Writing Functional Resume

A functional resume, also known as a “skills” resume, is used to highlight the applicant’s skills, achievements, and experience, as opposed to emphasizing specific work and education history. Functional resumes are designed to showcase the candidate’s strengths while downplaying his or her weaknesses.

Who Uses Functional Resumes?

Functional resumes are popular among:

  • Recent college graduates
  • Applicants with unexplained gaps in employment history
  • Individuals who are transferring to a new industry or line of work
  • People with outdated or irrelevant qualifications
  • Applicants who have worked in many unrelated career fields

Do Employers Like Functional Resumes?

While many employers prefer chronological resumes, functional resumes are widely accepted for entry-level positions or jobs with few specific qualifications.

Why Should I Choose A Functional Resume?

If you lack the specific experience, education, or training required for a particular occupation, a functional resume will allow you to minimize your shortcomings while highlighting your benefits to the employer.

Writing Functional ResumeCreating a chronological resume for a position that you lack experience for is likely to result in your resume being deleted or discarded. The functional resume lets you create a better first impression.

How Do I Write a Functional Resume?

Writing a functional resume is very similar to writing a traditional resume, you simply focus on different elements first.

Step 1: Identify your skills

Skills fall into two categories: functional and career-specific, also known as soft and hard skills. Functional or soft skills are those skills that can easily be transferred from one position or industry to another. Functional skills are also known as cross-career skills.

These skills are obtained from all of your work and life experiences. For example:

  • Communication skills
  • Initiative
  • Leadership skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Enthusiasm
  • Attention to detail
  • Positive attitude

Career specific or hard skills, on the other hand, are skills that are learned through specific education and work experience. These skills are directly related to a specific position or industry, and are sometimes listed in the qualifications section of a job description.

Examples of career-specific skills include:

  • Nursing, engineering, teaching, accounting, dentistry, etc.
  • Advanced software, machinery, or program knowledge
  • Specific procedures
  • Other exact knowledge gained as a result of specific experience, education, or training

If you lack formal education, training, or work experience in a given field, you may be short on career-specific skills. Fortunately, most employers want to see a combination of both career specific and functional skills.

Step 2: Make your skills standout with action verbs, power words, and statements of fact

Once you’ve identified your skills and classified them as functional or career specific, begin focusing on your achievements in each position. The functional resume format is not a bulleted list of knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Your skills and achievements will be presented in short resume sentences designed to persuade the employer that you are the right person for the job.

The best way to bring your skills to life is to show, not tell.

Even though a functional resume does not detail the specifics of your work history, you can still emphasize achievements at each position. Think of specific facts or evidence that demonstrate your ability to excel on the job. These statements of fact will help bring your resume to life.

For example:

  • Implemented semi-annual audits and made suggestions resulting in a 2.5 percent drop in costs
  • Decreased Internet marketing costs by 10% through improved pay per click campaign strategies
  • Successfully lead sales team to exceed corporate sales quotas for 7 consecutive years
  • Demonstrated exceptional customer service skills that resulted in 2 “Employee of the Year” awards
  • Resolved an emergency crisis with the firm’s biggest client, which led to an executive-level promotion

You should also use resume writing power words to boost your resume’s star power and show the employer that you are the right person for the job.
For example:

  • Achieve
  • Administer
  • Budget
  • Collaborate
  • Compose
  • Develop
  • Devise
  • Eliminate
  • Exceed
  • Forecast
  • Generate
  • Illuminate
  • Identify
  • Launch
  • Maintain
  • Negotiate
  • Obtain
  • Oversee
  • Publicize
  • Recruit
  • Review
  • Simplify
  • Solve
  • Thrive
  • Utilize
  • Validate

Step 3: Fill in brief employment history

The fact that a functional resume highlights your skills doesn’t mean all other information is excluded. Once you’re satisfied with your statements of knowledge, skills, and abilities, add in information about your employment history.

In general, you should include job titles and a brief summary of achievements in each position. The job title does not have to be the specific title assigned by your previous employer, but can reflect a summary of your responsibilities in that position.

In a functional resume, you are not required to list employment dates or even employer names, although you certainly can include this information if desired.