Everything You Need to Know About Functional Resumes

What Does a Functional Resume Highlight? A Comprehensive Guide for 2024

Are you considering using a functional resume for your next job search? With the ever-changing job market and increasing competition, it‘s crucial to have a resume that effectively showcases your skills and experience. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll delve into what a functional resume highlights, when it‘s best to use one, and how to create a compelling functional resume that will grab the attention of hiring managers in 2024.

What is a Functional Resume?

A functional resume, also known as a skills-based resume, focuses on highlighting your skills, abilities, and accomplishments rather than providing a chronological listing of your work history. Unlike a traditional chronological resume, a functional resume groups your qualifications into categories, such as "Leadership Skills" or "Marketing Expertise."

The primary purpose of a functional resume is to demonstrate your qualifications for a specific role, emphasizing the skills and experiences that align with the job requirements. This format is particularly useful for job seekers who are changing careers, have gaps in their employment history, or have a diverse background that doesn‘t fit neatly into a traditional resume format.

When to Use a Functional Resume

  1. Career Changes
    If you‘re making a significant career change, a functional resume can help you focus on transferable skills and relevant experiences that may not be apparent in a chronological format. By grouping your skills into categories, you can demonstrate how your abilities align with the requirements of your target role, even if you don‘t have direct experience in that field.

  2. Employment Gaps
    Functional resumes can be beneficial for job seekers with gaps in their employment history. By focusing on your skills and accomplishments, you can downplay the significance of employment gaps and showcase your value to potential employers. However, be prepared to address any gaps during the interview process.

  3. Limited or Unrelated Work History
    If you have limited work experience or a background that doesn‘t directly relate to your target job, a functional resume can help you highlight your relevant skills and qualifications. This format allows you to focus on volunteer work, internships, academic projects, and other experiences that demonstrate your capabilities.

Elements of a Functional Resume

  1. Contact Information
    Start your functional resume with your name, phone number, email address, and location (city and state). Ensure that your email address is professional and that your contact information is up to date.

  2. Resume Summary or Objective
    Include a brief summary or objective statement that highlights your key qualifications and career goals. This section should be tailored to the specific job you‘re applying for and showcase your unique value proposition.

  3. Skills Summary
    The skills summary is the core of your functional resume. Organize your skills into categories that align with the requirements of your target role. For each category, list your relevant skills and provide examples or achievements that demonstrate your proficiency. Use bullet points and action verbs to make this section easy to read and impactful.

  4. Work Experience
    In a functional resume, the work experience section is typically shorter than in a chronological resume. List your previous employers, job titles, and dates of employment, but don‘t include detailed descriptions of your responsibilities. If you have notable achievements from a particular role, you can mention them briefly.

  5. Education
    Include your educational background, listing your degrees, certifications, and relevant coursework. If you have recently graduated or are making a career change, consider placing your education section above your work experience.

How to Write a Functional Resume

  1. Choose Relevant Skills to Highlight
    Review the job description carefully and identify the key skills and qualifications the employer is seeking. Choose skills from your background that align with these requirements and organize them into categories.

  2. Quantify Your Accomplishments
    Whenever possible, quantify your achievements using metrics, percentages, or other concrete examples. This helps hiring managers understand the impact you‘ve made in previous roles and demonstrates your potential value to their organization.

  3. Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description
    Customize your functional resume for each job application, emphasizing the skills and experiences that are most relevant to that specific role. Use keywords from the job description throughout your resume to optimize it for applicant tracking systems (ATS) and demonstrate your fit for the position.

  4. Keep It Concise and Skimmable
    While a functional resume allows you to highlight your skills more extensively, it‘s essential to keep your document concise and easy to read. Use clear, succinct language and bullet points to break up text. Aim for a resume length of one to two pages, depending on your level of experience.

Pros and Cons of Functional Resumes


  • Focuses on your skills and accomplishments, rather than your chronological work history
  • Minimizes the impact of employment gaps or limited experience
  • Allows you to highlight transferable skills when changing careers
  • Provides flexibility in organizing your qualifications


  • Can raise red flags for employers who prefer traditional chronological resumes
  • May not be compatible with applicant tracking systems (ATS) that rely on chronological data parsing
  • Requires careful framing to avoid appearing as though you‘re hiding something

Functional Resume Examples

  1. Career Change
    [Insert example of a functional resume for a career change, highlighting transferable skills]

  2. Employment Gap
    [Insert example of a functional resume that minimizes the impact of an employment gap]

  3. Limited Experience
    [Insert example of a functional resume for a recent graduate or entry-level candidate]

Adapting Functional Resumes for Applicant Tracking Systems

While functional resumes can be effective for human readers, they may not always be compatible with applicant tracking systems (ATS) that rely on parsing chronological data. To improve your chances of passing through an ATS, consider the following tips:

  • Use standard section headings like "Skills" and "Work Experience"
  • Include a brief work history section with dates of employment
  • Incorporate relevant keywords from the job description throughout your resume
  • Use a straightforward, ATS-friendly format without graphics or complex layouts

Functional Resume Alternatives

If a functional resume doesn‘t seem like the right fit for your situation, consider these alternatives:

  1. Combination Resume
    A combination resume blends elements of both functional and chronological formats. It typically starts with a summary of qualifications and skills categories, followed by a more detailed work history section. This format allows you to highlight your relevant skills while still providing a clear career progression.

  2. Skills-Based Resume
    Similar to a functional resume, a skills-based resume focuses on your abilities and accomplishments. However, instead of grouping skills into categories, it lists them individually, followed by bullet points that provide examples of how you‘ve applied each skill in previous roles.

Frequently Asked Questions about Functional Resumes

  1. Do functional resumes work?
    Functional resumes can be effective in certain situations, such as career changes or employment gaps. However, they may not be the best choice for all job seekers, as some employers prefer traditional chronological formats.

  2. Can you combine functional and chronological formats?
    Yes, a combination resume that blends elements of both functional and chronological formats can be a good compromise for job seekers who want to highlight their skills while still providing a clear work history.

  3. How long should a functional resume be?
    A functional resume should typically be one to two pages in length, depending on your level of experience and the requirements of the job you‘re applying for. Keep your document concise and focused on your most relevant qualifications.


In the competitive job market of 2024, a well-crafted functional resume can be a powerful tool for showcasing your skills and experience. By focusing on your abilities and accomplishments rather than your chronological work history, you can demonstrate your value to potential employers, even if you‘re changing careers or have gaps in your employment history.

When creating a functional resume, be sure to tailor your skills categories to the specific requirements of your target role, quantify your achievements, and keep your document concise and skimmable. While functional resumes have their pros and cons, they can be an effective choice for job seekers in certain situations.

By following the tips and examples provided in this comprehensive guide, you‘ll be well-equipped to create a compelling functional resume that highlights your unique qualifications and helps you stand out in the job search process of 2024.