A functional resume displays accomplishments, skills and qualifications by grouping them into functional areas. It is a new format to the market and therefore not as popular as a chronological resume.

Benefits of a Functional Resume

  • Focuses on skills rather than lengths of employment
  • Career change positions and employment gaps do not stand out

The majority of employers who were surveyed agreed that they prefer chronological resumes. In fact, some employers said they will not even read a functional resume. This is a serious drawback to using a functional resume. When there are more people than jobs, employers have more people to choose from and are therefore less likely to interview an applicant who submits a functional resume. If, however, you have changed careers, have gaps in your employment, or have job hopped, you may want to use a functional resume.

Key Points to Remember When Using a Functional Resume:

  • Select three or four general skill areas.
  • Utilize accomplishment statements that are relevant to the position you are applying for and put those at the top.
  • Include an educational/professional affiliation section.
  • Create an employment history section that lists position title, company name, city, state, and dates of employment.
  • If you have no work experience or a spotty record, list your employers/experiences, leaving out employment dates entirely, but be prepared to talk about this at the interview. Put this section at the bottom of the resume after educational information. If your chronological resume is not working for you, try a functional one. People are getting interviews deviating from the traditional formats. However, there are usually other contributing factors such as networking contacts or unique skill qualifications.

Outplacement consultants interviewed by the National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW), in an article written in May 1990, recommended functional resumes for people who are in the following circumstance: professionals who are re-entering the work force after interrupting their careers to raise a family, to go back to school, or to change careers. Also included were professionals who have utilized their expertise in a wide variety of unrelated projects. The NBEW suggests that functional resumes help "show areas of expertise and affiliations" by focusing on two or three skill areas.

Example of a Functional Resume

Patrick A. Jones
10 Main Street
Haverhill, MA 01830
(508) 372-6967


  • Successfully managed 5 departments with 4 direct and 75 indirect reports within a 500,000 square foot distribution facility.
  • Managed all operations successfully in a 22,000 square feet supermarket with 3 direct and 50 indirect reports.
  • Managed 12 specialty stores successfully throughout Western Massachusetts.


  • Trained and developed supervisors, department managers and store managers.
  • Developed a color code system that enhanced efficiencies and productivity in the geographic shipment of merchandise.
  • Initiated customer awareness program that was instrumental in increasing store sales by 100% over a two year period.


  • Widely experienced in improving worker productivity.
  • Directed the successful start-up of two departments which increased facility volume by 20%.
  • Established new work methods for power equipment operators which increased their productivity by 25%.


  • Wrote procedures for the processing of merchandise that reduced the error rate to 505 of the established standard.
  • Reduced complaints from store management and purchasing by 60% on the receipt of their supplies by the institution of new policies.
  • Annually revised, monitored and assured the attainment or undercutting of departmental budgets.


1995 to presentT.J. Maxx, Framingham, MA
District Manager
1989 to 1995The Farm Stand Corporation, Everett, MA
Processing Manager
1986 to 1989Big L Discount, Holbrook, MA
Store Manager


Marlboro College, New Hampshire
B.S. Business Administration

A suggested format for career changers is the reverse chronological resume. This resume is useful when the job you are applying for requires different skills or simply the same skills but with a different emphasis. The reverse chronological resume starts with a qualifications statement, then the education section and ends with the employment history. This format allows you to market your transferable skills in the qualifications statement.

Employer Viewpoint "I used to review resumes while driving between appointments. The job applicants had to make a quick impression, because I skimmed resumes at quick shots while driving. If it looked like it was too hard to read, or if it was messy and unprofessional looking, I didn't even bother reading it, and it was tossed into the back seat."`

Anonymous Employer, Greater Boston Area