What Is A Functional Resume?
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The functional resume format is a possible alternative to the more common reverse-chronological resume. Instead of showing your experience in order, functional resumes foreground skills and abilities, emphasizing your areas of expertise and grouping previous positions according to the skills required rather than adhering to a timeline. A functional resume allows job-seekers to highlight the specific skills and abilities that are relevant to the job they are applying for.

When should I use a functional resume?

Many job-seekers don't know when to use a functional resume. They are less common than reverse-chronological resumes, but there are a few situations where they can be useful.

Functional resumes are most commonly used when a job-seeker is changing careers. When entering a new industry, a functional resume can be used to emphasize the most relevant skills and experiences. With its stricter structure, a reverse-chronological resume may not foreground transferable skills as well.

Functional resumes are also used by people who do not have much experience, such as recent grads. If a job-seeker does not have many previous positions to display, a functional resume can be useful for emphasizing skills and achievements rather than past jobs.

Functional resumes are also occasionally used when a job-seeker has gaps in their work history. If jobs are not listed in order, periods of unemployment will be more difficult to catch. Hiring managers are suspicious of this practice, however, so if you have gaps in your work history it is better to be honest about them and have appropriate explanations prepared.

Most hiring managers and recruiters prefer the traditional reverse-chronological resume. They are easy to read and give a simple overview of your career story, whereas the non-linear structure of functional resumes can be more difficult to read quickly. Unless you have been specifically asked to supply a functional resume, it is safest to use a reverse-chronological one.


How to write a functional resume

  • Include your contact information: Display your contact details at the top of your resume where recruiters can easily see them.
  • Include a career summary: A career summary is a brief section at the beginning of your resume that summarizes your skills and accomplishments, highlighting what is most relevant to the position.
  • Group your skills: Sort your skills into groups. If skills are grouped together by relevance, hiring managers can easily navigate to the skill set that they are most interested in.
  • Categorize your employment history: Though your work history will not be shown reverse-chronologically, it should still be included. You can group past positions by industry, role, or some other theme. The idea is to make it so that employers can easily navigate to the work experience that interests them, even if your past jobs were in a different field.
  • List your education: An education section where your academic credentials are listed should be included in your functional resume.
  • Use keywords: Use the language of your industry and the specific job posting when writing your resume. The words used in the job posting will give you an idea of what the hiring managers are looking for in a resume.
  • Mention relevant projects: Select your most impressive previous projects that are relevant to your position and feature them in your functional resume. Employers will appreciate these examples of what you can contribute to a team.
  • Write a cover letter: A resume goes hand in hand with a cover letter. Whether your resume is functional or reverse-chronological, a cover letter is an important part of introducing yourself to an employer.
James Clift

Written By

James Clift

Co-Founder & Director

James is an entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of VisualCV. He has spent the last 10 years building businesses, from window cleaning to software. His passion is helping individuals create the careers they want.

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