How To Write a Functional Resume

A functional resume prioritizes skills, training, and education instead of work experience. The logic behind this approach is that job seekers who lack hands-on industry experience can instead draw attention to relevant skill sets and qualifications. While you might initially want to discard work experience that is largely unrelated to the career you’re targeting, you also eliminate the opportunity to highlight transferable skill sets from your previous jobs.

The reverse chronological resume format is widely accepted as the industry standard because it enables you to create compelling bullet points that effectively showcase your professional journey. This format also ensures that your most recent and relevant experience is featured at the top of your document, which is important for hiring managers. Throughout this guide, we’ll compare and contrast functional resumes and reverse chronological resumes to help you make an informed decision as you begin building your document.

  • Entry-Level
  • Mid-Career
  • Senior-Level
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1. Craft an outstanding profile with a summary of your functional qualifications

On a functional resume, your professional profile should only focus on relevant skills. While concision has benefits, the drawback is that you won’t make a lasting impression on the hiring manager. This approach tends to read very generically, which won’t help you stand out during the hiring process. In addition, it’s possible to showcase your skills and qualifications while providing a compelling snapshot of your career experience. Notice how the first example lists a number of relevant skills but fails to tell the job seeker’s story.

Functional Resume Profile Example

Skilled nursing professional with advanced knowledge of acute care, clinical workflows, pediatric care, and team collaboration. Developed a strong understanding of infection prevention protocols, EHR, and HIPAA.

Reverse Chronological Profile Example

A nursing professional with seven years of experience delivering high-quality healthcare services in acute care environments. A proven track record of delivering empathetic and compassionate treatment to diverse patient populations.

2. Showcase your functional experience

Due to the nature of the functional resume format, it isn’t easy to showcase your career achievements in the professional experience section. The emphasis is instead placed entirely on your skills. Although this approach might seem usable for a recent graduate, there are drawbacks even in this situation. For instance, showcasing academic projects and volunteerism in detail is often a stronger way to grab the hiring manager’s attention. Even a job in retail that doesn’t match your current goals can be leveraged to showcase your communication and team leadership skills.

Functional Resume Professional Experience Example

Digital Marketing Manager, Radiant Software Corp., San Francisco, CA
October 2016 – Present

  • Utilize advanced knowledge of marketing strategy, email campaigns, SEO marketing, and A/B testing to support campaigns
  • Strong understanding of digital marketing and advertising strategies
  • Experience working in paid search, display, and programmatic marketing channels

Reverse Chronological Professional Experience Example

Digital Marketing Manager, Radiant Software Corp., San Francisco, CA
October 2016 – Present

  • Lead digital marketing campaigns across paid search, display, and programmatic marketing channels for a software company, resulting in a 20% increase in lead conversions and $2M in pipeline revenue
  • Coordinate with the Director of Marketing to define digital advertising strategy for new products and services and enhance market penetration
  • Improve web traffic by 400% over a two-year span and achieve open rates of 13% and click rates of 3.1% for email blasts

Formatting for education and certifications is primarily the same for both functional resumes and reverse chronological resumes. The key difference is that you’d likely place these sections above your work experience on a functional resume. While you can make a case for this approach in certain instances, it’s generally recommended to showcase your career accomplishments closer to the top of your document.



  • [Certification Name], [Awarding Organization], [Completion Year]


  • Project Management Professional (PMP), PMI, 2015
  • Certified Associate Project Manager, PMI, 2013



  • [Degree Name]
  • [School Name], [City, State Abbreviation] [Dates Enrolled]


  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Digital Marketing
  • UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO, CA September 2007 – May 2011

4. Outline your most useful functional skills and proficiencies

Listing skills and keywords that align with the job description are important regardless of the resume format you select. The key difference is that a functional resume will always feature this section below the professional profile. There are certain instances where this makes sense, especially if you’re applying for a technology role. Hiring managers will always be more interested in how you’ve utilized these various skill sets throughout your career. Below, you’ll find a broad list of industry skills that you might encounter during the job search:

