A Functional Resume or Skills Resume is designed to highlight your skills and accomplishments at the top of your resume instead of grouping them under the jobs or positions that you have held as in a chronological resume. It emphasizes your qualifications and skills instead of your employment history.
Who Uses a Functional Resume?
A functional resume is commonly used be a person changing careers, where the employment history may not be as important as the skills and accomplishments that will qualify the individual for the new career.
Functional resumes may also be useful for a person entering the workforce after a long absence, students, military officers, or someone with a spotty career (meaning that they've had multiple periods of unemployment, bounced around a lot, or worked in many unrelated jobs).
Functional Resume Template
Our free resume template for Microsoft Word can be used to create a functional resume. It is just a matter of moving or renaming some of the section headings.
What is Unique about a Functional Resume?
There are many different types of functional resumes and the line between a chronological resume and functional resume may be fuzzy. A cross between these two types of resumes is usually called a combination resume.
A chronological resume might include a Summary of Qualifications and Skills and Accomplishments sections at the top just like a Functional Resume. But, the more you move skills, projects, and accomplishments from your work history into these sections, the more "functional" your resume becomes.
In a functional resume, your Work Experience section may become simply an Employment history where you list the jobs you've had, but without descriptions.
A functional resume might include a Functional Summary section at the top, possibly below the Objective. A functional summary is a sentence that gives an overview of your experience. This specific section heading is unique to functional resumes, but a "functional resume" does not require the use of a functional summary.
Example Functional Summary: Senior Level Technical Manager with 15 years of Management Experience, 10 years as Technical Staff in the Auto Industry, and a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, consider using the Summary of Qualifications section in place of the so-called "functional summary". By definition, they are almost exactly the same thing, but it may be more clear to the reader what to expect if they see the phrase "Summary of Qualifications".
Disadvantages of a Functional Resume
The hiring manager may not be able to tell when or where you learned various skills, or who you worked for when you "Reduced operating costs by $100,000 per year."
One way to help avoid this is to mention the employer when you list major achievements such as "Reduced operating costs at ABC Company by $100,000 per year." Or, you could group your accomplishments according to the positions that you held instead of by topic.
Sample Functional Resume
The table below shows outlines for a couple functional resume examples. Example 2 uses a section titled "Summary" instead of "Functional Summary". It could also be labeled "Career Summary". In Example 1, skills are categorized by skill type while in Example 2, skills are listed under the type of position held.
SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS
SKILLS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- Management Skills
- Professional Skills
- Interpersonal and Teamwork Skills
- Computer Skills
- Senior Manager
- Team Leader
- Technical Staff
- Graduate Student
More Functional Resume Examples
The sample functional resumes below can be viewed using Adobe Reader.
Sample Functional Resume (PDF) at writing.colostate.edu - This is actually a very nice resume. You'll notice that the first heading is "Career Summary", which is clearer than "Functional Summary"
Sample Skills Resume (PDF) at writing.colostate.edu - There is very little difference, if any, between a "Functional" resume and a "Skills" resume. In this particular example, I don't really care for the long paragraph-style summary. This resume is not very skimmable. In the "Design" section, the action verb Designed is overused (could try created, invented, produced, developed, etc).