Functional Resume Guide: Template and Tips

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about the skills-based resume format and get tips for writing your own.

[Featured image] A young woman in a white shirt and overalls works on her functional resume on her laptop computer.

A functional resume, or skills-based resume, is an alternative format that prioritises your skills and how you’ve used them over your work experience.

Some people choose this resume format when transitioning into a new career phase to better emphasise their transferable skills. However, it’s important to use this format strategically so recruiters and hiring managers can easily find the information they’re looking for on your resume.

In this article, we’ll discuss when you might choose to write a functional resume and how to format a skills-based resume with a customisable template that walks you through the process.

When to use a functional resume

Your main goal in writing a resume is to tell your career story, and sometimes, the most effective storytelling relies on alternative techniques. Although the chronological resume is the most common format, several other resumes, including the functional resume, enable you to highlight different aspects of your career.

You may decide to emphasise your skills rather than your work history if your desired future path doesn’t neatly align with your previous experience, for example, if you are changing careers or writing your first resume. 

It’s important to note that if you apply for jobs via a web portal, you may want to stick with a more traditional resume format. Many companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan incoming resumes and use an algorithm to determine whether an applicant fits the job before a human recruiter reviews the application materials. The ATS is typically programmed to “read” chronological resumes and may not interpret alternative resume formats accurately.

To avoid disqualifying your resume based on technical inadequacies, it’s best to submit a chronological resume when applying online and save your functional resume for those cases when submitting it directly to a recruiter or hiring manager.

Other ways to show skills on your resume

If you are applying for jobs through an ATS but still want to lead with your skills, consider adding a skills section to your chronological resume. A skills section can offer a dedicated space to include valuable resume keywords while maintaining the format an ATS is typically programmed to scan.


Functional resume format

Your functional resume will look slightly different than the chronological format you may be used to, particularly in how you present your skills and work experience. However, the structure of your other resume sections will remain consistent.

Typically, a functional resume will include these key sections:

  • Header

  • Objective or summary

  • Skills

  • Work experience

  • Education

  • Certifications (optional)

Let’s take a closer look at each section.

Functional resume template

Use this functional resume template to write your resume as we detail what to include in each section below.



Your header will appear on the top two lines of your resume. Lead with your name and key contact information, such as your email address, phone number, territory and district, and portfolio address, if you have one. Make this information stand out with a larger font size, bold text, or centred formatting.

Objective or summary

Use an objective or summary statement below your header to give recruiters and hiring managers context about your experience and goals before detailing your qualifications. Recent university graduates, people changing careers, or people looking to advance their careers usually opt to write a resume objective, while people with some or varied work experience often include a resume summary.

These sections are typically considered optional, but with a functional resume, an objective or summary statement can offer a familiar introduction before you present the less-common skills section.


The skills section is the star of the functional resume. This will be your longest and most detailed section where you name your top three skills. For each, write the skill you want to highlight on one line, followed by about three bullet points to describe how you’ve used that skill to promote business goals.

Use your skills bullets to detail measurable accomplishments or projects you’ve completed that showcase this skill. You don’t need to mention when or where you used them. This lack of specificity and context surrounding your skills is one reason hiring managers may feel less compelled by the functional resume format. To draw more explicit connections between your skills and your roles, consider writing a chronological resume.


Here’s an example of what a skill entry may look like:

Project management

  • Set project goals, developed budgets and timelines, and aligned stakeholders for internal company-wide communications projects

  • Oversaw project execution workflow and mitigated risks with 100% on-time and on-budget completion and a 95% project success rate over two years

  • Managed cross-departmental communications to create agendas and presentations for monthly company all-hands meetings

Work experience

Since you’ve already shared your accomplishments and projects in the skills section, your work experience section will be more condensed than you’d typically see on a resume. With a functional resume, you can simply list your work experience, sharing only your title, company, and dates of employment.

You can choose various formatting options for this section, but the simplest may look like this:

Executive Assistant, ABC Company, January 2022 - January 2024


Your education section will look the same as on a chronological resume, listing your school name, location, degree obtained, and field of study. Depending on how recently you graduated, you may include the dates you attended, your Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA), relevant honours, achievements, coursework, extracurricular activities, or study abroad programmes.

You can format this section in several ways. Learn how to list education on a resume to decide what works best.

Additional sections

Sections such as certifications, hobbies, or volunteer work are all optional. However, if you have relevant experience in any of these areas and they help demonstrate your career development and progress, you should add them below your education.

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