Functional Resumes: Tips, Steps, Sample and Advantages

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 13 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Functional resumes emphasise a job candidate's professional skills. They are great options for those who are applying for a position and who lack extensive, recent or relevant work experience. Writing a functional resume with the right format can help you impress potential employers and convey you are an excellent candidate for a job. In this article, we discuss how to write a functional resume, why it is beneficial and when to use one in your career.

What Are Functional Resumes?

Functional resumes, also known as skill-based resumes, are documents that highlight a job candidate's skill set rather than their employment experience. While regular resumes typically feature a list of a candidate's previous roles in reverse-chronological order, functional resumes accentuate a candidate's abilities and credentials that qualify them for the job opening. It is generally best practice to adhere to the traditional resume format, but it can be necessary to submit a functional resume under certain circumstances.

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing

How To Write A Functional Resume

Here are some basic steps you can follow to create a great functional resume:

1. Create your header

In many professional documents, especially resumes, it is important to have a header with your full name in clear, bold letters. This enables employers and hiring managers to identify and keep track of your application package easily. Under your header, include your contact information, like your professional email address and phone number. You can also include your physical address, professional social profiles and website address if you have one. This ensures the reader of your resume can communicate with you if they want to ask you questions or set up an interview.

2. Add a summary section

Next, write a concise, two to five sentence summary of your professional background to feature at the top of your resume. This can help you introduce yourself to the reader of your resume and provide valuable context to your application. In this section, outline your most impressive and relevant skills and accomplishments. Use metrics or numbers to describe them, if you can. Make sure they fit the job description and explain why you are an excellent choice for the position.

Read more: How To Write a Resume Summary (With 30 Examples)

3. List your skills

The most important part of a functional resume is the skills section, as it can show your most compelling qualifications for a role. Even if you are new to the career field or you have been unemployed for a while, you might have many unique abilities you can feature on your resume to stand out to potential employers. Write two to four types or categories of skills, based on the requirements of the job opening. For example, you may include categories such as:

  • Sales skills

  • Marketing skills

  • Communication skills

  • Leadership skills

  • Technical skills

  • Computer skills

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Research skills

  • Organisational skills

Under each skill category, include three to five bullets describing the ways you have used that skill to accomplish actual, measurable results. You can explain your achievements in various settings, such as previous jobs, volunteer positions or extra-curricular activities. Use numbers to characterise the specific, positive impacts you have made throughout your professional, academic or personal life.

4. Include any work experience you have

Although you may have gaps in your employment experience, including your previous job information can help employers get to know you. It is especially important to mention jobs you have had that are similar to the position for which you are applying. Below your skills section for each of your previous positions, list the job title, company name and dates you worked there. In addition, write one to three sentences or bullets about your duties and accomplishments for each role.

5. Mention your educational background

At the bottom of your resume, mention your educational background. This includes the highest level of education you have completed, whether it is a high school diploma or GED, undergraduate degree or an even higher credential. If you have not graduated high school but are planning to, you might mention your planned graduation date. Include the name of the educational institution, your area of study, if applicable, and the month and year you graduated. You can also include any special academic awards or honours you have achieved.

Related: 10 Resume Writing Tips To Help You Land A Job

Tips For Creating A Functional Resume

Here are some important tips for preparing your functional resume:

  • Study the job description: Read and take notes on the description and requirements of the position for which you are applying. Using keywords from the job description in your resume can help show your employer you are a great fit for the role.

  • Use strong skill categories: When constructing your skill section, use categories or themes that are impressive and relevant to the role. For example, if you are applying to a computer science position, consider including a "Technical skills" section where you list your experience with programming languages and other software.

  • Use numbers: Try to use metrics whenever you can to describe your previous accomplishments specifically. In addition, when you get a job, find ways to track your performance so you can update your resume over time.

  • Perfect your professional summary: It is a good idea to put a lot of effort into your professional summary, as it is one of the first sections a hiring manager sees on your resume. Having a powerful, well-written summary can capture the attention of a potential employer and help your application stand out from others.

  • Use action verbs: When describing your skills and previous experiences, use strong action verbs to characterise your background in an engaging way. For example, instead of writing "Made," you might write "Developed," or instead of writing "Led," you could write, "Coordinated."

  • Proofread: Proofread and revise your functional resume to ensure it is error-free and professional. Reading it out loud or having a friend read it over are both helpful ways to find grammatical or other writing issues.

Related: Action Verbs List for Resumes and Cover Letters

Functional Resume Sample

Here is a sample of a functional resume that may help you write your own:

Rahul Rehana



Driven and creative marketing professional dedicated to creating quality content for businesses. Proven history in improving engagement and conversion rates through advertising strategies. In a previous role at a coffee shop, developed 10 original content posts and increased social media traffic by 10%.


Social media marketing

  • Proficient in several social media applications, including Instagram and Facebook

  • Expert in photo and video editing applications like VSCO and iMovie

  • Skilled in using data analytics to measure engagement and traffic rates


  • Awarded "Creative Culture" from the Institute of Contemporary Art for excellent performance in art courses

  • Earned two certificates for completing courses in ceramics and printmaking

  • Updated the logo and advertisement media of a previous company


Food service employee, Sun Cafe

January 2019 - Present

Served over 100 customers per shift and updated the shops social media presence


Arjun Secondary School, Madras, 2008–2012

Advantages Of Functional Resumes

Functional resumes can help you communicate your most remarkable abilities to potential employers. While work experience is informative, your skills can sometimes be better evidence of your capacity to complete tasks quickly and accurately. For certain positions, your qualities and enthusiasm to succeed may be more important than your knowledge base.

When to use a functional resume

If you can, it is best to try to write a regular resume before building a functional resume. However, in certain circumstances, a functional resume may be right for you. Here are some of the various situations where functional resumes may be suitable:

An employer requirement

In some situations, employers may require candidates to submit a functional resume to apply for a job. This may occur for positions that require specific, complex skill sets, such as those in the information technology, data, science or engineering sector. A hiring manager may want to make sure employees have particular technical abilities before spending time considering them for a role.

A career change

Functional resumes can be extremely helpful if you are switching to a new career field. This is because you may not yet have much relevant work experience applicable to the job for which you are applying. In a functional resume, you can highlight any transferable skills and relevant experiences you have rather than discussing information about your experience in a completely unrelated field.

A large gap in your employment history

If you have a significant gap in your professional timeline, it may be tough to write a traditional resume. However, in a functional resume, you can focus on highlighting the ways you can benefit an organisation. Keeping your resume positive and professional can show an employer your ability to overcome challenges.

A lack of employment experience

If you are new to the career field, a functional resume may be perfect for you. For example, a high school student with little to no job experience may want to emphasise the skills they have learned in school or extra-curricular activities. You can also mention skills you have learned in your free time or online to supplement your resume.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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