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A skills-based CV, also known as a functional CV, is a CV style that focuses on displaying your skills, rather than previous work history. Functional CVs may help you mask employment gaps and they come in handy when your experience isn’t directly relevant to the position.
Here’s how the functional CV format differs from the other two most popular ones:
Functional CV—highlights your skills
Chronological CV—highlights your work experience
Combination CV—highlights your skills and ties them to your experience
2. Functional CV Template: Is It a Good Idea to Use This CV Format?
This is what a typical functional CV template consists of:
And here come two functional CV examples:
Mary J. Elliot
Results-driven UCLA graduate in English Literature seeking to leverage over two years of professional experience as a freelance writer and brand ambassador. Experienced in developing various types of online and offline marketing content (my portfolio here). Eager to join Pivot Media as a PR specialist to assist in developing digital PR solutions.
Experienced in writing various types of PR and marketing content, including press releases, long-form articles, blog posts, reviews, brochures, and emails. Can deliver up to 16 full-length articles of ca. 3K words monthly.
Proficient at conducting effective and efficient in-depth research into brands, market trends, etc. Able to cooperate with clients from various industries.
Familiar with all major social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Google+. Managed and optimised ad campaigns on each of these.
Able to devise innovative solutions to various types of challenges. Collaborated with creative directors and graphic designers on producing and implementing several ATL and BTL campaigns.
Outstanding at coordinating multiple responsibilities at the same time. Able to effectively plan and prioritise tasks to deliver results within tight deadlines.
Nike Inc., Los Angeles, CA
Self-employed, Los Angeles, CA
UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
MA in English Literature
Sample Functional CV
Communicative and collaborative digital artist and illustrator with a BA in Fine Arts from the University of California, Berkeley. Experienced in creating a large variety of creative online and offline projects, including visual presentations, publications, and communications (go to my portfolio). Would love to join University of California staff in the role of Art Director to execute and oversee the design and creation of digital and print collateral.
Design concepts and software
Proficient at developing effective and engaging visual communication campaigns. Delivered 10+ end-to-end projects that required planning, designing (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat), as well as contacts with vendors.
Communication and mentoring
Advanced interpersonal communication skills including active listening and teamwork skills, as well as the ability to effectively provide advanced design advice and consultation to clients on all aspects of visual communications.
Presentation and organisation
Excellent at devising broad design ideas, presenting them to clients and stakeholders, as well as producing results on time and within budget.
Creativity and practical design skills
Able to deliver imaginative and efficient solutions to a variety of design challenges. Exceptionally knowledgable about production processes for various types of media and vendor requirements for different products. Expert knowledge of design principles and practises, including typography, colour palettes, layout, and materials.
Quick learner, able to swiftly gain comprehensive insights about the company, including its vision, mission, goals, as well as objectives. Thrives in a fast-paced, challenge-driven environment.
Explainer Inc., Santa Cruz, CA
University of California, Berkeley, CA
BA in Fine Arts
Apparently, each of the examples above has everything a recruiter needs: a nice CV objective, comprehensive summary of key skills, as well as the experience and education sections.
Well, there’s a big problem.
There’s no evidence of any of these skills in the entire document.
In fact, each skill description is so vague that with some minor modifications it could be used by just about anybody else.
Recruiters dislike the functional CV template.
First off, it’s difficult for them to skim.
According to the latest study by The Ladders, recruiters spend only about 7 seconds scanning a CV, and they look for job titles first.
A skills-based CV, as the name rightly suggests, doesn’t focus on job titles but… skills. And this isn’t exactly what recruiters want to focus on initially.
More than that—
For 62% of the recruiters surveyed in Jobvite’s Recruiter Nation Report, it’s the candidate’s previous job experience that’s the number one hiring factor.
Well, the functional CV template does its best to conceal career history, and draw the recruiter’s attention to the candidate’s skills.
If you don’t know how to go about writing this section, follow the structure you see in the samples above.
A CV objective is a short paragraph that comes up top and tells the recruiter what skills you can offer and how they’ll benefit the company.
Look at the samples above to see what it should look like.
Your CV objective is also a good place for a link to your portfolio if you haven’t included it in the personal information section.
Expert Hint: Don’t write a CV summary for your functional CV. CV summaries focus on your previous experience, not skills.
Obviously, the most important section of any skills-based CV.
The key to getting it right is to focus on the skills relevant to the job offer. If you don't know how to identify such skills, read our guide on how to choose the best skills for your CV. The functional CV samples above show you how you can describe your skills.
Expert Hint: It’s not enough to simply list your skills. Tell the recruiter how proficient you are, and in what circumstances you have used a given skill. Also, try to express them in numbers.
The experience section on a skills-based CV is very short. All you might want to put here are the company names, job titles, and dates worked.
You’re under no obligation to put any dates here.
This is one of the reasons why the functional CV format is often used by people with gaps in employment. And, truth be told, the recruiters are aware of this and that’s why this CV format might become an instant red flag to some of them.
The skills-based CV templates above show you what the work history section with and without dates looks like.
Expert Hint: Remember, the chronological CV’s experience section is its central part. Functional CV brings your skills in the limelight.
Just like the job experience section, it’s not the most important part of a functional CV.
It’s enough to list the university name and location, and the degree earned. Putting dates is advisable but optional.
Again, the skills-based CV examples show you how the education section with and without dates could look.
Do you have any questions about how to make a functional CV? Or maybe you’d like to share your advice on when you should write a functional CV? Give us a shout out in the comments below. We’re always happy to help!
Maciej Duszynski is a career advice writer and a resume expert at ResumeLab. With over 8 years of experience in recruitment, hiring, and training, Maciej shares insider HR knowledge to equip every job seeker with professional advice to nail the job hunt. His insights have been featured by the Chicago Tribune, SparkPeople, Toggl, Referral Rock, and Databox, among others. Maciej has helped job candidates at all stages of their career paths, from interns to directors to C-suite members, to thrive in their job. His mission is to help you find the right opportunity and create a job application that gets you the career you deserve. Maciej holds a Master’s degree in English with a specialization in communication and education management.
A CV job description is a CV section where you list your professional experience, usually in reverse-chronological order. It means you start with your most recent position and proceed backwards. Each entry should contain 3-6 bullet points. It is recommended to include 10-15 years of work history on your CV.