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What Is A Functional Resume?

A functional resume is a type of resume format that allows you to emphasize your specific job skills and abilities while downplaying any weaknesses you may have in work history.

To think of it another way, a functional resume is just a different way to organize the content of your resume to show off what your best at.

The purpose of the functional resume is to overwhelm the recruiter with positive information in the top half of the resume. That way, by the time they get to your weaker spots they may have already convinced themselves how great of a fit you are.

Why Use A Functional Resume?

The functional resume format is a good choice for job seekers that have the skills and knowledge to get hired but may have a less than stellar work history.

Maybe you have had a lot of short-term jobs over a small time period and you’re worried about looking like a job-hopper. Or maybe you have a few year gap of employment recently that you don’t have the greatest explanation for.

Regardless of the reason, a functional resume is a great fit for anyone who would like to organize their work history a little differently.


How To Write A Functional Resume

Organizing your career information into a different type of resume format can be a great way to shake things up if you’ve been having bad luck with your job search.

As we go through the parts of a functional resume, think about how you are organizing your career information on the page. And also think about how a hiring manager’s eyes would be guided through the page.

Layout & Format Of The Functional Resume

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at a sample functional resume to see what it looks like:


This particular functional resume has 5 sections: heading, professional summary, skills, job descriptions, work history details, and education.

Your resume may have a different number of sections than this resume because this resume happens to separate the job descriptions from the work details themselves. What matters more than section numbers is how you organize the information and what you put into each section.

As you go through the notes for each section, understand that the underlying point of a functional resume is to show your strongest skills and abilities first while displaying any shortcomings or less relevant information at the bottom of the resume.

For some people, how long they’ve worked at jobs or how many companies they’ve worked for can be a deterrent to future employers. With a functional resume, you can turn this potential downside into an upside by showing the number of different skills you have learned and how you’ve used them to show that you are a good fit for the job. Also, never hide your employment history dates. They will ask for it eventually, you’ll have to provide it, and they’ll know you hide information that isn’t in your best interest and probably not hire you anyway. Be up-front, but explain the benefits to any potential downsides they bring up.

This is also a good resume for people with stable work history who have worked for the same company for many years but have worked across different departments and responsibility levels. The categorized job duties sections let you go into lots of details about the different roles you’ve held.

So think of the functional resume not as some totally different concept of a resume, but just displaying the same information in a different and hopefully more appealing way.

Functional Resume Heading

Nothing changes with the heading on a functional resume. It will still go at the top and include at least four pieces of information: your name, phone number, location, and e-mail address.

Functional Resume Professional Summary

Next on your resume will be a professional summary.

The professional summary needs to be a summation of how you address the employers need(s), using a combination of descriptions that fit in with what will follow on your resume.

This summary could be anywhere from 1-4 sentences. You can decide best how to use the space on your resume, but I find that it’s best to be brief in your opening.

If you’d like more information on professional summaries and templates with a professional summary, click here.

Work History & Job Descriptions For a Functional Resume

With a functional resume, your previous employment will be described under headings of skills and/or job titles.

The key to a great functional resume is coming up with great headings for your past experience. What makes a heading “great” will differ from job to job, but your headings should be customized for each job you are applying to.

This is important because even with jobs that share a job title, like “customer service representative”, their duties and responsibilities could be vastly different.

So take the time to review each and every job listing to gain an understanding of not only the individual skills a company is looking for, but the general ideas and concepts they expect you to understand or quickly learn.

You will also need to go back and review at least the last 7 years of your work history (or however many you have, if you have less) and start to think of the jobs you’ve had and the skills you’ve acquired in terms of their “job titles” or “general skill groupings”.

Even if you can’t quite think of the exact title just yet, start to group your different abilities and skills so that you can begin to describe and write them with a larger purpose in mind. In fact, sometimes you may keep what you’ve written and just change the titles to make a resume more appealing for certain companies.

Under each category title should be a combination of job duties and descriptions of applying your skills. Use the job listing for the job you’re applying for to find out what types of skills the company needs.

Once you know the skillsets, talk about how you’ve applied those skills and abilities to get tasks done.

Tasks and duties you describe should vary in length (daily tasks to monthly or yearly goals) and responsibility (team vs. personal accountability). And ultimately, the skills and abilities you talk about should be in the context of an accomplishment whenever possible.

For example, if you’re working in a call center and hit daily goals of getting to 100 callers a day, then you would talk about your ability to handle customer issues quickly in the context of meeting (or exceeding) company expectations.

Quick Note On Being Specific re: Specific Job Description Titles

You can also use specific job category titles depending on the job you are applying for. For example, in the resume above there is a title for “Web Design”. But if the job you are applying to requests a specific coding language rather than talking about general web design, it may be a good to make a more specific category title such as “Javascript Developer”.

This is the most important section of any functional resume, so it is important to explain your strongest points with as much detail as possible so that an employer can again understand the full context of how great of an employee you are.

Listing Education on a Functional Resume


Free Functional Resume Templates For Download

3 Column Skills Functional Resume Template

functional_skills_resume_templateThis functional skills resume template is best for people with lots of technical skills.

Three columns of specific skills lead into your categorized experience.

Make sure to still include all of your employment history at the bottom of the resume.

Click For Download Page

File name: Functional Skills Resume Template.docx

File size: 7.9 KB

Total downloads: 140


2 Column Functional Resume Template

functional_two_columns_resume_templateThis functional resume organizes your experience into two seperate columns.

The left column address your most specific & technical skills.

The right column is a combination of detailed employment experience & talking about how you used your skills.

Click For Download Page

File name: functional two columns resume template.docx

File size: 18.2 KB

Total downloads: 88


Years of Experience Functional Resume Template

years_of_experience_functional_resume_templateThis resume organizes your past experience into summary sections that detail your specific skills.

More resume details coming soon.

Click For Download Page

File name: Years-of-Experience-Functional-Resume-Template.docx

File size: 7.2 KB

Total downloads: 52


College Education Functional Resume Template

College Education Functional Resume TemplateThis college education based functional resume organizes your resume into categories based on your schooling.

Show off your skills as well with a dedicated skills section.

Click For Download Page

File name: College-Education-Functional-Resume-Template.docx

File size: 7.5 KB

Total downloads: 40


Video Tutorial: Build a Functional Resume

Video Description

The above video is a tutorial on how to build a functional resume for job hoppers, career changers, and students.

A functional resume is a great way to show off your technical knowledge and skills while disguising your past work history (or lack thereof).

Video Transcript