Is The Functional Resume Format Right For You?

Frequently we have clients come to us at Distinctive Career Services asking about having a functional resume written. The functional resume examples shown in this post are just a few examples of that.

But, most often, after discussing the reasons why they think they might want a resume in this format, we advise against one.

Reasons You Shouldn’t Use a Functional Resume

While a functional resume can be beneficial and effective in some situations, you must be very strategic and think carefully about the pros and cons before deciding on one for yourself.

The reason?

The functional format raises serious red flags when a recruiter or potential employer comes across them. Partly this is because resumes in this format are usually missing information the recruiter wants. But the primary reason is that this format is often used to “hide” or “mask” something less-than-desirable in a job seeker’s background.  In fact, functional resumes are so disliked that many recruiters won’t even accept a functional resume and will simply toss it aside and move on to the next resume.

But, even if the recruiter or employer does read it, do you really want your resume studied with an eye out for the flaws in your background? This isn’t usually the way to make the best first impression.

Reasons To Consider Using a Functional Resume

So with all of these negatives, you might ask why a functional format would ever be used. It’s simple. Some situations simply don’t lend themselves to a reverse chronological resume.

When might a functional resume be the best choice? Ask yourself these questions:

    1. Are you changing careers? Career changers, especially those who are trying to enter a very different profession, have a need to emphasize transferable qualifications. A functional resume can help you do that in a way that simply isn’t possible in a chronological resume. Here are some examples of targeted resumes written for a career changer, styled in the functional format.
    2. Do you have significant gaps in your work history? A functional resume can help to minimize large gaps of unemployment in your work history that would otherwise eliminate you from consideration before you even had a chance for a face-to-face interview. Here is an example of a functional resume written to minimize work history gaps (look at the first administrative assistant resume)
    3. Are you returning to the workforce after a long period of unemployment? Whether you have intentionally taken time out of the workforce or have been out for unintentional reasons, you may want to consider a functional resume.
    4. Has all your past work been of a very similar nature? Rather than being repetitive, if your entire career has been in a very similar type of role, a functional format might be a good choice.  In the strictest sense of the term, a purely functional resume would not include dates on the work history. But, there are some cases where you would want to include them. This is one of them. Here is an example functional resume for an auto technician.

Some other situations in which you MIGHT consider a functional format include

  • if your work history presented in a chronological format would make you look overqualified,
  • if you are a recent graduate with little-to-no work experience in the field you are targeting, or
  • if you have a very diverse work history without a clear career path.

Functional Resume Examples

The example functional resume below was for an esthetician and makeup artist who was skilled at her craft and had a very clear target for her job search. Unfortunately, some of her experience was decades old and her work history had lengthy gaps in it. However, she had completed some recent, relevant training. This functional resume example shows how this format can be the best choice in some cases.

This job seeker’s background simply didn’t lend itself to the traditional chronological style resume. Instead, we opted to focus on her relevant qualifications and capabilities in summary sections followed by a listing of past, relevant work history. True to the pure functional format, dates of employment were left out.

Functional Resume Example

As already explained, a functional resume format focuses on the skills, qualifications, and achievements that a job seeker offers, but not in a chronological context. For this reason, it can often be a good choice format for a career changer. The functional resume example shown below illustrates.

Sample Targeted Resume for Nonprofit Work

In summary, if you are considering a functional resume for your job search, we advise that you consult with a professional resume writer. At Distinctive Career Services, we have worked with countless thousands of clients and have helped our clients deal with nearly every imaginable work history challenge.

We can help you not just decide whether a functional resume or chronological resume is best for you; we can help you write one that will give you an enormous edge in the job market. To get started with us, book a free resume writing consultation today.

About the Author: Michelle Dumas

Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. To learn more about the services offered by Distinctive Career Services visit

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