Resumes are usually the first impression you will make on a recruiter or a hiring manager, and you may be asking yourself: How can I make it count?
One of the best ways to make a good impression is to use the right format in your resume. While many resumes use the chronological order structure, there are other formats you can use, like the functional structure.
In this article, we’re going to discuss what functional resumes are, who should use the functional resume approach, and how a functional resume is structured.
What is a Functional Resume?
The goal of any resume is to highlight your experience and qualifications for a job. In a functional resume, the focus is on your skills and experience as opposed to your work history.
The main difference between a functional resume and a chronological resume is that you will list your skills more prominently on your resume. Functional resumes highlight the actual skills you have acquired and often include examples of how you have used a particular skill.
Who Should Use a Functional Resume?
There are three types of people who can benefit from using a functional resume.
First, if you have gaps between jobs, you may want to use a functional resume. This is because functional resumes put an emphasis on skills and don’t require you to create a complete timeline between your past work experiences.
Second, if you are still starting in your career, functional resumes can be useful. Focusing more on your skills and how you have used them is a good way to demonstrate your value to an employer because you may lack work experience.
Third, functional resumes are useful for people who are switching careers. When you are writing a resume as a career changer, you may have no relevant experience to list. So to impress an employer, you may want to put more of an emphasis on your soft skills, such as organization and management, to help them learn more about what qualifies you for a job.
The most popular resume structure used today is the chronological resume, which lists your work experience in order of most recent to least recent. Some resumes use the combination structure, which highlights skills and then work experience. But, if you meet one of the above three profiles, a functional resume may be best for you.
How to Write a Functional Resume
If you’ve decided that a functional resume makes sense for you, you’re ready to start writing one. Here is the structure you should follow to write a functional resume:
Section #1: Contact Information
The first section in any resume should be your contact information. State your full name, email address, phone number, and any other relevant information you feel an employer should have about you.
An employer will likely already have some of this on-file, as you will have been asked for your name and email in the application process. However, providing it on your resume makes it easier for an employer to reach out to you. This may increase the likelihood of their contacting you to schedule an interview.
Section #2: Summary
While writing a summary is optional, it is a good way to highlight the main skills and experiences that you think qualify you for a position. In your summary, you should mention what skills are relevant to the job for which you are applying and any experience you have related to the job.
Section #3: Skills
The next section in a functional resume is the skills section. This is where you will talk about the specific skills you have acquired.
To help you decide what skills to mention, you should read over the job description and look out for any keywords. For instance, if a job description mentions “creative thinking” as a core skill needed to do the job, you may want to list it on your resume if you possess this skill.
Ideally, you should list four or five main skills on your resume. Then, you should back up each of these skills with a few examples. Try to provide examples relevant to the position because doing so will make it easier for an employer to evaluate whether your experience qualifies you for a job.
It can also be helpful to mention statistics when discussing your skills. This allows you to show a recruiter or a hiring manager what skills you have, rather than just tell them.
Section #4: Work Experience
Once you have discussed your skills, you should list your work experience, especially any positions relevant to the job for which you are applying.
In a functional resume, your work experience section will likely be shorter than it would be if you used another structure. This is because the emphasis in a functional resume is on skills, not work experience.
Make a list of the companies for which you have worked, and include one or two goals you reached in each position. You should avoid mentioning the dates at which you worked in a position if you have gaps between jobs that you don’t want to expose.
Section #5: Education
The final section on your functional resume should be your educational history. This section should list all the main educational experiences relevant to the job.
If you graduated from college, you’ll want to list that on your resume; if you are a high school graduate, you will want to list where you attended high school.
In this section, you may also opt to discuss any courses you have taken that are related to the position you’re applying for. For instance, if you participated in a leadership course in your last job, you should mention it on your resume.
Functional Resume Example
If you have never written a functional resume before, you may be looking for an example that can help guide you. Below is an example of a functional resume that you can use as inspiration when writing your resume.
123 Main Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Retail assistant with over two years of experience providing friendly assistance to customers in the electronics department of a superstore. Passionate about helping strangers and resolving customer pain points.
Provided a high quality of customer service to people who visited our store. Assisted customers in finding products that met their needs, understanding the technical specifics behind different products, and comparing technologies. Helped boost store electronics sales by 10% in one quarter after taking lead of a technology assistance help desk.
Helped customers resolve technical problems and issues navigating the store. Provided hands-on assistance on how to use new technologies, resolved help desk support tickets, and processed the returns for faulty or damaged technology.
Worked to identify customer needs and find the products that met those needs. Used communication skills to coordinate the technology sales team and ensure that all customers were being attended to in a timely manner. Hosted a daily standup for technology sales associated which helped boost sales in the technology department by 5% each quarter.
Retail Assistant: Resolved customer inquiries, advised customers on technology to purchase, helped improve sales processes for new technologies.
Retail Assistant: Greeted customers with a helpful attitude, answered questions regarding inventory sales and promotions, offered ideas to increase product appeal.
Greenwood High School, 2012-2017
While the functional resume format may not be as common as chronological resumes, if you lack experience, have gaps in your resume, or are changing careers, using a functional resume can be a great way to show your skills.
Functional resumes focus on the specific skills you have acquired that qualify you for a job, rather than your past work experience. Functional resumes include a few examples of how you used a particular skill, which helps an employer better evaluate whether you are the right fit for a given position.
By following the tips in this guide, you’ll have no trouble writing a functional resume that catches the attention of an employer. Soon enough, you’ll be called in for an interview to discuss your skills and experience!
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