How to Use a Functional Resume Template

woman typing her functional resume on a laptop.

If you’re changing jobs, updating your resume can be daunting. Especially if you have a career gap, you’ve done a lot of job hopping, and/or if you are making a big career change (like switching from accounting to teaching).

Enter the functional resume template. As a career coach and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) for 20+ years, it’s the style of resume I recommend for many of my clients who have been laid off, have a career gap, or have done a lot of job switching.

In this blog post, I’m going to walk you through you how to use a functional resume template to showcase your achievements and abilities and increase your chances of landing your dream job. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a student writing your first resume, this article will provide you with all the secrets you need to create a winning resume.

What is a Functional Resume Template?

Before I dive into how to create and use a functional resume template, I’ll start by defining what a functional resume is and conversely, what it is not. A functional resume is a resume style that you can use to emphasize your transferable skills and achievements while de-emphasizing your work history.

The more traditional chronological resume style, in contrast, focuses on a candidate’s work history in reverse-chronological order, allowing them to showcase their work experience in-depth and front and center on the resume.

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Who Should Use a Functional Resume Template?

High school and college students looking to land their first job or internship can benefit greatly from using a functional resume style. The reason is because students typically don’t have a lot (if any) work experience to list on their resume. A functional resume allows students to market their skills and experience they have gained through classes, projects, and even co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. If you are a student job seeker, you can also use a student resume template which will also allow you to showcase your educational-related skills and accomplishments.

Job seekers who have job hopped can also benefit from using a functional resume template. And let me be clear here. There is absolutely no shame in job hopping. Especially in today’s job market and economy. In fact, a recent study showed that 70% of the current workforce is actively looking to make a career change! That statistic demonstrates that most job seekers have likely made or will make at least one or two job changes.

If you have held many jobs for short periods of time, using a functional resume template can help you because it allows you to de-emphasize your short and choppy work history while simultaneously putting a spotlight on your relevant or transferable skills and achievements.

Do Recruiters like Functional Resume Templates?

The short answer is no. Most recruiters have told me that they don’t like the functional resume style because they can’t see the candidate’s work history.

You might be wondering why in the heck I’m promoting this type of resume if recruiters dislike it. Well, the style of resume I’m actually promoting is technically referred to as a hybrid or combination style resume. However, most job seekers don’t have a clue what a hybrid or combination resume template actually is. But many people do recognize the term “functional resume.”

And to add to the confusion, I’ve also found that hiring managers, recruiters, job seekers, and career coaches (ahem) alike even use the terms “functional resume” and “combination resume” interchangeably. There are many functional resume templates that do not have a work history category. I do not recommend using these templates because not listing your work history on your resume is indeed a major red flag for hiring managers and recruiters.

However, the combination resume template offers the best of both worlds. This resume style allows you to showcase your biggest and most relevant skills and achievements at the top of your resume where recruiters will look first, while also including your work history below.

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It’s important to remember that writing a resume is more of an art than a science. Unlike a job application, you don’t sign your resume and there are not any “mandatory fields” that you have to fill out. You can include as much or as little information as you would like.

However, there are certain unspoken “rules” of writing a resume. For example, it’s recommended to always include your work history. Highlighting achievements versus just listing job functions is also an unspoken rule or recommendation, as is not including references on your resume.

How to Use a Functional Resume Template?

Now that you know when I write “functional resume template” I am also referring to a “combination” or “hybrid” resume style, I’m going to talk about how you actually use a this style of resume template.

The way that use a functional resume template depends entirely upon which template you are using. Are you creating your own resume? If so, you can literally design and craft your resume any way that you like. On the plus side, the possibilities are endless. On the downside, the possibilities are endless. While this may seem exciting to some job seekers, in my experience it is overwhelming to most.

If you decide to use a professionally crafted functional resume template the categories are already included for you and all you need to do is plug in your information and of course make sure your resume is also accomplishment-focused and optimized for ATS or Applicant Tracking Systems.

Regardless if you decide to design your own resume or use a professional resume template, there are certain categories you want to include and I will walk you through how to do this below:

Step one:

At the top of your functional or combination resume you want to list your contact information. This typically includes your first and last name, email, city and state, and LinkedIn profile URL. Other items you can include are a professional website or blog URL if you have one and it’s relevant to your career goal.

Also, just a little insider tip. As a professional resume writer I’ve noticed that many job seekers list outdated email addresses such as Yahoo, AOL, or even Hotmail. I recommend not using these email addresses because they are considered outdated by recruiters and you don’t want to risk looking like you’re not technologically savvy and up to date.

You also risk having age discrimination affect your application as older generations tend to use these email addresses. And by the way, there’s no shame here. I will openly admit that I used my Yahoo email address long after I should have! The good news is that it only takes a few minutes or less to create a brand spanking new Gmail account and it’s completely free.

