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How to Write a Functional Resume

Tips that will help you land a job using a functional resume

Given the reality of today's economic environment, finding a job can be challenging. That is why it is so important to have a functional resume that stands out and really showcases your best talents and experience.

This article will guide you through the process of writing a functional resume; we also provide an example of a functional resume. This kind of resume is ideally suited to individuals with gaps in their employment history, college/university students just entering the job market, people with limited employment backgrounds but significant volunteer experience, overqualified candidates, older workers looking to deemphasize a lengthy job history, individuals transitioning out of military careers into civilian careers, individuals changing careers, or any other situation where soft/transferable skills can be used to meet the requirements of the job specifications.

Functional headings

Both the beauty and the drawback of a functional resume is that the headings change depending on the job to which you are applying. This means the functional resume is infinitely customizable; however, it also means you have to redo your resume for every job posting because each resume, like each posting, is unique.

When writing a resume, you need to decide which experience is relevant and which is not. If you are applying for a management position, then you are likely going to have a heading titled "Management." If you are applying for a consulting position, then you are likely going to have a heading titled "Consulting."

Some other possible headings (and this is not meant to be an exhaustive list) include the following: Administration, Advertising, Communications, Construction, Consulting, Counselling, Designing, Editing, Education, Electronics, Engineering, Human Resources, Insurance, Journalism, Law, Management, Marketing, Medicine, Music, Nutrition, Organization, Planning, Production, Promotion, Public Relations, Publishing, Research, Sales, Secretarial, Strategic Planning, Training, Transport, Travel, and Writing.

Standard headings

In addition to customizable headings, certain standard headings are also included in a functional resume. These headings generally occur after the functional headings and can include Training, Education/Qualifications, and Interests.

Under the Training heading, be sure you only include your most recent training. Some people don't have a Training heading, and instead combine that information with the information contained in Education/Qualifications. Under the Education/Qualifications heading, only include your most recent entries. Also, if you are a university/college graduate, there is no need to include the fact you are also a high school graduate (unless you feel it is somehow important to the job).

Keep the information found under the Interests heading brief; remember, avoid wordiness at all costs.

Putting it all together

Once you have chosen which functional headings to use in the resume, you must decide which heading is the most relevant. That heading should come first.

For example, if you are applying for a management position and you have management experience, you shouldn’t put your human resources experience first, and you probably don't need to include your music experience.

Once you've decided which headings you are going to use and what order you're going to put them in, the final step is deciding how many points to include under each heading. Typically, you should have two to five points under each heading. If you have more than six, consider how you might use one of those points under another heading.


The functional resume is the new kid on the block and many employers do not know how to deal with this format; if the application is online, there may not even be an option to include a functional resume.

Typically, the types of employers who appreciate and encourage the use of functional resumes are companies in more progressive fields, such as new media, marketing, or graphic design. That being said, employers in more traditional fields are moving in this direction.

To be prepared when aggressively job searching, it is always best to have a chronological resume and a functional resume ready; no matter the type of resume you use, you should always write a cover letter.

Finally, remember that nothing ruins your chances of being hired more than a resume/cover letter filled with spelling and punctuation errors. But don’t worry, we are here to help. Our resume editors can help you create the most professional looking resume/cover letter possible, no matter what format you choose.



Image source: Luis Llerena/

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