Are you a recent graduate, a career changer, or someone with limited work experience? If so, you may have heard it’s best to use a functional resume template to showcase your skills and abilities.

Not so fast. Although a functional resume showcases your skills, it deemphasizes your work history. And recruiters hate this.

In this guide, you will learn about the functional resume format and what recruiters say about it. You will also learn which format recruiters prefer and how you can jumpstart your resume.

Table of contents

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What is a functional resume format?

The functional resume format focuses on skills and abilities, not work experience. That’s why it’s also called a skills-based resume. 

In this format, your work experience is listed with minimal detail at the bottom of the resume.

When to use a functional resume format

A functional resume can be used in the following instances:

How to write a functional resume

Here’s how you write a functional resume:

  1. Start with your contact information (name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile.)
  2. Write a professional summary.
  3. List your key abilities in a skills summary. Put them in different categories relevant to the job.
  4. Include your work experience. Mention your job title, name of employers, and employment dates. You should outline these in reverse-chronological order. 
  5. Add an education section.
  6. Include relevant volunteer experience, certifications, training, awards, and other relevant achievements.
  7. Tailor your functional resume to the job description.

Functional resume template

Here is an example of a functional resume template you can download.

Why recruiters dislike the functional resume

We talked with a recruiter and this is what he said: “Recruiters hate the functional resume format. It’s a waste of time.”

Recruiters dislike functional resumes for two main reasons: 

1. It conceals information

“You’re taking information out of context [in a functional resume],” said the recruiter. “It’s easier to BS your way through to make things sound glamorous.”

The functional resume format raises suspicion among recruiters. This is because some job applicants may use it to:

  1. Cover gaps in their employment
  2. Bloat their skills.
  3. Hide their lack of experience. 

This is easy to do because the main focus of a functional resume is on skills rather than career history. 

The expert told us a story from his own job search history to illustrate what he meant. He used a functional resume template to make the jump from sales to the HR industry:

“I actually paid someone to do [a functional resume] for me. Whenever I would hand it to someone who was screening at a job fair, I would watch their eyes. They would skip right past everything at the top of the resume. Then they would go straight to my work history and look at the job titles. I would repeatedly watch them do this. Then I finally got myself into the HR industry where I was screening resumes, and I do the exact same thing.”.

The functional resume format covers up gaps in an applicant’s experience. And recruiters know it. They will skip straight down to the work history to try and figure out what you’re hiding.

Here’s what recruiters want you to do

A study revealed that recruiters only spend six seconds reviewing your resume. Because of this, you need to:

  1. Give recruiters a quick overview of what you bring to the table at the top of your resume. 
  2. Highlight your work experience, include measurable results, and provide context.

“I definitely want to see everything laid out in context,” said the expert. 

Recruiters want to have a better idea of the context of every skill and accomplishment. And the functional resume doesn’t offer this.

Use the hybrid resume format instead

The hybrid resume blends the best elements of the functional and reverse-chronological resumes. That’s why it’s also called the combination resume.

Here’s how you format a hybrid resume:

First, you show your key skills and achievements at the top of your resume, like a functional resume. 

And like a reverse-chronological resume, you then emphasize your employment history. To strengthen your resume, you need to outline key responsibilities and measurable accomplishments.

This way, recruiters can see the expertise you bring to the table and have a clear view of your work history.

Hybrid resume example

Here’s an example of a hybrid resume:

In this example, the job seeker started with a professional summary followed by a list of her core skills. She then outlined her work experience in reverse chronological order. She also included measurable accomplishments in her work history. 

A recruiter reading this resume will get a clear picture of whether the candidate is fit for the role.

Want some help to jumpstart your resume? You can use our resume builder to create your own ATS-friendly hybrid resume.

We also have resume examples to guide you and free templates you can download and use.


Use Jobscan’s free ATS-friendly resume templates and start building your resume that gets noticed by recruiters!


Hybrid resume formatting tips

Whatever stage you are as a job seeker, we recommend that you use the hybrid resume format.

