Types of CVs Part 2: The Functional or Skills-Based CV

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Has your career been a jungle gym instead of a ladder? Fear not, the functional CV may still get you into the interview room. For some, a linear trip through their past job titles isn’t the most effective way to tell their career story. They need to find a different way to communicate their skills and expertise on their resume. They need a different resume format.

A skills-based CV is a good format for highlighting your most relevant skills and experience from all areas of your life. This type of CV focuses on and highlights the skills and achievements that you have gained throughout your whole working career irrespective of where and when you acquired them. 

A skills-based CV starts with a list of skills and achievements under various headings, followed by brief educational and work experience or employment details (these are still essential),.

Sample CV

By focusing on the right skills, you can show that you have considered the employer’s specific needs. If you’re going through a career change, you can shift the focus from the types of job you have done to the experience and skills that you have gained at work and elsewhere.

As the format does not emphasise chronology, it will not draw attention to periods of inactivity that a chronological CV might highlight.

A functional CV places the emphasis on your skills and expertise rather than the chronology of your employment to date. It is used in situations where specific skills and accomplishments gained through experience or academic qualifications will demonstrate your competencies. Your skills should be listed in order of their importance.  This CV format is especially suitable, for entry level candidates, students entering the job market for the first time or recent graduates with little work experience, who want to emphasize their transferable skills. The functional resume is ideal for those who are looking for a career change.

When should you use it

  • If you have minimal experience in the field but possess the required skills.
  • If you are changing career fields or industry.
  • If you’re applying for work in a field which is quite different from your subject of study.
  • If your work experience is unconventional and is highlighted through unrelated jobs.
  • If you have gaps you do not want to highlight in your employment history
  • If you have an extensive employment history which you need to summarise

Disadvantages of Functional CVs

  • They don’t provide enough context and it’s easy to BS (excuse my french) your way through a functional CV than a chronological CV.
  • As they are not the ‘ golden standard’ they are sometimes construed as wrong.
  • Most Recruiters scan for work experience and education, thus your skills maybe completely ignored.

Thus, choose wisely.