Functional CV: tips on how to write a good functional CV

Updated 23 July 2023

A functional CV is formatted in a way that highlights your strengths and skills pertinent to a job. It often allows you to show the recruiters that you're an excellent candidate for the job. When reviewing CVs, hiring managers and recruiters note candidates who paid attention to the job description and skills essential to the job. In this article, we discuss when to use a functional CV and get tips on how to write one that can give you an advantage over other candidates.

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What is a functional CV?

Sometimes referred to as a skills-based CV, this is a CV format that emphasises individual skills rather than previous job titles and experience. It draws the prospective employer's attention towards content specific to the job description, including your career achievements, skills, experience, knowledge, technical know-how and soft skills.

Similar to other CVs, it features your name, address, phone number and email address at the header and lists your skills, interests and education towards the end of the CV. It differs from other CVs in the body content, as it highlights your most essential skills with about three to six bullet points that emphasise how you applied the skills in various positions.

Related: CV styles: types and which one to choose (With examples)

Why do you need a skills-based CV

Although this type of CV highlights your strong points for a job, it often hides the important information that the hiring manager wants to see. Most recruiters want to learn about your previous work experience, roles, achievements and how long you held that position. These details are often found at the bottom of a functional cv and may take time before it's seen by the hiring manager. Hiring managers have many CVs to review, which means that they screen through for important details.

Writing out the best qualifications still has its perks because it helps individuals who lack the appropriate job experience and shows that their expertise goes beyond the traditional requirement. It sets you apart from other candidates because it contains a richer professional summary and a detailed skills section to make you stand out.

Related: 15 VBA skills to include in your CV with helpful examples

When to use a skills-based CV

Use a functional cv for the following reasons:

When you have a significant gap in your work history

It's a great way to pique the interest of your prospective employer if you haven't held a traditional job in a long time. It allows the hiring manager to note your skills before reviewing your previous employment dates. You can start by arranging your skills according to the skills of interest in the job description.

When you're a new graduate without enough professional experience

It can be an excellent way to be creative with your CV if you're a newbie or recent graduate. You can be flexible in showcasing your skills and experience that depict what the hiring manager wants in that job position. You can also add your rewards at the end of your CV.

For example, highlighting your research skills, the time you volunteered at a research institute, time management skills as a student, your leadership skills as the team leader of your project group or your communication skills as a campaign manager.

Read More: Writing a CV with No Experience

When your relevant skills are not rooted in professional work

This type of CV is your best option when you have skills and experience obtained from work or sources other than professional employment. It could be a mentorship programme or a workshop experience. You can bring together your different experiences and skills that may impress the recruiter positively.

For example, for a job that requires creativity, you can write about your creative skills at an art workshop, your photography skills or your skills as a graphic designer.

When you have many short-term employments

Short-term employment is common with freelancers or skilled temporary or contract workers. If you're a temporary worker or freelancer, you can organise previous work experience and skills chronologically to showcase your expertise. You can also back it up with an excellent cover letter.

Related: A guide to writing an excellent CV using a CV checklist

When you're making a major career change and have no experience in your new career path

This applies when you have many transferable skills in your previous work experience or career path. You can briefly describe how you applied your skills in your last job position. This type of CV format allows you to stand out and positively impress potential employers.

How to write a skills-based CV

You may want to follow the steps below when writing your CV:

1. Study the job description

One of the first steps is to learn more about the job requirements and research the job position and the hiring company. Learn about the company's mission, values and goals and align them to your skills. Reviewing the job description helps you note the relevant keywords, understand the skills that the company is looking for and gives you insight into how to organise your CV creatively.

Related: Useful words to describe yourself in CVs and how to use them

2. Write out your skills and information that are relevant to the job

After reviewing the job description, write out your skills that are essential to the job. Consider putting first the skills that can impress the hiring manager who's reviewing your CV. For example, a hiring manager looking for a designer may be interested in your photography and editing skills. Writing out relevant information such as your prior work experience, education, and relevant certifications helps you fill out your skill-based CV correctly and in an organised format.

3. Start with your contact information

Your contact information is an essential part of your CV. Information found in this section includes your full name, home address and email address. Write your contact information correctly.

Related: FAQ: Should You Include Your Date of Birth on Your CV?

4. Write out your CV summary

Most employers review CV summaries before going through the rest of the application. Writing a well-structured summary with the appropriate content can help draw the attention of your potential employer and help you stand a chance for that position. When writing your CV summary, use short sentences that highlight your relevant skills creatively. It influences how the hiring manager sees you, your CV and your experiences.

Related: CV Summary Examples (And 5 Steps for How To Write One)

5. Fill out your skills and work experience

Group your skills and fill out how you apply them in bullet points. This helps the employer to spot your skills on time. Avoid writing out your skills in bullet points if they are not related. For example, under a category for excellent customer service skills, you may add the following bullet points:

  • Recognised and reduced distress in unsatisfied customers after a successful conversion with them

  • Ensured that customers found products that suited their needs.

  • Increased customer ratings for the company products.

Place the section for your work experience below the skills section. List out your work experience including dates of employment, company, position and key achievements. Regardless of the gaps, adding your work history lets the employer know more about you and your work.

6. List your education and relevant certifications

Add the education section below your prior work experience. You can write out the name of your institution and the date of graduation. If you're a recent graduate, consider adding a section for awards, relevant certifications and interests.

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Example of a functional CV

Consider the CV example below:

Paisley McPhee

22 Park Avenue, Manchester M23 3XP

9876 543210


Innovative customer service representative fluent in French and Spanish with over three years of experience in resolving customer enquiries. Passionate about building strong customer relationships, building brand loyalty and increasing customer engagement and reviews.


Process Streamlining

  • Created customer service email scripts used across the company to interact with customers.

  • Created a customer service training manual and reduced the average customer representative call time by one minute with intuitive online training

Complaint Resolution

  • Answered about 20 calls per day from unsatisfied customers related to delays in shipment, order mistakes and lost orders.

  • Achieved 97% average increase in customer ratings

Service-Based Selling

  • Exceeded application targets by 15% with innovative up-selling techniques.

  • Pioneered solutions that improved the system for following up with the demands of unsatisfied customers.

Data Entry

  • Filled out daily reports related to customer orders and payments history in Microsoft Excel and prepared appropriate reports in charts and presentation form.

  • I worked with the shipment team to ensure that the products arrived on time.

Work experience

Bluescale Enterprises, 2017

Customer Service Manager:

Managed customer relationships via phone and email to obtain payments and resolve enquiries.

Chris Ware software, 2016

Customer Service Representative:

Resolved customer enquiries via phone and email.

Pioneered processes for better customer satisfaction

I prepared sales letters for pitching companies about various software.


Oxford University, 2009–2013

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.


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