Additionally, we recommend that you:

  1. Write a compelling resume summary that will hook the recruiter’s attention.
  2. Include your core hard and soft skills and competencies.
  3. Include measurable resume accomplishments and tangible results in your work experience section.
  4. Use strong action words.
  5. Tailor your resume to the specific job posting.
  6. Incorporate resume keywords in your skills section and work experience section.
  7. Optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems (ATS). The ATS is a software recruiters use to filter hundreds of applications. 

If you want to check how well your resume is optimized for the ATS, use Jobscan’s resume scanner. It analyzes your resume against the job description and gives you a list of keywords and ATS tips to help increase your chances of getting interviews.

Create a hybrid resume with Jobscan’s resume builder

Want to create a great resume the free and easy way? 

With Jobscan’s resume builder, you can have a great resume that impresses recruiters!

Here’s how you use Jobscan’s resume builder in three easy steps.

Step 1. Choose one of our many ATS-friendly hybrid resume templates.

Step 2. Fill in each field.

Step 3. Download your resume either as a word document or a pdf.

Functional resume examples

We don’t recommend using the functional resume format. However, here are some examples for you if you decide to use it.

Functional resume example for recent graduates

For recent graduates, here’s what you can include in your functional resume:

  • Resume objective detailing what you have to offer despite your limited work experience
  • Your degree and GPA (if it’s impressive)
  • List of relevant skills
  • Internships and volunteer experience (include relevant accomplishments)
  • Awards, training, certifications, and other accomplishments from extracurricular activities

In this example, the job seeker started with a summary of his academic background. He then outlined his technical skills that are relevant to the job. He also mentioned his bachelor’s degree, GPA, projects, internship experience, and work experience.

Functional resume example for career changer

If you are switching careers, here’s what you can include in your functional resume:

  • Resume summary of your professional background (include years of experience)
  • List of relevant skills that qualify you for your target industry
  • Work history section with employment dates
  • Internships and volunteer experience (include relevant accomplishments)
  • Awards, training, and certifications

In this example, the job seeker is transitioning from sales to human resources. To prove that she fits the role, she added transferable skills such as customer service. She also included her work experience in sales, followed by an education section. She then shared about her volunteer experience as an HR assistant and ended with more skills.

Functional resume example for job seeker with employment gaps

If you have employment gaps, here’s what you can include in your functional resume:

  • Resume summary of your professional background and expertise
  • List of relevant professional skills
  • Work history section with employment dates
  • Internships and volunteer work (include relevant accomplishments)
  • Awards, training, and certifications

The job seeker outlined specific skills directly relevant to the job. She then included relevant projects, certifications, and publication. She also mentioned her employment history. Even with her employment gaps, this job seeker managed to put the spotlight on her skills and talents.

Functional resume example for job seeker re-entering the workforce

If you are returning to the workforce, here’s what you can include in your functional resume:

  • Resume summary of what you can bring to the company
  • Summary of your skills and abilities
  • Work experience with measurable accomplishments
  • Volunteer experience, projects, awards, and certifications

In this example, the job seeker mentioned her eight years of experience and her readiness to work again. She then emphasized her key skills, qualifications, volunteer experience, courses, and certifications.

Functional resume example for job seeker with limited experience

If you have limited experience, here’s what you can include in your functional resume:

  • Resume summary of hard and soft skills you can bring to the company
  • Summary of your skills and abilities relevant to the job
  • Work experience with measurable accomplishments
  • Education section
  • Volunteer experience, projects, awards, and certifications

In this example, the job seeker showcased her commitment to the firm in her summary. She then outlined her key skills relevant to the job. She also included her education, some relevant coursework, and internship experience. She also outlined her academic awards.

Frequently asked questions

What are the different resume formats?

There are three basic resume formats:

  1. Chronological resume format
  2. Functional format
  3. Hybrid resume format

Who is the functional format of the resume good for?

The functional format is good for:

  • Job seekers with limited work experience
  • Career changers
  • Job seekers returning to the workforce
  • Job seekers with employment gaps

What is the difference between a hybrid resume and a functional resume?

A functional resume puts the spotlight on your skills. The hybrid resume not only focuses on your key skills but also on your work experience.

Which resume format is best?

Among the three resume formats, recruiters prefer that you use the hybrid resume format.


More expert insights on this topic:

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