What Is a Functional Resume?

Image by Maddy Price © The Balance 2019 

What is a functional resume, and when should you use one to apply for jobs? A functional resume focuses on your skills and experience, rather than on your chronological work history. It is typically used by job seekers who are changing careers, who have gaps in their employment history, or whose work history is not directly related to the job. In this way, specific skills and capabilities are emphasized to highlight the job seeker's abilities. 

This is different from a traditional, chronological resume that displays a timeline of reverse work experience with brief explanations of each job. As a result, the focus is shifted from job titles and the amount of time that has passed to the actual skills the applicant possesses.

Is a Functional Resume Right for You? 

Job searchers have lots of choices when it comes to creating their resume. Since a functional resume focuses on skills over dates, it's ideal for candidates who have gaps between jobs, are early in their career (or have only internship-based experience), or are making a career switch

A functional resume is less commonly used than a chronological resume, which lists a candidate's work history, beginning with the most recently held position. Recruiters and interviewers prefer this format, so if you do not have a reason for using a functional resume, opt for a chronological one. One other option is the combination resume, which offers the best of both worlds. On a combination resume, your skills are highlighted first and then followed by your work history. 

Tips for Writing a Functional Resume

Consider a resume summary. Consider including a resume summary at the beginning of your resume that focuses on the skills you have that are relevant to the job. This is a great way to shape the way the employer sees you (and your resume) at first glance.

Organize by theme. When writing a functional resume, organize your resume by themes, rather than simply listing your jobs in reverse chronological order. These themes might be skills or qualifications listed in the resume (for example, “Recruiting Experience” and “Customer Service Experience”). By grouping your skills together, the employer can more easily see that you have the right skills for the job, even if your work history is less than stellar (or less related to the job at hand).

Use keywords. Be sure to use keywords from the job description in your resume. You might use these keywords as the titles for your subheadings, or in the bulleted lists where you describe your skills and accomplishments in more detail. This will help the employer see that your abilities match well with the job requirements.

Mention relevant projects. Also remember to include any projects – personal or professional – that are related to the job. Projects demonstrate your success in developing and completing tasks.

Still include employment history. No matter what, you will likely still need to include employment history. Include this at the bottom of your resume, so that the employer will focus more on your skills rather than your work history.

Write a strong cover letter. Include a strong cover letter to go with your resume. Use this cover letter to expand on the skills and abilities you have that make you a strong candidate for the position. This will help lessen any concerns the employer might have about your work history.

Functional Resume Example

This is an example of a functional resume. Download the resume template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Screenshot of a functional resume sample
©TheBalance 2018 

Functional Resume Example (Text Version)

Jose Applicant
321 Jackson Street
San Jose, CA 55555
(123) 456-7890


Successful track record in the blood-banking care environment

Results-oriented, high-energy, hands-on professional with skills in management, quality assurance, program development, training, and customer service.

Key skills include:

  • Blood banking
  • Quality assurance
  • AABB accreditation
  • Compliant with FDA cGMP



  • Facilitated educational projects from 2016-2018 for Northern California blood centers.


  • Assisted team members in veni-punctures, donor reaction care, and providing licensed staffing to extend their duties by managing the blood services regulations documentation (BSDs) while assigned to the self-contained blood mobile unit (SCU).


  • Provided daily operational review/quality control of education accountability as it relates to imposed government regulatory requirements in a medical environment.


  • Successfully supervised contract support for six AT&T Broadband systems located in the Bay Area prior to a career in phlebotomy. Managed scheduling, quality control, payroll, special projects, and evaluations to ensure proper end-of-line and demarcation signal.
  • Reduced employee turnover, introduced two-way communication to field employees, enhanced employee appearance, and spearheaded the expansion of employee (health) benefits.


  • Chief point of contact for the AT&T telephone and the ABC-affiliated TV stations as related to complaints and diagnosing communication problems either at the site or remote broadcasting.



  • Associate of Applied Science in EKG-Phlebotomy, 2014