How to Write a Skills-Based Resume

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 30, 2022 | Published June 21, 2021

Updated November 30, 2022

Published June 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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In this video, Sinéad explains what a functional resume is, when to use one and six steps to crafting a functional resume.

When seeking a new role, tailoring your resume to each opportunity is important. This could mean including specific work experience and credentials or changing the format of your resume. A skills-based resume, or functional resume, is a great option if you have little relevant work experience in the field you're applying to. It allows you to highlight your skills instead of your experience like a traditional resume. In this article, we look into what a skills-based resume is, when you should use it, and how to create one with a template and examples.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Functional Resumes

What is a skills-based resume?

A skills-based resume is a type of resume that highlights your relevant skills by placing them before your work experience. This is different from traditional resumes that first emphasize your work history, usually chronologically.

Skills-based resumes open with your contact information and a brief qualifications summary. You then list your skills or accomplishments and explain why they're relevant to the role. You still include relevant work experience (if you have any), but list it at the bottom. Skills-based resumes aren't as detailed, so you typically only need to include the company's name and your role there. Since this type of resume focuses on hard and soft skills, it's an excellent option for people with little relevant job experience. This could include recent graduates or people changing careers who have no work experience in the new field they're pursuing.

Related: How to Include Character Traits in a Resume

Different types of resumes

To fully understand what a skills-based resume is, it's important to know about the three main types of resumes. They are:

  1. Chronological resume: A chronological resume lists your work experience with the most recent position at the top. It's typically the most common type of resume.

  2. Skills-based or functional resume: This type focuses on your key skills and accomplishments that you've gained in or outside a working environment.

  3. Combination: A combination of the two primary styles of resume. It highlights skills by putting them first but also includes a chronological work history underneath.

Related: How to Describe Your Work Experience on a Resume

When to use a skills-based resume

If you're not sure whether a skills-based resume is right for you, take a look at some situations where it's best to use one:

  • Your work experience includes a lot of scattered or short-term positions, such as temporary work or internships.

  • You have relevant skills for the role you're applying to but developed them at school, in your personal life, or when volunteering.

  • You're switching careers, and you have little to no work experience in your new field.

  • You have large gaps in your work history that you can't explain.

  • You recently graduated from high school, college, or university and don't yet have work experience.

  • You worked for multiple companies, but your role was the same at each.

  • You have only worked at one company long-term, so your resume is short.

Ultimately, if you have a lot of relevant work experience with no gaps, you shouldn't use a skills-based resume. Only consider a skills-based resume if a traditional one would be small or lacking for the role you're applying to.

Related: 7 Steps for Creating a Resume as a Student

Tips for writing a skills-based resume

Here are some helpful tips to follow when writing your own skills-based resume:

  • Put the most relevant skills and abilities at the top of your resume

  • Include accomplishments you can quantify

  • Look at job postings you want to apply for and include words that come up frequently

  • Use a template like the one below to guide you in choosing key information and formatting

  • Create a cover letter to catch a hiring manager's eye and explain why you're a good fit for the position

  • Limit your skills-based resume to one page

  • Avoid providing too much detail

Related: What Is the Standard Canadian Resume Format? (With 7 Tips)

How to write a skills-based resume (template)

If you want to create your own skills-based resume, use the following template to ensure you're including all the necessary information:

  1. First and last name

  2. Contact information (phone number and email)

  3. Qualifications summary: This section should highlight your relevant credentials and skills so hiring managers can quickly skim your resume and determine if they're interested. It should be specific to the role you're applying for and include three to five relevant achievements or skills.

  4. Relevant skills: Next, highlight three to four skills and explain how they're relevant to the role. List specific examples of how you used or developed this skill in your previous role.

  5. Work experience: If you have work experience, you can include one or two examples here. As the focus isn't on your employment history, you don't need to include your duties or the dates you worked in the role. You can follow this format, for example:
    Company name, city, province/territory
    Job title
    Company name, city, province/territory
    Job title

  6. Education: Keep this section simple as well, so you aren't detracting from your skills.
    Degree or diploma type, major
    School name, city, province/territory
    Date you completed the program

  7. Additional information: If you have relevant volunteer experience, awards, or anything else you think is relevant to the position you're applying for, include it here.

Related: How to Write a Resume

Skills-based resume examples

Example 1

To get a better idea of what your skills-based resume should look like, here's an example of one for an editor with some work experience:

Michelle Green
(416) 123-4567
michellegreen@email.com

Qualifications summary

  • Proven record of increasing annual book sales by 20%

  • Top marks in the Simon Fraser University editing program

  • Excellent attention to detail and analytical skills displayed by comparing first drafts of client's work to the final draft

Relevant skills

Writing skills

  • Wrote blurbs, short biographies, and summaries for authors after editing their book.

  • Wrote notes and emails to authors about potential changes and additions.

  • Received the Aspiring Canadian Poets Award in 2017.

Analytical skills

  • Edited author's manuscripts in three stages to ensure there were no mistakes.

  • Ability to catch the smallest mistake, such as a capital letter that should be a lowercase letter.

  • Helped other editors find mistakes in their work.

Creative skills

  • Held meetings with authors to give them creative ways to improve their manuscripts.

  • Wrote and edited enticing marketing material for authors.

  • Self-published short stories with over 1,000 readers a month.

Interpersonal skills

  • Regularly communicated with clients, team members, and managers over email, the phone, in-person, and on video chats.

  • Discussed potential manuscript changes with clients in a way that didn't offend them.

  • Had the highest number of regular clients at the office.

Employment history

ABC Publishing, Brampton, Ontario
Junior Editor

XYZ Books, Toronto, Ontario
Editing Intern

Education

Bachelor of Arts, English Literature
University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
2012-2016

Editing Certificate
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia
2017

Example 2

Here is another skills-based resume example, but for a person who is switching careers from sales to nursing:

Joe Blue
(416) 123-4567
joeblue@email.com

Qualifications summary

  • An established career in sales that honed my interpersonal and communication skills.

  • Registered Nurse with the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of British Columbia.

  • 4.0 GPA in all my classes.

Relevant skills

Written and verbal communication skills

  • Wrote emails, essays, memos, and marketing material in school and in my previous sales role.

  • Ability to communicate with a variety of people including colleagues, clients, teachers, students, and patients.

  • Followed detailed instructions from managers, teachers, and physicians supervising me.

Confidence

  • Ability to get to know anyone to provide accurate treatment.

  • Confidence in my knowledge allows me to make the best decisions quickly.

  • Allows patients to trust me as I present a reassuring front.

Endurance

  • Worked in a fast-paced, stressful environment for long periods.

  • Door-to-door sales had me standing and walking for extended amounts of time.

  • Ability to lift up to 50 pounds easily.

Organizational skills

  • Created daily to-do lists to organize my tasks and ensure all tasks get done.

  • Easily multi-tasked to focus on a handful of projects at once.

  • Used computer software and programs to keep track of clients' details and provide the best service possible.

Employment history

ABC Sales, Vancouver, British Columbia

Sales Consultant

XYZ Insurance, Victoria, British Columbia

Door-to-door Salesperson

Education

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
University of British Columbia, Kelowna, British Columbia
2012-2016

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