Write a Functional Resume

Most resumes include a chronological list of your professional accomplishments. In some cases, though, you may be better off emphasizing skills and accomplishments in order of importance, rather than in order of occurrence. A functional resume does just that.


Sample Functional Resumes

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Writing Your Own Functional Resume

  1. Consider whether a functional resume will improve your chances of getting an interview, and thereby a job. A functional resume is any that emphasizes skills and abilities and de-emphasizes the chronology. This shift in focus may be helpful in the following situations:
    • You are changing careers or focus and you wish to feature skills and accomplishments that weren't central to recent jobs, such as older experience, volunteer experience, or skills developed outside of work.
    • You have an interruption in your work or your career has recently taken a detour
    • You can better customize your resume to the job you are seeking by de-emphasizing the chronology.
  2. Brainstorm. Write down skills and accomplishments. Don't worry at this stage which ones are relevant. You can sort and edit later. Don't forget anything that might help, including:
    • Volunteer experience.
    • Experience working in another country, industry, or job function.
    • Education, academic background, and on-the-job training.
    • Skills, especially computers and language skills.
    • Clubs and community affiliations.
    • Hobby, craft, and do-it-yourself know-how.
  3. Organize. What is the very best, most relevant selling point on your resume? Are you a computer whiz? Do you have an impressive degree? Do you have years of experience doing something related to the jobs you want? Give your strongest asset top billing. You might also subdivide your experience into groups; for instance general people skills and more concrete accomplishments.
  4. Arrange the resume by category, not by time. Rather than a section for each job, have a section for each sort of experience or skill you can offer. Computer skills, education, and experience are the obvious divisions.
    • When listing experience, begin each line with an active verb. It adds punch to the writing and gives the list a consistent tone and structure.
    • If you can, focus on problems you've solved and specific results you've achieved. Did you save somebody money? Did you accomplish something more than your job description?
    • The usual rules of resume writing still apply, only the result is shaped differently.
  5. Add a summary at the beginning. This is not the well-worn "Objective" bit about obtaining a full-time job. Instead, it is the best condensed version of your offerings you can write. Ideally, a busy recruiter or hiring manager should be able to tell whether it's worth reading more of your resume within about 20-40 seconds.
  6. Add a brief chronology of your work history at the end. They can be one-line descriptions, including simply the company, your title, and the year in which you worked there.


  • If you have a lot of items to list, consider making a master resume and paring it down according to each job you apply for.
  • Put your best foot forward. Decide what is your strongest selling point, whether it is your education, your computer skills, or certain experience.
  • Have somebody else read your resume carefully. A second pair of eyes can see you as others see you and can help to spot any errors you have missed.
  • Read job descriptions in your chosen field, especially anywhere you choose to apply, and match your resume to them.
  • Be prepared to discuss your employment history in an interview even if (or perhaps specifically because) you de-emphasized it. Resumes are for getting your foot in the door. Once you're there and have somebody's attention, you should be able to address a potential employer's possible concerns.


  • Writing a functional resume may make it look as if you have something to hide, even if your reasons for writing one are entirely above board. As long as you feel that the benefits outweigh the risks, go ahead and try it. You could even circulate different versions of your resume for different purposes.
  • While you should certainly feature your best accomplishments and present yourself in a positive light, never falsify or exaggerate a claim on a resume or employment application.

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