guide you through the process.

  • Any functional resume layout begins with the candidate’s contact details followed by a new section dedicated to summarizing the qualifications that are most relevant to the vacancy and a list of technical and practical skills which the applicant possesses.
  • The second part of the functional resume structure comprises the foundations of the aptly-named skills-based resume with a list of 3-4 key skills that the applicant has mastered and are applicable for the current position on offer.
  • Similarly to the work experience section in a chronological resume, the skills mentioned in the functional resume should be followed by a bullet point list detailing evidence of the skill in use and the results obtained through their use.
  • Be original with the language you use for this information as the idea is that the employer understands how you personally have implemented that specific skill and accomplished something appropriate to the new role.
  • Within these details you should attempt to include at least one quantifiable point per skill. This means that you should show the potential employer how much you were able to improve or increase efficiency / budgets / funds / revenue / production etc. by using said skill.
  • As is well known by potential employers one of the tricks of the functional resume format is that it allows you to avoid giving too much information if you are a jobseeker with gaps in your work history by not including a chronological list. You can do this by only including the years worked in each position and not specifying the months of beginning or terminating.
  • Also another way to put a positive spin on periods of unemployment is by labelling them with a different term for example if you were traveling, studying or parenting at the time.

Due to the difficulty of writing a functional resume from scratch, it is advisable to use an online resume builder or even just to use a resume sample for this task in order to create a winning resume that will take you to the next step.

Functional Resume Templates

As this resume structure is quite uncommon the best way to make sure you’re making the most of your resume is either by using a resume maker to guide you through step-by-step or to use a functional resume sample with instructions on what to include in each section.

Get a headstart with a functional resume example to help you write your effective resume based on skills and abilities. These resume templates will allow you to see how your profile fits and how you can adapt the qualities that you have developed in previous roles to the current vacancy.

With exception to the main sections mentioned in the functional resume layout plan, candidates can add various other aspects that they feel may be important such as publications, voluntary experience, awards etc. to the functional resume template to then complete with their personal information.

Resume Coach offers a variety of functional resume templates which candidates can use to create an effective resume emphasizing the most valuable skills for the role to improve their chances of getting a callback.


Last modified on July 6th, 2020

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