Key Skills and Proficiencies
Accounting Account Management
Business Strategy Client Relations
Communication Continuous Improvement
Cross-Functional Collaboration Customer Service
Data Analytics Digital Marketing
Financial Analysis Financial Reporting
Healthcare Management Information Technology
Operations Management Marketing Strategy
Patient Care Process Improvement
Project Management Quality Assurance
Sales Software Development
Team Management Technical Support

How to Pick the Best Functional Resume Template

In most cases, it’s best to choose a well-organized resume template that uses minimal color and graphics. This ensures that the hiring manager’s attention is focused on your career accomplishments and qualifications. Because the functional resume is only focused on highlighting skills, you can use a modern template that is more aesthetically focused. Remember that it’s your content, not your template, that ultimately determines whether or not you receive the job interview.

Functional Resume Text-Only Resume Templates and Examples

Now that you understand the differences between functional resumes and reverse chronological resumes, we’ll provide three examples to illustrate the end result of each approach. You’ll notice that the functional resume example does feature a variety of important skill sets, but the bullet points themselves don’t read proactively. In the two reverse chronological examples, the job seeker is able to paint a clear and compelling picture of your strongest career achievements.

  • Functional Resume Example #1
  • Functional Resume Example #2
  • Functional Resume Example #3

Jessica Lang
(123) 456-7890
[email protected]
LinkedIn | Portfolio
123 Bedford Avenue, New York, NY 12345


A Nursing Professional with seven years of experience delivering high-quality healthcare services in acute care environments. A proven track record of delivering empathetic and compassionate treatment to diverse patient populations.

Professional Experience

Licensed Vocational Nurse, St. Joseph’s Assisted Living, New York, NY
November 2018 – Present

  • Coordinate with a team of 25+ doctors, nurses, and other health care and social work professionals to ensure a high quality of life for 75 residents
  • Interface with residents to ensure compliance with medication, provide enrichment activities such as film, workshops, and events, and communicate with empathy and compassion to achieve a patient satisfaction rating of 91%
  • Collect samples, prepare residents for treatments, educate patients on care plans

Licensed Vocational Nurse, Fair Acres Retirement Community, New York, NY
June 2016 – November 2018

  • Collaborated with medical teams and LPNs to treat patients undergoing cardiac care and rehabilitation and provide education on patient care
  • Administered medications, IV therapy, and other treatments for patients in the cardiac emergency room, including surgical preparations


Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Nursing
Columbia University, New York, NY September 2012 – June 2016

Key Skills

  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Communication
  • Clinical Operations
  • Medication Administration
  • Wound Care


  • Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), State of New York, License #123456

Frequently Asked Questions: Functional Resume Examples and Advice

What are common action verbs for functional resumes?-

Action verbs are used in a limited capacity on functional resumes due to the lack of detail in the professional experience section. In most cases, you’d want to use verbs to open bullet points that describe different skill sets you’ve developed in your work experience. Below, you’ll find a list of action verbs you can use to accomplish this:

Action Verbs
Acquired Built
Completed Cultivated
Developed Enhanced
Expanded Gained
Grew Improved
Obtained Received
How do you align your resume with a job description?-

Aligning your document with the job description is essential to the resume-building process. As you review various job postings, you’ll want to incorporate as many keywords and skill sets as possible that match the role you’re applying for. One benefit of a functional resume format is that it does place relevant qualifications at the forefront of your document. The downside is that while this will ensure you pass the initial ATS scan, it doesn’t show hiring managers how you’ve used your industry knowledge to create value for your team and organization.

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Expert Advice
Include a cover letter with your resume

If you choose a functional resume format, you should almost always include a cover letter to supplement your application. Because your document will lack a substantial description of your work history, you’ll need to use this opportunity to fill in the gaps for the hiring manager. You should also make a point to mention something about the organization and why its culture or reputation draws you to apply for the position.

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