Functional Resume: What It Is, When to Use It, Examples (+ Free Template Download)
A functional resume uses relevant academic achievements and soft skills as a way of telling the hiring manager or potential employer that the job candidate is a good fit for the role rather than employment history. This is different from a chronological resume (or reverse chronological resume format) since the resume is two-third soft skills or achievements and only one-third previous work history.
The functional resume format is best for the job seeker who is applying for academic roles, science roles, and other positions where your accolades and achievements are going to judge the job seeker more efficiently than employment history. For example, the job title of a professor or research assistant. If tenured, they may only have one previous employer. But many publications, certificates, and academic accolades that speak to the complete professional history as a professor.
Another potential scenario where a functional format can be used is when entering the workforce after taking time off or when seeking a career change. For example, after taking time off, the job seeker may have a strong employment gap on the resume. Or a lack of relevant work history and employment experience for a particular job title. But a strong history using a key skill, specific skill, technical skill, or relevant skill that the employer values for the role. In that circumstance, a functional resume format may be a good option.
Before writing, be sure to think through which format is right for the job application. Other resume formats to choose from would be a traditional resume (chronological format) or a hybrid resume (or combination resume).
Below is what a functional resume format contains:
- Leans heavily into a transferable skill, relevant skill, technical skill, or key skill.
- Only a small portion of the single-page resume is employment history.
- Hiring managers see relevant skills and functional skills they use to determine fit.
- The skills section is at the top of the resume, employment history at the bottom (unlike a traditional resume).
- The resume starts with a resume summary.
- Professional experience is referred to through skills and accomplishments rather than employment history.
- A hiring manager or recruiter can understand what the candidate can bring to the company through skills and accomplishments.
- Functional headings set the resume format: Training, Education, Certifications, Qualifications, Interests. Rather than employment history and a resume objective.
- A cover letter and references are still included when submitting a functional resume.
As a job seeker, be wary of this resume style as it is only applicable to a select few types of jobs in the job search process. For academic positions, science positions, and medical professionals. Ask the recruiting hiring for the position if the role requires a functional resume for the application. Using a resume writer can be helpful in certain circumstances (like when dealing with employment gaps, a career change, or specific job title requirements).
Functional Resume Sample
Below is a functional resume example and explanation.
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