Your contact information can look something like this:

OLIVIA LOPEZ

           City, State   │   (123) 456-7980   │     yourname@gmail.com     │     linkedin.com/in/yourname       

Step two:

Pay close attention because this is the most important part of how to effectively use a functional resume template. It all depends on two things: your past experience and your current career goal. If you don’t know the latter it’s going to be challenging to write your resume.

Also, if you don’t communicate how your past experience and skills makes you a good fit for the job you are applying for, your resume is going to go directly into the “no pile.”

If you’re not sure about the type of job you want, it’s okay. Take time to reflect on where you’ve been in your career and more importantly, what career path you want to target next.

If you know which type of job you want to target, I recommend that after listing your contact information, you include some type of career summary or professional profile. Since recruiters only spend about seven seconds initially scanning your resume, you want to make sure this section is written in a very compelling and targeted way. That’s basically resume writer speak for: tell the recruiter why you are awesome and unique and how your skills will allow you to kick butt in your targeted job!

Here’s an example of a professional profile (also called a summary of qualifications) section that is included in one of our functional resume templates:

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS (template example)

Seeking to leverage {insert current skillset(s)} into a position in {insert your targeted field}. Highly skilled in {list another skillset that’s mentioned in the job posting}. Ability to {mention a skill or attribute that demonstrates your value-add}, which is demonstrated by {give a specific example}.

In the summary, notice how writing prompts are included to make it easy to plug in your information and to tell a hiring manager exactly how you plan to leverage your prior skills and/or experience into being successful in a different job or career path. There’s no guesswork involved for the recruiter.

Again, if you are not spelling out to an employer what you’ve done in the past and how that relates to what you want do in your future career path, your resume will immediately get discarded.

I’m going to include another example of an actual professional summary or profile that’s targeted to the field of marketing:

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS (real example)

Results-driven marketing professional with a proven track record of creating and implementing successful marketing strategies. Over [number] years of experience in developing and executing integrated marketing campaigns that drive brand awareness, engagement, and revenue growth. Adept at leveraging market research and consumer insights to inform targeted marketing initiatives. Skilled in digital marketing, social media management, and data analysis to optimize campaign performance.

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Step three:

Include a section below your profile that can be titled something like “relevant skills and experience” or “relevant achievements.” The exact wording doesn’t matter as much as what you include within this category (again going back to the resume writing is an art not a science).

For example, if you are targeting a job in marketing, you will want to highlight marketing-related skills like market research, digital marketing, content creation, branding, and customer relationship management (CRM), just to name a few.

Here’s an example of what a strong and targeted relevant skills and achievements section should look like:

Market Research and Digital Marketing

  • Implemented targeted digital marketing campaigns, resulting in 20% increase in online lead generation within three-month period while working at Target Corporation.
  • Spearheaded social media strategy, boosting brand engagement by 30% and growing follower base by 25% in six months as market research analyst.
  • Executed data-driven market research, identifying key trends and opportunities that led to 15% improvement in product positioning and messaging.

Content Marketing & Collaboration

  • Implemented A/B testing for email marketing campaigns while working as marketing manager with Apple, leading to 15% lift in email open rates and a 20% improvement in click-through rates.
  • Led cross-functional teams in successful launch of new product, contributing to 30% increase in sales revenue within first quarter.
  • Developed and executed comprehensive content marketing strategy, resulting in 25% growth in organic traffic and improved search engine rankings.

Customer Experience & Data Analytics

  • As marketing intern at Google, analyzed customer journey data and implemented targeted improvements, resulting in 20% increase in customer retention rates over six-month period.
  • Utilized marketing analytics tools to track and measure campaign performance, achieving significant increase in overall marketing ROI.

There are a few important items to note. First, notice how detailed and accomplishment-centered the phrases are within the skills and achievements section. Rather than listing generic skills like “excellent customer service” the candidate showcased their unique contribution of analyzing customer experience data to help increase customer retention.

Basically, you want to show a recruiter the awesome stuff you did in the past so they can picture you doing similar awesome things for their company in the future.

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If you’re wondering how you can include quantifiable metrics for every phrase on your resume, don’t stress. It’s not necessary to list numbers and percentages every time you describe an achievement. If you work in a field where numbers aren’t as important, you can also highlight other types of accomplishments like numbers of customers or clients helped, special recognitions, or even emotional intelligence skills.

Step four:

Here’s the step you cannot forget. Make sure to list your work history. The exact way that you list your work experience depends upon the functional resume template you choose to use. As long as you include your job title, company or organization name, and dates, you’re good to go.

Whether or not you choose to describe your work history depends upon the relevancy to your targeted position. Again, I’m using resume writer language here. To put it simply, ask yourself if what you did in the job is related to the job you are applying for.

If it isn’t related, don’t go into detail. Maybe list one bullet or even no bullets. If it is related, you can include a bullet or two and make sure to include relevant skills and keywords from the job posting (this is also how you can optimize your resume for the ATS).

