Turn the spotlight on your skills with this simple CV format!

Think every CV out there has to follow the same structure? Think again. There's more than one way to skin a cat. And, nightmarish imagery aside, there's more than one way to format your next job application. If the reverse chronological format doesn't quite do the job, allow us to present another way to go. Introducing… the functional CV format. 

Rather than placing all of the emphasis on your prior experience, this structure allows you to highlight your skills. If that sounds good to you, you've come to the right place. In the following guide, we'll look into when you should use the format and how to get it right. Plus, we have a functional CV example template that you can use as inspiration for yours.

When should you use a functional CV?

Chances are, you're comfortable with the tried and tested chronological CV format. This structure is the most common among job seekers. It includes all of the sections you'd expect - contact details, summary, skills, work experience, and education - however, it gives the most space to the work experience section, favouring it over the other sections. 

However, a functional CV takes an entirely different approach. This structure gives more space to your skills, rather than your experience. There are a few instances in which you might find that this format works best for your needs. Here are some examples: 

  • You lack experience. Whether you're just starting out in your career or you're changing fields, you may not have the hands-on experience you need. Using a functional CV allows you to show that you can be competent in the role, despite lacking the work experience that they may expect you to have when applying. 
  • You're a job-hopper. If you've held many short-term roles in the past, it may be hard to fit all of your experience - plus extra details, such as duties - onto your CV. Using the functional CV format means that you can group the skills you've picked up and give relevant examples or information for each of them. 
  • You're a hobbyist. Let's say that you've been working a day job but doing something else on the side. If you want to apply for a job that aligns better with your hobby than it does with your work experience, a functional CV is the way to go. It's likely that you've honed your skills while doing your hobby. You can use this structure to focus on the industry skills you have, rather than your (lack of) experience in it.

Getting your CV format right is a must. Once you've picked a structure that works well for you, take a look at our ultimate guide to writing a CV for more in-depth advice.

How to write a functional CV in 5 steps 

Ready to put pen to paper and write your functional CV? Before you get started, you need to know what to include. Here's a quick rundown of the sections you should fill out: 

  • Contact details (or CV header) 

  • Professional summary 

  • Skills section 

  • Brief work experience section 

  • Education section 

Unlike a standard - or chronological - CV format, this one focuses on your skills. For that reason, you'll find that the skills section takes up more space than your work experience section. It's the main event. Follow the steps below to get it right. 

Step 1: Start with your contact details

First things first, you need to include your name and contact details. This vital information goes in your CV header, which sits at the top of the page. You should make sure that this information is easy to read and 100% correct (a careless typo in your email address will make a world of difference here!).

Include your full name, location, and your contact details. You should offer up your phone number and your preferred email address. If you manage to wow the hiring manager with the rest of your CV, they'll be itching to pick up the phone or tap out an email to invite you to an interview.

Step 2: Write your professional summary 

Next, you should tackle the professional summary. This consists of a 3-4 line blurb that sits directly below your CV header. It's also likely the first thing that the hiring manager will see when they are reviewing your job application, so make it count!

Avoid writing a wordy memoir about your professional life thus far. Chances are, the hiring manager doesn't have time to read that. Plus, if this section is a complete snooze-fest, they're unlikely to read the rest of your CV. Instead, lead with your USP (or unique selling point). What talent or skill do you have that makes you perfect for this position, and how do you use it?

Align your professional summary with the core job requirements. You can usually find these clearly listed as part of the job advert. Your aim is to show the hiring manager that you have the skills that they're looking for and that you know how to apply them well. 

Step 3: Highlight your skills (and expand on them!)

When you've perfected your opening summary, it's time to move onto the meat of your functional CV - the skills section. This part of the document is the star of the show. 

Of course, you should include both hard and soft skills in this section. Hard skills (or technical skills) are directly applicable to the job. Soft skills, on the other hand, are better described as personality traits. An example of a hard skill may be “data analysis,” while a soft skill could be “verbal communication”. 

In a standard CV, you would simply bullet-point each of your skills. However, the functional CV format gives more weight to this section. For that reason, you'll have the space to expand on each of your skills. Add in details of how you honed the talent and, if possible, when you've applied it. The more context you give here, the better your chances. 

You may choose to add a few bullet points beneath each umbrella skill. For example, if you include “interpersonal communication” as a skill, you can add three instances when you used this as bullet points below the header. This move shows that you have extensive experience and knowledge of the talents that you've highlighted in the section. 

Step 4: Briefly detail your experience 

Functional CVs highlight your skills - but you can still include a work experience section. Since you've dedicated so much space to your skills section, you'll need to keep things brief. The information you need to include, whatever format you use, are as follows: 

  • Job title

  • Company name

  • Dates of employment

If you were writing a reverse chronological CV, you would expand on each work experience using bullet-point sentences. But with a functional CV, you don't need to do that. You can simply include the information above and leave it there. 

Step 5: Include an education section 

Education matters - no matter what type of CV format you decide to use. You can list your training and qualifications in reverse chronological order here. That means that you need to start with the most recent qualification you completed and work your way back in time as you move down the page. Here are the details you need to include: 

  • The qualification (subject and level)

  • The institute or school

  • The date of completion 

In some cases, you may want to add specific details about a qualification you hold. For example, if a module you undertook is directly applicable to the position for which you're applying, you can mention it here. However, you should avoid over-explaining your training. As we've already mentioned, the hiring manager doesn't have all the time in the world to read your CV. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

Functional CV example templateFunctional CV

The takeaway 

Do you want to shout about your talents? We've got you covered. The functional CV format can help you to showcase your diverse skill-set to the hiring manager quickly and easily. Follow the steps we've outlined in this guide when writing your next CV and you'll be onto a winner. Emphasising your skills is a smart way to win over a recruiter. 

Ready to ensure your CV hits the mark? Recruiters spend a matter of seconds looking at each new application. To make the right impression, check out our free CV review now. Get ahead of the competition and boost your chance of success.

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