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What is a functional resume?

It is a resume format used by professionals who want to highlight their skills over experience.

Before we dive-deeper into the use and meaning of a functional resume, we need to understand the types of resume formats available to us.

There are 3 standard resume formats used by professionals from different industries. This blog will help you understand how and when to choose a functional resume for your job application.

The following questions will be answered in the article:

Types of Resume Format

There are three different types of resumes that are accepted within the industry. These resume templates are:

Reverse Chronological Resume Layout

In which your information starts from your current/last-held profile and dates back to the beginning of your education. It includes all your major achievements and information listed along with important dates.

The resume template examples follow the below-mentioned structure:

  1. Contact information
  2. Resume summary or resume objective
  3. Work experience
  4. Education
  5. Skills
  6. Additional Sections

Combination Resume Layout

It is a combination of the reverse chronological resume format and the functional resume format. It allows a candidate to showcase their skills and achievements with evidence from their professional experience.

The points on this format of the resume are grouped based on the skills highlighted.

The resume template examples follow:

  1. Contact information
  2. Skills Summary
  3. Additional Skills
  4. Work Experience
  5. Education

What Is a Functional Resume Template?

Functional resumes are essentially skill based resumes, wherein professionals expand and highlight their relevant skills rather than their work experience.

This format is recommended by resume experts for people with gaps in their employment history or for ones who have changed their jobs a lot.

To help you understand better, here are a few pointer about functional resume:

  • It focuses on your skill set rather than your work experience
  • It works best for when your work history is not related to your targeted job
  • It works in favor for professionals with gaps in their employment history or those who have frequently changed jobs

The ideal structure of the resume template is:

  1. Contact information
  2. Resume objective
  3. Skills Summary
  4. Additional Skills
  5. Work Experience
  6. Education

Also Read: What is the best type of resume format?

Functional Resume vs Chronological Resume

Chronological Resume Functional Resume
Work history is at the top of the resume, listed in a reverse chronological order It focuses more on skills and overall experience rather than chronological work history
It is not mandatory to put a resume summary or headline at the top Resume summary and headlines are located at the top which highlights the candidate's skills and achievements
Used by job seekers who have a strong work history Used by job seekers who are changing the industry or have a career gap

Functional Resume Template: Why Do We Use It?

People who benefit from a functional resume are:

  • Professionals joining creative industries - because your portfolio matters more than your resume.
  • Professionals transitioning Industry - as a detailed job descriptions could be too difficult for unfamiliar recruiters to comprehend.
  • Overqualified or Under-qualified Candidates - who are joining mid-level jobs.

A few key points about the functional resume format:

  • The functional resume can be used by candidates to focus on skills and avoid the work history.
  • Since the focus is on the skills, it helps mask the job shifting trait of the candidate.
  • The functional resume format is not parsed by most ATS since the ATS only looks for points under the relevant work experience.
  • The functional format is not a well accepted resume format as it raises suspicions in the minds of the recruiters that the candidate is trying to hide something.

Functional Resume Template: Who Should Use It and When?

A functional resume template is particularly useful for job-seekers who:

  • Have frequently changed jobs
  • Have gaps in their work history
  • Are reentering the workforce
  • Are transitioning into new careers
  • Under-qualified or Overqualified for particular job posts

The reason functional resumes work well for these people is that most of our acquired skills are transferable despite our careers not standing well.

For example, if you have been a sales manager, you were possibly responsible for training, coaching, and customer relations. These skills could even be used in your functional resume for a Public Relations Manager.

In a chronological resume, this information might not appeal to a recruiter. Essentially you did not hold the title of Public Relations Manager. However, the functional resume format showcases that despite your job profile you have dealt with PR-related issues.

Eventually it comes to how you illustrate yourself. If you give the employers the same information in an improved package you are bound to increase your chances for an interviews. Functional resumes describes more than just background and experience.

How to Make a Functional Resume?

Before we move on to making a functional resume, first we need to understand the format of a functional resume.

How to Format a Functional Resume?

  • Strategically group your key skills into different categories
  • Keep the employment section brief
  • List your previous designations along with the company in your employment section
  • You can omit selective information due to non-compliance with the target profile

Structure of a Functional Resume Format

Follow the order given below to make your resume using the Functional Format:

  1. Contact Information
  2. Qualifications Summary
  3. Relevant Skills
  4. Professional Experience (dates optional)
  5. Education
  6. The Additional Section

Key Sections In a Functional Resume

Functional Resume Summary

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind while drafting a functional format summary:

  • Spend maximum time on crafting your functional resume summary
  • It should be the last section that you write in your resume
  • Highlight your key skills and achievements that align with your target profile
  • Limit your summary to 3-4 lines
  • Avoid writing boring and elaborate summary, keep it concise and relevant

Also Read: How to write a resume summary

Key Skills

In functional resumes, the candidate’s skills are more important than their work history.

The skills section in a functional resume template should include at least three skills that are significant to the target job. For each skill, group 3 or 4 points which can provide evidence for the same.

Quantifying your skills in your functional resume instills confidence in the employer. It showcases that you are able to fulfill the requirements of the position.