Your work history can look something like this:

WORK HISTORY

Employer Name, City, State                                                                                         

Your Position Title                                                                     xx/xxxx – xx/xxxx

Employer Name, City, State                                                                                         

Your Position Title                                                                     xx/xxxx – xx/xxxx

Employer Name, City, State                                                                                         

Your Position Title                                                                     xx/xxxx – xx/xxxx

Step five:

The next section of your resume should include your education. If you recently received training, certification, or a degree and if it is related to your targeted job or field, I recommend listing it up high on your resume.

For example, you can include your Education category right underneath your contact information if it’s directly relevant to your job goal. This is especially important if you are lacking in related work experience. You can also include your recent or current program, training, or degree as part of your professional profile so the recruiter sees it right away.

Your education section should look something like this:

EDUCATION


Name of Institution City, State
Your Degree Title Expected 20xx

Step six:

Include any additional relevant information that supports your career goal. For example, you can include sections like professional development and training, relevant skills, and even hobbies and interests if there is a connection between your passions and the field you are targeting.

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Functional Resume Template Examples:

Here is an example of a clean and simple functional resume template for Word and/or functional resume template example for Google Docs:

OLIVIA LOPEZ

           City, State   │   (123) 456-7980    │     yourname@gmail.com     │    linkedin.com/in/yourname       

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS

Seeking to leverage {insert current skillset(s)} into a position in {insert your targeted field}. Highly skilled in {list another skillset that’s mentioned in the job posting}. Ability to {mention a skill or attribute that demonstrates your value-add}, which is demonstrated by {give a specific example}.

RELEVANT SKILLS & EXPERIENCE

Communication

  • Use the job posting to determine which skillsets and accomplishments to highlight.
  • Start your phrases with an action verb, then add nouns and adjectives and quantify!
  • Example: Oversaw XYZ fundraising event with 10,000 attendees; raised over $10K.

Leadership

  • Avoid using extra articles and pronouns like the, an, and a.
  • Use qualifiers like “beginner” and “intermediate” to describe your skill or knowledge level.
  • Example: Completed certification in event management, including training in budgeting, logistics, and project management.

Market Research

  • Rather than writing generic terms like “team player” and “excellent communication skills,” give examples of how you have acquired skillsets along with corresponding achievements.
  • Examples of accomplishments: reducing costs, increasing sales, efficiency, or client satisfaction, solving a problem, or receiving an award or recognition.

WORK HISTORY

Employer Name, City, State                                                                                         

Your Position Title                                                                     xx/xxxx – xx/xxxx

Employer Name, City, State                                                                                         

Your Position Title                                                                     xx/xxxx – xx/xxxx

Employer Name, City, State                                                                                         

Your Position Title                                                                     xx/xxxx – xx/xxxx

EDUCATION

Name of Institution City, State

Your Degree Title                                                                                              xxxx

Here is another example of a functional resume template. This functional resume template for Word an/or functional resume template for Google Docs example is targeted to the field of IT:

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email Address]

Professional Profile
Results-oriented IT professional with [X years] of experience in [specific IT areas]. Proven track record of [achievements or skills] seeking a challenging position to leverage expertise in [specific technologies or skills].

Skills Summary

  • Operating Systems: Windows, Linux, MacOS
  • Programming Languages: Java, Python, C++
  • Network Administration: Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Database Management: SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle
  • Cloud Computing: AWS, Azure
  • Security: CISSP Certified, Firewall Configuration
  • Project Management: Agile, Scrum
  • Troubleshooting and Problem Resolution

Professional Experience

  1. [Current or Most Recent Job Title] – [Current Company], [Location] (Month/Year – Present)
  • Brief description of responsibilities and achievements
  • Highlight relevant projects and technologies used
  1. [Previous Job Title] – [Previous Company], [Location] (Month/Year – Month/Year)
  • Key responsibilities and accomplishments
  • Technologies and tools utilized

Education

[Degree Earned] in [Field of Study]
[University Name], [Location], Graduation Year

Certifications

  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Projects

  1. [Project Title] – [Description of the project, your role, and technologies used]
  2. [Project Title] – [Description of the project, your role, and technologies used]

Awards and Recognitions

  • [Any relevant awards or recognitions]

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is a functional resume template?

    A functional resume template is a pre-designed document that helps showcase your skills, experiences, and qualifications in a format focused on your abilities rather than a chronological work history.

  • Who should use a functional resume template?

    A functional resume template is ideal for individuals who want to highlight their relevant skills and experiences, especially if they have career gaps, changing industries, or limited work history. It allows you to emphasize your abilities and achievements upfront.

  • How to use a functional resume template?

    To use a functional resume template, follow these steps:
    – Choose a functional resume template that suits your style and profession.
    – Customize the template by adding your personal information, such as contact details and professional summary.
    – Identify the key skills and experiences you want to highlight and create separate sections to showcase them prominently.
    – Use bullet points to list your accomplishments, responsibilities, and achievements under each relevant skill or experience.
    – Tailor the template to fit your unique background and career goals.
    – Proofread and edit your functional resume to ensure it is error-free and presents you in the best possible light.

    Remember to consult the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and rich result guidelines for any specific formatting or optimization recommendations related to functional resume templates.

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