Do You Need a Functional Resume?

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When applying for a job, choosing the right resume or curriculum vitae (CV) format is essential for highlighting key qualifications for the position. As an alternative to a traditional resume that lists all your credentials and experience in order by time, a functional resume emphasizes specific abilities gained through your experience.


You can benefit from this type of resume especially if you've worked various jobs or you have employment gaps. To determine if it's right for you, learn about this resume format and who it is and is not suited for.

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What's a Functional Resume Like?

Compared to other types of resumes, the functional format is differentiated by how there's not much of an emphasis on when you gained your skills and experience. Instead, the focus lies on the abilities you have that can benefit an employer and qualify you for your intended role. To understand specifically what goes on and what stays off a functional resume, it helps to look at an example. Generally, you'll find the info arranged in these sections and often in this order:


  • A header with your name and contact info
  • A brief summary of your industry experience and skills or a specific career objective you have
  • Individual sections for each skill area with bullet points beneath highlighting relevant work achievements
  • An employment history section that simply lists job titles, employers and locations and may leave off employment dates entirely
  • An education section with each credential earned and any important achievements like awards received or your grades

You might have additional sections such as one listing your references, highlighting hobbies or volunteer work. Also, keep in mind you might rearrange sections to fit your needs – such as putting your education more prominently if you're a recent graduate.


Functional Resume Advantages and Disadvantages

The main advantages of a functional resume result from the de-emphasis on dates since there's more flexibility for when you might have a diverse work history, have taken extensive time off work or have experience through nontraditional work. When you're showcasing your skills and strengths, employers can focus more on your capabilities for the role rather than a timeline of past jobs. Excluding employment dates can also help avoid an emphasis on employment gaps or one's age during the recruiting process.


However, functional resume format comes with some disadvantages in that the lack of dates can turn off some employers as well as confuse the computer systems that scan resumes. For example, employers might feel confused about your work history or become concerned that you're trying to hide questionable items in your employment history. These resumes tend to be less readable as well both for hiring professionals trying to quickly scan your work history and applicant systems looking for relevant job keywords.

Consider also​: How to Attach a Resume to an Online Job Application


Who They're Best for

You might prefer to use a functional resume if you're flexible in the types of jobs that interest you and want to demonstrate transferable skills to potential employers. In that case, this resume format can suit you if you're not completely sure which career path you'd like to go down. At the same time, it's a good format when you've worked in unrelated roles, are interested in changing careers and want to organize your abilities in a way that's easy for employers to understand.


If you just finished college and don't have much work experience, a functional resume could suit you since you can focus on relevant skills gained through your education and informal experience rather than emphasize a lack of formal experience. Since a functional resume usually leaves off employment dates, you might also find it best if you were unemployed for some time and feel concerned the employment gap might discourage employers from considering you.

A functional resume isn't best when you've had a history of related and progressive roles and want to demonstrate how you've grown in your career over time. In this situation, consider a traditional resume instead that highlights dates and provides a clear timeline of your experience. Also, if your past experience hasn't led to many relevant skills to showcase, a functional resume might not be the best choice for showing your capabilities.

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