While resumes are most commonly written in the reverse-chronological format by listing a candidate’s experience by jobs held over time, this is only one way to present your skills and qualifications. If a standard resume format does not accurately represent your fitness for the job, there are other options, such as a functional resume format. In this article, we’ll explain how to present your background through a functional resume along with tips and examples for inspiration.
What is a functional resume?
A functional resume is a resume format that primarily showcases a candidate’s skills. As opposed to a reverse-chronological resume that organizes a candidate’s experience under their previously or currently-held professional jobs held in order of recency, the functional resume groups a candidate’s experience under skills or categories of skills. This allows employers to focus on the candidate’s qualifications such as any technical or soft skills required for the job. Here’s an example of what a functional resume should look like:
Functional Resume Format
1. Name and contact information
3. Skills grouped by theme
4. Any relevant professional experience
When to use a functional resume
You should use a functional resume if the standard reverse-chronological format is not a flattering or appropriate representation of your qualifications. This might be true.
When you are changing careers and do not have significant experience within your chosen profession or industry
If you’re a recent graduate without extensive professional experience
If you have significant gaps in your employment history
If you’ve gained significant skills and experiences in ways other than professional jobs, such as in school or through mentorship
Essentially, if you feel your qualifications are better categorized under types of skills rather than within a set of jobs you’ve held, a functional resume may be a good fit for you.
Functional vs. reverse-chronological vs. combination resume
The type of resume you decide to write will depend on your professional background, education and job you’re applying for. If you are changing careers or industries or have gaps in your work experience, a functional resume may be right for you. The functional resume structure allows employers to quickly understand how your strengths relate to the job description and places less importance on the specific timeline of your professional experiences.
The reverse-chronological resume lists work experience from newest to oldest. This resume is good for professionals with no or few gaps in work experience and whose experience is closely related to the job opening.
The mix of chronological and functional resumes results in the “combination” resume. Skills and abilities are listed first, followed by chronological experience. This resume format is good for emphasizing specific skills and abilities of professionals with diverse backgrounds and creative applicants like designers or artists.
Below, you’ll find tips and examples for writing a functional resume.
How to write a functional resume
Once you’ve decided the functional format is a good fit, you can then go about designing and customizing your resume. Here are a few guidelines to consider as you write your functional resume:
1. Start with a summary.
Opening your resume with a concise summary is optional but it can be a nice addition to a functional resume because it gives employers more context about you. In this summary, include your primary experience, relevant skills and overarching career goals.
Read more: How to Write a Resume Summary
2. Include your contact information.
Before the summary, add a contact section that includes your full name, email and phone number and city and state of residence (Note: You don’t need to include your street address if you’d like to keep that information private).
3. Group your skills.
Next, list your primary skills and abilities. Typically this is done within the structure of buckets or themes. If helpful, you can use keywords from the job description to inform your skill categories. Then, include four to five bullets underneath each skill category listing your most relevant and impressive experiences or achievements.
Instead of simply listing tasks you’ve completed or responsibilities you’ve held, communicate the impact you’ve driven and the results you’ve gained with numbers. For example, under a category for sales skills, a candidate might say:
“Experience completing high-volume daily outbound calls with successful conversion rates.”
A better and more impressive way to communicate this would be:
“Recognized as a top performer by consistently completing 100+ daily outbound calls with 20% conversion rate.”
Including the specific impact you’ve made is more compelling to employers and immediately sets you apart from other candidates.
4. List the professional experience you do have.
Though there may be gaps in your work experience, including the work you have done can be helpful for employers—especially when relevant to the position. List the workplace and key contributions, leaving dates off or including only the year if preferable. This section should be placed below your main skills section.
5. List your education.
At the bottom, list your educational background. Include the name of the institution, area of study, any relevant achievements and diploma received, if applicable. Some people leave education off of their functional resume if it’s not relevant to the job or if it would bring up additional questions for employers, so consider whether including your education would help position you as a strong candidate.
After you’ve written your functional resume, take the time to edit and proofread to ensure it addresses the skills and abilities listed in the job description. Writing a cover letter can be a helpful supplement to a functional resume, giving employers a chance to understand your qualifications and the skills that make you a strong choice for the position.
Functional resume template and examples
Let’s look at a couple of different examples of functional resumes to help guide your own resume writing.
Customer service functional resume example
In this example, you’ll see that the experience section lists the years worked at the companies. This is a way to provide a high-level timeline that can help draw focus away from a gap. This person also includes an “Areas of Experience” section that gives a more detailed view of experiential skills. This can be a good opportunity to include skills relevant to the job description that may not fall into one of your themes.
555 Cherry Lane
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48111-9626
Customer Service Representative with over three years of experience resolving complex customer inquiries. Passionate about building strong customer relationships, driving brand loyalty, and increasing customer engagement.
Area of Experience
Retail Sales, Data Entry, Microsoft Office, Typing, Complaint resolution, Service-based selling, Fluency in French and Spanish
Created customer service email scripts used across the company to interact with customers. Single-handedly created customer service representative training manual, reducing the onboarding process from 8 to 6 weeks. Reduced average customer representative call time by 90 seconds with intuitive online training
Answered an average of 50+ calls per day from unsatisfied customers related to delays in shipment, order mistakes and lost orders. Achieved 97% average customer satisfaction rating, surpassing team goal by 12%.
Consistently exceeded application targets by 10%+ with innovative up-selling techniques. Pioneered development of an improved system for following up with unsatisfied customers, reducing customer churn by 6%.
Cloud Clearwater, 2017
Customer Service Manager: Managed customer relationships via phone and email to obtain payments, resolve inquiries and up-sell programs.
Customer referral program: Spearheaded project, increasing customer base by 15% in less than 6 months.
Customer Service Representative: Resolved customer inquiries via phone and email, consistently exceeding targets and pioneering processes for better customer satisfaction.
Coral Springs University, 2009–2013
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
Production management functional resume example
In this example, we look at a functional resume for a production manager. This example does not include dates in the experience section but does note them in the education section.
555 Sunny Blvd.
Long Island, NY
Quality-driven and industrious production manager with over three years of experience streamlining operations to create competitive production volume, schedules and standards. Identifies waste and inefficiencies to implement targeted improvement strategies.
Skills and Abilities
Created fast-paced operations schedules to encourage high-volume production and reliable shipment times. Implemented quality assurance procedures to reduce waste and material damage, successfully reducing material costs by 10%
Managed 30+ warehouse employees including machine operators, logisticians and transportation workers. Conducted monthly safety meetings to ensure the work environment operates efficiently and without hazards.
Oversaw production, performing random quality checks and ensuring best practices were followed. Created fast-paced operations schedules to encourage high-volume production and reliable shipment times.
Retail Ocean, Production Manager
Oversaw all safety and quality assurance processes for reliable shipment times and increased customer satisfaction.
River Tech, Production Supervisor
Managed warehouse employees and production performance to ensure efficient logistics from end to end.
Green Valley State, 2008–2012
Bachelor of Science in Supply Chain Management