In a functional resume template, skills come after your personal details and before your professional or academic experience. To best highlight your functional resume skills list ensure a combination of

  • Skills listed in the job description
  • Skills you possess
Hiration pro tip:
The more specific you can be with your bullet points the better. Quantify what you are saying with some numbers. This allows the recruiter to understand not only your skills but also gives an idea of your achievements and capabilities.

Contact Information

Although adding your contact information looks like the easiest part of the resume writing process yet many functional resumes manage to miss relevant contact details. Include your:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • E-mail address
  • Home address (city and state)

You may even include your LinkedIn URL but do not redirect the recruiter to an empty profile.

Your name should ideally be the largest text on the page between 20-24 pt. font size. The rest of your font may correspond to the font style and size of the rest of the page.

Professional Experience

In functional resumes, the professional experience section showcases your experience without prominent display. This shifts the focus on the skills and other qualifications you have for the position.

To conceal your missing work experiences:

Label your period of unemployment

You may have been unemployed for legitimate reasons like being a parent or doing an independent study or being a full-time student. You may describe yourself in the following ways to label your period of unemployment:

  • Full-Time Student
  • Independent Study
  • Full-Time Parent
  • Family Management
  • Adventure Travel
  • Personal Travel

You must always demonstrate on your functional resume that you were doing something during your gaps in employment. Refrain from explaining them as a result of:

  • Rehabilitation, or
  • Recession

Refrain from specific dates

In the functional resume examples you might notice minimal mention of the periods of employment. This creates the impression that even if you were unemployed during the middle of the year 2010, it appears as though you have been consistently working.

This is an acceptable way of “fudging” in functional resumes.


Drafting the education section of functional resume is similar to reverse chronological format resume.

  • Include the name of the university along with the location
  • Name of the course along with the GPA
  • Date of enrollment and graduation

However, if your educational experience corresponds to the job you are applying for then you must mention the skills you have acquired in due process.

In case your degree is not relevant to your field, keep this section short. You may also consider changing the headline to "Training and Education" to incorporate more volume of relevant skills.

Functional Resume Format Template Sample

An example of a free functional resume sample template is attached for a better understanding of how you can proceed with writing your resume.


Tips for Crafting a Functional Resume

  • Employ professional or sans-serif fonts such as, Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet MS, Century Gothic, Calibri, Lucida Sans, Tahoma, etc. over serif fonts
  • Maintain the font size larger than 10 pts. but smaller than 12 pts. for the section points
  • Maintain the font size larger than 12 pts. but smaller than 14 pts. for the section headings
  • Stick to the same date format. The standard date format in functional resumes is (mm/yy)
  • Follow the current trends. Resume examples 2019 may differ from resume examples 2022
  • Refrain from cramming your resume with gimmicky graphics
  • Leave more white space for your recruiters to have a comfortable read
  • Do not include pictures in your functional resumes
  • Do not try to fit every important information on a one-page resume. Do not, however, exclude key details about your career

Functional Resume or Chronological Resume: Which Should You Use?

Pros & cons of using a Reverse Chronological Resumes

Pros of using a reverse chronological resume

  • It provides a clear view of your career trajectory
  • This format is widely accepted by recruiters
  • It works in your favor if you have an extensive work history related to your targeted job

Cons of using a reverse chronological format

  • It highlights your career gaps in your resume
  • Showcases unrelated work to your targeted job

Pros & Cons of Using Functional Resumes

Pros of using a functional resume format

  • It helps in hiding career gaps in employment history
  • It is advantageous for fresher who have no work experience
  • It is the best choice for professionals changing their career trajectory

Cons of using a functional resume format

  • It send a message to the recruiters that you are hiding something
  • It is not ATS compliant
  • It doesn't cover your entire work history

Why do Recruiters Dislike this Format?

Recruiters usually skip to the work history to figure out what you might be hiding. In the process, if you manage to impress with your skills, you are good to go.

  • Within the context of skills and accomplishments, it gives you a better opportunity to make yourself stand out despite having significant experiences.
  • Recruiters are familiar with that fact that the functional resume format covers gaps in the applicant’s experience.

Use with Caution

Although a functional resume might sound like it could suit your situation yet you must be conscious of the few drawbacks to this approach.

Excluding the dates or titles can raise the recruiter's suspicions that you might be trying to hide something.

It can be frustrating for recruiters to figure out where you performed a particular accomplishment.

So carefully evaluate your situation, weigh the pros and cons and if you consider the functional resume template an the advantage which outweighs the drawbacks you may go ahead with it. The skills-based resume could present you in the best light.

Key Takeaways

  • It is critical to choose the best resume format for the job application. The best best format should ideally employ all the necessary keywords.
  • Picking a proper format ensures focusing on either of the two - your skills or your career progression
  • Make sure that your resume format do not make your recruiters suspicious of your achievements.
  • Your resume format should address two points - how well you can you do the job and If you the company can work with you?
  • Opt for a functional resume template if you have frequently changed jobs or have gaps in their work history
  • Quantify your work experiences with your achievements using the Cause Effect formula
  • Write a strong skills section and boast any certifications or awards you have received

Hiration does not recommend the use of functional resumes.

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