What Is a Functional Resume?

Definition & Examples of Functional Resumes

functional resume

Maddy Price / The Balance

A functional resume focuses on skills and experience rather than on your chronological work history. It's typically used by job seekers who are changing careers or who have gaps in their employment history.

Learn more about functional resumes and how to develop one.

What Is a Functional Resume? 

A functional resume showcases an applicant's skills. It may start with a summary of qualifications followed by a list of a candidate's skills and examples of using those skills.

For example, you might list "Leadership" as a skill, then follow that with examples of when you've shown leadership. For example, you might say, "Managed the sales department of five staff members. Increased sales by 25% in six months."

This is different from a traditional, chronological resume that displays a timeline of your 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 you possess.

Another resume option is a combination resume, which uses a chronological format but highlights the skills you showed in each position.

How a Functional Resume Works

A functional resume draws attention away from items that a hiring manager might find problematic. It de-emphasizes gaps in your work history or the fact that you're making a significant career change.

A functional resume is less commonly used than a chronological resume, which recruiters and interviewers generally prefer. If you don't have a reason for using a functional resume, opt for a chronological one. Additionally, some applicant tracking software programs reject resumes without a chronological work history.

Writing a Functional Resume

Here's how to approach writing a functional resume:

  • Start with a resume summary: Consider including a resume summary at the beginning of your resume, which is a brief statement that highlights your most relevant qualifications. This sets the tone for how the employer sees you (and your resume) right from the start.
  • Organize by theme: When writing a functional resume, use themes like skills or qualifications. For example, you might group skills under “Recruiting Experience” or “Customer Service Experience.” By grouping your skills together, the employer can more easily see whether you have the right skills for the job, even if your work history isn't directly related to the position.
  • Use keywords: Use keywords from the job description in your resume. Keywords are words or phrases that relate to the job requirements, and you can use the job posting for a guide to which words to use. Use keywords as the titles for your subheadings or in the bulleted lists where you describe your skills and accomplishments in more detail.
  • Mention relevant projects: Include any personal or professional projects that are related to the job. Projects demonstrate your success in developing and completing tasks.
  • Include your employment history: Placing this section at the bottom of your resume helps the employer focus more on your skills than your work history.
  • Write a strong cover letter: Use your 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.

Example of a Functional Resume

This is an example of a functional resume. Download the resume template to develop your own resume.

functional resume sample
The Balance 2020

Functional Resume Example (Text Version)

Jose Applicant
321 Jackson Street
San Jose, CA 55555
(123) 456-7890
jose.applicant@email.com

PHLEBOTOMIST

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

PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS

EDUCATIONAL

  • Facilitated educational projects from 2018-2020 for Northern California blood centers.

PHLEBOTOMY

  • 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).

COMPLIANCE

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

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT AND SUPERVISION

  • 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.

TECHNOLOGY

  • 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.

EDUCATION & CREDENTIALS

SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY, San Jose, Calif.

  • Associate of Applied Science in EKG-Phlebotomy, 2017

Key Takeaways

  • A functional resume focuses on your skills and experience rather than on your chronological work history.
  • It may be a good fit for those with employment gaps or who are changing careers. 
  • On a functional resume, list your skills and specific examples of how you used those skills. 
  • Include your work experience at the end of the resume.

Article Sources

  1. Business News Daily. "How Do Functional Resumes Compare to Chronological Resumes?" Accessed June 28, 2020.

  2. CareerOneStop. "Select the Best Format." Accessed June 28, 2020.