What is a Functional Resume?

While many resumes are written in reverse chronological order, a functional resume takes a different approach. This type of resume allows you to focus more on your skills and experience rather than your work history.

It does not restrict you from following a chronological order when detailing your experience and education. In a nutshell, when writing a functional resume, you only list the experience and skills relevant to the job you are applying for.

Other choices to use when writing a resume

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  • Reverse chronological: A reverse chronological resume allows you to list your work experience and education in reverse chronological order. That is from the newest to the oldest. This type of resume is appropriate for professionals with no or few gaps in work experience and whose experience is closely related to the job opening.
  • Combination: Merging a chronological resume and functional resume results in the combination resume. Skills and abilities are listed first, followed by sequential experience. This resume format is suitable for emphasizing specific skills of professionals with diverse backgrounds and creative applicants like artists, programmers, or designers.

The best time to use a functional resume


  • When you have gaps in your employment history: Do you have gaps in your employment history? For example, you have taken time off to care for aging relatives. Then it is ok to use a functional resume. This is because it will allow you to focus on your skills and experience rather than your work history.
  • When applying for a job not related to your work history: In case your experience matches your target position, not your current role, then it is also ok to use a functional resume. While you may want to use the combination resume, it is up to you to decide which resume is more appropriate. Often functional resume is the undisputed winner.
  • After graduating: After college or university, you have no work history and little or no experience to show. But it is highly likely you have skills that will appeal to potential employers. A functional resume lets you list your skills more attractively.
  • It is also ok to prepare a functional resume when changing careers, yet you have gaps in your work history. Or when your work history is not related to the job you are applying for. Besides, since employers are always cautious of job-hoppers and since you don’t want to lie about your work experience, then it is ok to use a functional resume. Using it will help you put more emphasis on your skills and other positives.

Advantages of a functional resume

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  • Increase your chances of getting an interview: When you don’t have the exact work experience required for the job, using a functional resume can increase your chances of getting an interview. All you need to do is pair your qualifications to the job posting.
  • A perfect tool when shifting to a different career track: A functional resume allows you to highlight relevant skills. Not to mention that using a functional resume also makes the lack of experience less noticeable. Consequently, this increases your chances of succeeding in your new career path.
  • Hide work gaps: By not detailing timelines in your experience, this resume is ideal when searching for a job, yet you have work gaps likely to hurt your application.

Tips for writing a functional resume

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  • Include a resume summary: Consider including a resume summary at the start of your resume that highlights those skills relevant to the job. Doing so helps shape how the recruiters will see your resume at first glance.
  • Group your skills: Start by listing your primary skills and abilities. You can use themes or buckets to list them. To make your grouping more conspicuous, make sure to use keywords from the job description.
  • Add contact information: Before the summary, add a contact section that includes your full name, email and phone number, and city and state of residence.
  • List your education: Although not necessary, consider listing your educational background at the bottom of your resume. Include the name of the institution, area of study, any relevant achievements, and diploma received. Doing so makes it easier for recruiters to see that you are up to the task.
  • Organize by theme: Consider organizing your resume by themes instead of listing your jobs in reverse chronological order. For example, “Customer Services Experience” and “Recruiting Experience.” Grouping your skills together make it easier for employers to see you have the right skills for the job.
  • Use keywords: Using keywords from the job description make it easier for employers to see that your abilities match well with the job requirements.
  • Mentions relevant projects: Do you have projects that are related to the job? It is appropriate to list them. They demonstrate your success in developing and completing tasks.
  • Add employment history: Though not compulsory, adding your employment history at the bottom of your resume makes you stand out. Make sure to add the employment section at the bottom so employers can focus more on your skills rather than your work history.
  • Write a strong cover letter: Consider preparing a persuasive cover letter that will accompany your resume. Use your cover letter to expand the skills and abilities you have that will make you a strong candidate for the position.

In conclusion

So there you have it, you now know what a functional resume is and when to use it. Let us know if this was helpful or if you have any other suggestions.