The Functional Resume: Definition, Examples, and Template

a picture of business person and functional resume

A functional resume is a resume format that highlights skills over work experience. Sometimes referred to as a skills-based resume. This resume format displays your qualifications as a professional, leading with your soft skills and technical skills.

Who is a functional resume for?

When should you use a functional resume?

Is it going to be an effective way of securing a job?

Get an answer to each of these common questions below.

functional resume

What is a functional resume?

A functional resume is a type of resume format which utilizes prior work skills or characteristics over work experience. The purpose of a functional resume is to bring attention to the professionals transferrable skills rather than their work history (usually listed in chronological format).

A functional resume is common for academic or science positions, where skills and education could be more important than work history.

The name of the resume format refers to how the resume is organized, primarily the resume sections what comes first or last.

What goes inside of a functional resume?

This resume format still contains most of the information that could be seen inside of a traditional resume or chronological resume.

That includes:

  • Contact information.
  • Education.
  • Work history/employment history.
  • Volunteer work.
  • Certifications.
  • A resume summary/career objective.
  • And other resume sections.

Functional resume vs. chronological resume

A key difference between these two resume types is how much emphasis the skills section receives. And the overall layout of the resume.

functional resume

For example, a chronological resume will list these sections in priority:

  • Contact information.
  • Employment history.
  • Education.
  • Skills.
  • Certifications.

While a functional resume will list the resume sections in this priority:

  • Contact information.
  • Skills.
  • Education.
  • Certifications.
  • Employment history.

In both circumstances, the resume formats will list work history in reverse chronological order. Resulting in the most recent place of employment being at the top of the resume.

Job seekers should always list their most recent place of employment at the top of the resume. As recruiters and hiring managers will have a far easier time comprehending the resume.

Who should use a functional resume?

Functional resumes should be used by academic and science professionals. It should not be used by the traditional job seeker. It is not a way to stand out from other job seekers and applicants.

It would be a grave mistake to think that using a functional resume could be a key differentiator in the job application.

While it's primarily up to the job seeker to determine if the a functional resume format is best for them.

functional resume

The best way to determine whether a functional resume format is best for your job application is to consider what the job description/job ad is looking for.

If the job requires skills and accomplishments as their main method of judging the applicant, a functional resume would be best.

Read the job advertisement and look whether the hiring manager is seeking skills related to the job over work experience and education.

Good for those with employment gaps?

For those with employment gaps, it's best to use a reverse chronological or chronological resume.

A functional resume is not great for those with gaps in their resume.

What about people who want to change careers? No. Stick to a chronological resume.

What are the 4 types of resumes?

Technically, there are 5 types of resume formats. They are:

Here is the breakdown of the resume types and their benefits.

Chronological resume

  • Highlights experience and achievements.
  • Easy to read for recruiters.
  • Applicant tracking systems can read them.

Functional resume

  • Highlights key skills and relevant skills.
  • Good for academics.

Combination resume

And here are their cons.

Chronological resume

  • Requires consistent formatting.
  • Doesn't look creative.
  • Could expose employment gaps.

Functional resume

  • Difficult to read.
  • Applicant tracking systems cannot scan/read these.

Combination resume

  • Recommended for specialized professionals.
  • A difficult format to organize.

Remember, a functional resume is best for job titles where the hiring manager wants to see your skills inside of a position more than seeing traditional work experience.

This resume format allows you to highlight your relevant skills rather than focusing on past jobs.

functional resume

Functional Resume Example

Below is an example of a functional resume.

Susanne Smith

Chemical Engineer

-

444 Synergy Drive

Chicago, IL, 60610 USA

773-444-5508

[email protected]

susannesmith.com

linkedin.com/susansmith

-

Resume objective

A highly passionate chemical engineer with a BA in engineering from Northwestern Medical. Seeking to start my career in a place that embraces the science behind cancer research and the science of proteins. Interested in developing and creating new chemical compounds on a regular basis.

Skills summary

Science background

  • Led research and development around the use of proteins in in the body.
  • Worked with other scientists to create over 10,000 tests that studied the human body.
  • Designed chemical compounds for lab tests and lab animals during clinical trials.

Clinical work

  • Created more than 100 lab tests that led to Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials.
  • Worked closely with senior lab technicians and scientists.
  • Assisted lab technicians in following lab protocols and regulation/compliance.

Work history

iMedicine

March 2020 to present

Chicago, IL

-

NewU Labs

May 2018 to May 2020

San Diego, CA

Education

BA in Chemical Engineering

Northwestern Medicine, 2009

Additional skills

  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, clinical trial work, regulatory compliance, problem-solving, and more.

