Are you changing career paths? Jumping back into the industry after a gap? While functional resumes aren’t always advisable, they might work for you. Read on to find out if you need to write one, and see a great functional resume example.

By: Ashley Dolar for Let’s Eat, Grandma


Are you working on your resume right now? Are you worried that your work experience might not be a perfect match for the job description? Before you go any further, you need to know the difference between a traditional resume and a functional resume. 

Say what!? Yes, there is more than one way to structure a resume. 

You can’t change your skills, achievements, or work experience, but you can change the way you present them. Think of it as your job hunting secret weapon. 

So, let’s take a closer look at the traditional resume versus the functional resume. 

In a traditional resume, your work history is presented in the standard, reverse-chronological order. Hiring managers and other HR professionals generally prefer this method because it’s easy to understand and easy to skim. In other words, they know what you bring to the table without much effort on their parts. 

But, what if you’re lacking industry experience or have gaps in your employment history? That’s okay, especially for new college grads, career switchers, and stay-at-home parents who are looking to re-enter the workforce.

Remember, employers are looking to add value to their team, and even if you don’t have the “perfect” work history, you can still make the cut. Here’s where a functional resume can come in handy. (Read on to see a functional resume example!)

A functional resume is set up to especially highlight the skills and accomplishments that make you a strong candidate for a specific position. That means that the structure may further vary from a traditional resume. You also might have an expanded professional profile or a sidebar that lists core competencies. 

Of course, you still need to detail your work and/or volunteer experience, but the order is up to you. Say goodbye to the strict timeline format and hello to wiggle room!

A Word of Caution…

In some circles, a functional resume carries a bit of a bad rap. This comes from the misconception that a functional resume is meant to hide information.

That’s just not true. Like all resume formats, it should be an honest representation of work history, including accurate dates. However, this format gives you leeway to present that information in a different, more prudent order. 

Let’s say that you are applying for a position in pharmaceutical sales. With your new found resume freedom, you can choose to list your three years of media sales experience ahead of your more recent stint as an assistant librarian.

When done correctly, a functional order like this can show your potential employer that you have the right experience, even if it’s not the most recent.

Ready to see a functional resume example?

A functional resume example, professionally rewritten for a real client by Let's Eat, Grandma

Here’s a functional resume example that we wrote for a real client here at Let’s Eat, Grandma (client’s name changed). 

It begins with a professional profile that has been curated for a particular job description. It shows that she has experience in the financial sector and a strong background in building and maintaining client relationships. 

You’ll also notice that there are two sections for work experience: one is “Professional Experience” and the second is “Other Relevant Experience.” This is a big shift from the traditional resume. 

Here, you get to forego classic chronological order and move experiences that most closely match the targeted job to the top of your resume. Then the hiring manager can focus on the most important work experiences rather than the other, less meaningful details. And that, job-seekers, is how a small format change can lead to a big job interview. 

Is a functional resume is right for you? 

As always: it depends. (I wish I could be more straight-forward, but it really does depend!) 

Personally, I’ve used both types of resumes in my 12 years of real-world work experience. I started in marketing, jumped to education, and most recently, landed in freelance writing.

Since my background spans several industries, I usually highlight the most relevant work experience near the top of my resume. That way, a potential employer can see how my qualifications match the job description right away.

So, next time a promising job alert pops up in your notifications, remember that a functional resume is worth considering. If you still aren’t sure which one is the best route for you, Let’s Eat, Grandma is always here to help. 


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For even more information on all of your job search-related questions, check out more articles on our Blog and our weekly Career Warrior Podcast!