How To Write a Great Functional Resume

A functional resume can be a lifesaver for job applicants who don’t have a lot of experience in a particular industry. Follow our tips for writing an amazing functional resume.

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Functional Resume

Of the three types of resumes, a functional resume displays your skills most prominently, emphasizing abilities and qualifications that will help you benefit the company you’re applying for. But is the functional resume the right choice for your resume, and are you creating it so it will impress a potential employer? Here’s everything you need to know about the functional resume, including how to use it and why.
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What Is a Functional Resume?

A functional resume is a resume that prioritizes the skills section of your resume over your work experience. Usually, job seekers will highlight their work history to show they’re the right person for a job, but a functional resume is meant for those whose employment history is in some way lacking, which means it’s appropriate if you’re a first-time job seeker, have employment gaps, don’t have many years of experience, or have recently gone through a career change.

How Is a Functional Resume Different From a Chronological Resume or Combination Resume?

The three main types of resumes are the functional resume, the chronological resume, and the combination resume.
The chronological resume format prioritizes your work history, which is typically placed near the top of the resume. Work experience is listed in reverse chronological order, with most recent jobs first, which is why it’s also called a reverse-chronological resume. This is a great type of resume if you have a lot of experience in the field you’re looking to go into, as recruiters can see right off the bat that you’ve worked in this field for a long time.
A combination resume is a combination of a functional resume and a chronological resume. In contrast to a functional resume, it provides a bit more information about your work history.

When To Use a Functional Resume

When should you use a functional resume? A functional resume works best in these situations:

  • You have an employment gap in your career that is difficult to explain
  • You’re pursuing a career change
  • You’ve recently graduated
  • You have internships rather than previous jobs in your work history

It’s also typically best to use functional resumes for jobs that place a premium on skills rather than experience. when you’ll be able to physically hand your resume to someone, rather than submitting the resume to an automated system. Often, functional resumes don’t rank well with keywords, so they don’t work well for ATS systems and similar processes.

The Structure of a Functional Resume

What is the structure of a functional resume? Typically, there are four sections you’ll use when building your functional resume. Here’s the easy path to a great functional resume.
1. Summary
First is your resume summary. If you want to know more about how to write a resume summary, check out the resume summary page on the ResumeHelp blog. To support your resume, make sure the specific skills and experiences you mention in your resume summary are ones that directly apply to the job listing. For example, if you’re transitioning from business to computer science, you may want to mention your knowledge of specific web development tools rather than the fact that you organized financial reports.
2. Skills
Next is your skills section. This is where you have a lot of room to stretch out and choose specific skills that apply to the job you want. For example, if you’re applying for a social media management job listing, note technical skills related to social media such as running campaigns on social media sites. Categorize your skills in subcategories (e.g., “Organizational Skills,” “Software Skills”), with a handful of skills per subcategory.
3. Relevant professional experience
This work history section should typically only include any experiences that you think will help in your job search. If you’re pursuing a career change, include jobs with transferable skills, and point out how you used these skills in the job.
4. Education
Lastly, you’ll want to include an education section. This section will include information about where you went to college, as well as any other relevant information. If you have college experience, avoid listing your high school experience; high school experience should only be part of your resume if you don’t have a college degree.

Functional Resume: Specific Examples

One way to make sure your functional resume works well is to look at a functional resume example for your specific field. You can find examples for functional resumes in your industry using ResumeHelp’s resume examples. Our templates will also allow you to understand what will help your resume really stand out.

FAQ: Functional Resumes

Q: What’s the best resume format for me?

Different resume formats will work best for different job opportunities and individuals. Consider the job title you’re looking at, the specific requirements in the job description, and how they match up with your skills and employment history.

Typically, if you have a job history that aligns well with the job you’re looking for, you’ll want to use a chronological resume. If you don’t have a job history that aligns well with the job you’re looking for, use a combination resume or a functional resume. Our resume builder allows you to build whatever type of resume works best for your needs.

Q: Is a functional resume a good option for a career change?

If you’re looking into changing career paths, the functional format resume is a good choice for your resume. That’s because your top skills will be front and center, which will help a potential employer understand why you’re the best person for the job, even if you haven’t worked in the industry yet.

It’s also a good idea to use a functional resume if you don’t have extensive experience, you can feature a skill set that works perfectly with the career you’re looking into, which compensates for lack of work history. Certifications and accreditations you already have for skills that are valuable in your new career are also good to showcase.

Q: Do I need to change my cover letter with a functional resume?

Your cover letter is the best way for you to elaborate on your skill set to hiring managers. That means you may need to highlight different abilities or qualifications based on the job you’re shooting for. Tailor your cover letter for every job application you submit by doing the following:

  1. Go into detail about some key skills or experiences you’ve used in previous jobs and how you can apply those skills to a new job.
  2. Give an explanation of where you’re coming from and why you’re interested in the job. If you’re going through a career change, acknowledge it and why you’re doing it. If you’re fresh out of college, outline your career goals and interest in the specific job.

Q: Should I list soft skills and hard skills on my functional resume?

Soft skills (also known as intangible skills) such as communication and teamwork, as well as hard skills, which are specific technical skills you develop for a specific job, are both important to mention in your functional resume. Remember that you need to be able to back up your soft skills as much as your hard skills, so only list soft skills you know you’re truly good at.

Q: Will a functional resume work with ATS-based systems?

A functional resume may not work as well as a chronological resume when it comes to applicant tracking systems (ATS) that employers often use to scan resumes. ATS essentially looks for keywords embedded within your resume and cover letter. Most ATS are familiar with chronological resumes, but some may find it more difficult to scan the functional format. To overcome this, use a clean, professional layout for your resume by choosing one of our resume templates.

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