A skills-based resume, also known as a functional resume, is a lesser-used format that emphasizes skill sets rather than your job history. This format is best reserved for certain situations, such as career changes or large gaps in employment. Perhaps you spent several years in law enforcement and now want to become a teacher. Or maybe you ran a freelance business, took time off to raise children, and want to enter a new field.
Unlike the standard resume format that details your jobs in reverse chronological order, a skills-based resume groups your accomplishments under skill headings while leaving employment details minimal. Review our list of tips and an example of a skills-based resume to see if it’s a good fit.
Writing a skills-based resume is slightly different from the more common reverse chronological resume. With this format, you’ll be sharing examples of how you’ve applied each of your key skills, followed by a quick list of past employers. It focuses on your professional accomplishments but is packaged a bit differently.
A skills-based resume typically includes these sections:
Start your resume with your current contact information, including your full name, phone number, email address, location, and a link to your online professional profile and/or website.
LinkedIn | Portfolio
City, State Abbreviation Zip Code
Right below your contact information, capture a hiring manager’s attention with a two to three-sentence profile that summarizes your professional accomplishments and the contributions you offer. Focus on what makes you a valuable asset and use key phrases from the job postings you’re targeting.
Dedicated technical support professional with nine years of experience. Seeking to leverage skills in customer relations to attain a product sales position. Recognized for ability to find creative solutions and communicate complex instructions in a user-friendly manner. Adept with customer relationship management (CRM) software.
When you’re creating a skills-based or functional resume, the skills are at the forefront. Instead of listing your skills in a simple bulleted list, you’ll add “skill sections” that go into detail about each of your major skill sets. For example, your section headers might be “technical skills,” “managerial skills,” or “sales,” and you’ll include bulleted examples beneath each.
|Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)
In your skills-based resume, be strategic about word choice to effectively communicate the value your capabilities have brought to the organizations you’ve worked with. Action verbs that are impactful and can describe your accomplishments well can help you stand out as a candidate. The right words can also bring a sense of energy and excitement to your resume. Some strong action verbs to consider include:
Example of skills-based resume skills section:
The professional experience section of a skills-based resume is just a simple list of past employment. Include your job title, employer name, and dates of employment.
Technical Support Manager, Summit Technology, Reno, NV
October 2022 – present
Technical Support Specialist, Northern Lights Software, Reno, NV
January 2020 – April 2022
Technical Support Representative, Apex Networking Solutions, Austin, TX
March 2014 – November 2018
Whenever possible, sharing data points that quantify your workplace contributions is more powerful than simply listing job duties.
It’s important to align your resume for each job posting of interest. One way to achieve this is by using some of the same target keywords mentioned in the job description. This strategy can help you stand out from other candidates by making you seem like a strong fit.
When you’re using a skills-based format, the best resume template is concise and well-organized. Because you are already using a non-traditional resume setup, keep the look clean and professional with clear section headers.
If you are just entering the workforce and don’t have a lot of experience, a skills-based resume might not be the best approach for you. But whichever format you choose, include internships, volunteer work, academic projects, and side gigs in lieu of traditional employment.
List your educational degrees and certificates, especially those that pertain to the field you’re interested in. Include the title of the credential you earned, the name of the institution, and the date of completion. If you’ve completed any recent continuing education courses or training, especially if you’re changing careers, include those as well.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Computer Science, September 2010 – January 2014
The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX