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Functional Resume

What is a functional resume?

A functional resume is a type of resume format that prioritizes skills and accomplishments over work experience. Rather than listing your jobs and the duties associated with each one like you do in a traditional resume, a functional resume groups duties and skills by category–technical skills, customer service skills, etc. Work history is formatted as a simple list and takes a lower position on the page. 

A functional resume is useful for calling the hiring manager’s attention to your relevant experience even when the job titles you’ve held are in a different field or are unrelated to the one you’re applying for. It’s a useful format for new grads who don’t have much work experience to showcase. 

Note that a functional resume is not the preferred format of most hiring managers. Since it follows a different structure than the traditional resume, it takes more time to scan and can require more work on the reader’s part to find the information they’re looking for. So, this format should be viewed as a secondary choice to other, more widely accepted formats. 

Who should use a functional resume?

  • Recent graduates with limited work experience
  • People who are switching careers or re-entering the job market
  • Applicants who want to downplay job hopping
  • Candidates looking to emphasize relevant experience over job titles

Who shouldn’t use this type of resume?

  • People with a solid career progression
  • Candidates in fields with rigid application requirements, like public-sector jobs
  • Most job seekers, as it’s not the preferred format of hiring managers

Functional resume format and key components

A functional resume contains some of the same components as a traditional resume, like contact information and a summary (which is optional). In a functional resume, however, skills and experiences are featured more prominently than work history, which appears lower on the page or even at the bottom. 

Sample functional resume including contact information, objective, skills, employment, and certifications

Here are the main resume components in a functional resume:

  1. Contact information
    Provide hiring managers and recruiters with the best method to get in touch with you. Be sure your email address is something professional, preferably including your full name or first initial and last name. It’s best to use an email provider everyone’s familiar with, like Gmail.
  2. Objective or summary
    This optional section gives an overview of your professional credentials. If you’re using a functional resume because you’re entering the job market for the first time or switching career paths, this is a good place to provide a little more background information.
  3. Various skills or abilities section
    This is the predominant focus of a functional resume. It might be a single section or several sections broken into different categories. These should be customized depending on the candidate and the types of things they want to emphasize. Our sample resume uses two abilities sections: technical experience and management experience, which makes sense since the candidate is an IT project manager. 
  4. Employment history
    In a functional resume, the employment section is concise. Jobs–with the position title, company, and employment dates–are formatted in a list in reverse chronological order.
  5. Education and certifications
    Include the degree you obtained and the name of the school, as well as any relevant professional credentials. The position of this section can be moved up or down depending on what you want to highlight.