Languages

  • French and Spanish

Resume example for students

Below is a functional resume sample for students.

Bryan Anderson

Conceptual Artists

-

599 Emergy Lane

Geneva, IL 60134 USA

630-744-5867

[email protected]

banderson.com

linkedin.com/b.anderson

-

Resume objective

A passionate, experienced individual who recently graduated. Looking to secure a position as an artist within a 3D studio. Able to contribute a wide variety of creative needs. From typography, layouts, font design, and 3D/4D animation design. Looking to use my art to increase brand awareness and develop strong marketing campaigns alongside a bigger brand.

Skills summary

Design background

  • Developed creative executions that spoke to customers through billboards.
  • Worked with clients to research, concept, design, and execute art pieces through a variety of mediums.

Client work

  • Assisted sales teams in creating collateral for their marketing/sales efforts. And tried to reach the customer where they frequented.
  • Became a problem-solver and executor within three small businesses.

Illustration work

  • Created more than 10,000 infographics.
  • Developed new graphic design concepts for promotional campaigns.

Work history

New Solutions

April 2020 to present

Chicago, IL

-

Marketing Fields

April 2018 to April 2020

San Diego, CA

Education

BA in Graphic Design and Fine Arts

Columbia College Chicago, 2009

Additional skills

  • Proficient in Adobe Suite, Illustrator, 3DS Max, Maya, PageMaker, Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, and many more.

Languages

  • French and Spanish

Functional Resume Format/Layout

Here's what will go inside (the resume structure) of a functional resume when you write your own.

Name and job title

Your name and job title that you hold in your career. This should come from a past position that you held. Or having strict knowledge of what type of job title you're best suited for.

functional resume

Contact information

Should include your name, phone number, email address, LinkedIn url, professional website, and other details related to reaching you.

A resume objective

A brief summary of what you hope to achieve in your career. Career objectives should state what you hope to achieve with your new job. And how that will advance your career.

Include some references to prior job experiences if available.

Skills and summary

A history of your abilities on the job. It doesn't need to include the job title. Rather, lists the skills that you utilized in order to achieve specific objectives.

These skills should be related to your industry and the job you're applying for.

For example:

  • Utilized interpersonal skills and comprehension of automation to increase sales 4X.
  • Adapted the management style of our sales team by utilizing market research skills in changing economic conditions.

Education

Your education history. Should include any undergraduate work. Doctorate degrees. Or master's degrees.

Recruiters in academic/science industries will be looking at education more than work history.

functional resume

Work history

Similar to writing a chronological resume, a history of past employment.

Employers will always want to see your career history/past jobs. And how that landed you on the position you're applying for.

Additional skills

Will increase the overall quality of your functional resume. Additional skills can be unrelated to the job/industry. And can provide recruiters with the opportunity to place you in another position that you aren't applying for.

Functional Resume Template

[Your name]

[Job title]

-

[Your address]

[City/state/zip]

[Your phone number]

[Your email address]

[Professional website]

[Your LinkedIn URL]

-

Resume objective

[Anywhere from 150 to 200 words about your career objectives]

Skills summary

[General category of the skill set]

  • [Skills and experience related to the job you're applying for]

Work history

[Company]

[Employment Dates]

[Location]

Education

[Major]

[University and year graduated]

Additional skills

  • [List additional skills relevant to the job]

Languages/certifications

  • [Language proficiency]

functional resume

Tips

Tips when writing a functional resume.

  • Look at examples. Always reference examples of a functional resume format when writing your own. Don't copy and paste the examples verbatim. Rather, use them as guides to help you write an effective resume for the job you're applying for.
  • Pick the right format. It's been mentioned in this guide often, make sure that a functional resume is the best type of format for your job application.
  • Proofread. It sounds simple. Having a friend or a family member read your resume can be very beneficial. A spelling issue on a resume can lead to disaster. And it can communicate that you don't have attention to detail or professional writing skills.
  • Make sure your priorities are correct. If you're writing a functional resume, be sure that the resume sections are in the correct order.
  • List relevant skills. Because this resume format is emphasizing your skills over any work history, it's best to consider what skills are going to be most relevant to the job. Read the job description/job posting in detail. And make sure that you're considering what the hiring manager is looking for in an ideal candidate. Then, write your skills and how you utilized those skills according to the job.
  • Customize the resume. Similar to making sure that you list relevant skills, make sure the resume is entirely formatted for the job you're applying for. Consider the employer, industry, hiring manager, and how other applicants resumes could look.

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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