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How To Write A Functional Resume

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How To Write A Functional Resume

When you’re looking to moving into a new career or you have a less than stellar history in terms of jobs and lengths of employment, you might dread the thought of even having to craft a new resume.

Nowadays, it seems most resumes are submitted in a chronological format which carefully shows the months and years you worked at each position, with all them slotting in nicely with one another.

Laptop Working on it

The problem with these resumes is that life rarely works like that, and although it would be nice to have one job after the other with detailed descriptions and dates that flow seamlessly, it’s not always easy to achieve.

For one reason or another, you might find gaps in your employment or long unemployed periods throughout your life, so you want these to look as positive as possible on your resume.

This is where the functional resume steps in, as a way to move the focus away from the dates and chronological significance that most resumes have these days.

These are the ideal option for anyone who wants to place emphasis on their skills and experience rather than exact dates, and they can be a great alternative to the traditional resume if you know how to do them right.


What Is A Functional Resume?

Most resumes nowadays all look fairly similar, with the main thing being the order of the positions you worked. In a traditional resume, your positions are all listed in chronological order with the most recent at the top, and you’re able to account for all roles with exact dates of your employment and show that you moved onto the next job almost instantly.

A functional resume instead focuses on the skills and experience you have and aims to show off more about you and what you can do rather than the dates that you did them.

Coding skills

However, it doesn’t mean you can completely skip the timeline altogether or list skills from 20 years ago that you haven’t used since. You still need to be qualified for the job you’re applying for, otherwise, it will all come out during the interview.

Who Should Use A Functional Resume?

The functional resume suits anyone who might feel a little unsure about the dates or descriptions on their resume and wants to show more about what they can offer than the timeline it was done in. Here are a few people who may find it useful to use a functional resume rather than a chronological one:


Whether you’ve just had a baby and are returning to the workforce after a few months, or taken some time off work to spend with your kids, being a parent is one of the most common reasons you might have gaps in employment.


Taking time out to study and better yourself is nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s a perfectly reasonable excuse for not having a perfect timeline of employment. Make sure you list your studies elsewhere on your resume so they can see your time was devoted elsewhere.

College Student Writing Resume


When a family member or friend becomes ill, some people take time off work to care for them. This can take years of your time and remove you from the professional world entirely, and it’s a common reason that many people have gaps in their employment.

Bringing this up during an interview is ideal, however, there’s no need to get into personal reasons on your resume.


Some people decide to take time off work and travel the world, or give themselves a year off just to relax and live a less complicated life. These gaps are fine to have on your resume, and being a worldly traveler may make for a more interesting interview when you’re asked about what you did with your time off.


If you’ve been struck with some bad luck and lost your job, whether you were at fault or not, and you’ve found it hard to get employed again, you’ll likely want to hide this fact with a functional resume. These resumes can help with recent gaps in employment or those that happened years ago.

Unemplyoment Line

No matter which of these apply to you, or something altogether different, you need to be prepared to discuss your reason for gaps in employment during your interview. You should have an honest and professional way to explain your history, and you’ll find that circumstances such as yours aren’t really that unusual.


Tips For Writing A Functional Resume

If you’re set on the functional resume route, you might need a bit of assistance for making sure it works right. Here are a few ideas for how to get your resume noticed in the functional format and help it stand out from the pack.

Use A Cover Letter

Your cover letter is a great way to tell your career narrative, and without going into too much personal detail it can help the employer understand a little more about the gaps in your resume.

Group Your Skills Under Themes

Choose themes that are specific to the job posting and be sure that your resume addresses each of these. Themes such as “computer programming” or “customer service” are great headings that can allow you to go into more detail underneath.

Computer Job Application

Perfect Your Formatting

Ensure your resume is formatted perfectly as you’ll already be a standout when compared to the chronological ones. There’s no room for messiness or mistakes with this type of resume, so have it checked over by someone you can trust.

Just as no two candidates are the same, no two resumes will ever be the same either. Although it’s ideal to have a chronological resume with everything perfectly lined up and in order, the reality is often far from that.

A functional resume is an ideal way to show your strengths and experience without getting weighed down with dates, allowing you to get your foot in the door and present yourself for an interview.

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Matthew Gibbs

Matthew Gibbs

Matt is the Co-Founder of Recruiterly and a veteran recruitment professional. He has worked for, managed and owned recruitment agencies in the UK, Australia and Asia.

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