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How to write a skills based resume?

For many, searching for a job can seem like a daunting task. With employers sifting through hundreds (or even thousands) of resumes, it's imperative to make yourself stand out from the crowd. A skills-based resume (also known as a functional resume) is a great way to showcase your relevant skills to potential employers, especially if you have limited work history.

Who should use a skills-based resume?

Generally speaking, skills-based resumes are ideal for people with limited work history, or little work history in the career field they are pursuing. These resumes are also helpful for people who are switching career fields as well as people who have long gaps in their employment history.

How to write an effective skills-based resume

Your resume is essentially your first chance to impress a potential employer. As such, it's important to take the time to make sure your resume is succinct, effective, and successfully outlines all of your relevant skills. We've broken down a few steps to help you get started.

1. Determine your skills

Since a functional resume is organized around your skills, start by compiling a list of the skills you wish to highlight. Feel free to brainstorm and come up with a long list, then narrow it down to the most relevant ones.

Pick three or four different skills to expand upon, and list the specific experience you have with each one. You will use this list to form the main part of your resume, so take your time and make sure it's solid.

2. Compile a list of professional accomplishments

Think of any concrete accomplishments you've achieved related to the position you are applying for. For example, did you increase your sales team's revenue by 100% in your first quarter? Did you receive a prestigious award only awarded to exceptional employees?

These accomplishments should be measurable proof of your success. Avoid vague statements, such as "provided strong leadership to a team." Instead, look for concrete examples, like "increased team productivity by 100% following the implementation of an incentive-based program."

3. Put it all together

Once you have put together a solid list of your skills and accomplishments, it's time to put it all together into a cohesive resume.

Contact information

Similarly to a chronological resume, a functional resume should start off with your name and contact information in an easy-to-read format. Use a simple, professional-sounding email address (ideally your first and last name).

Professional profile

Follow with a brief summary or professional profile to catch the reader's attention. This summary should be short and highlight the most attention-grabbing parts of your professional history. Think of it as the "hook" in a novel.

Skills

Next comes the backbone of your functional resume: listing your skills. This is where your brainstorm list comes in. List each skill as its own heading, followed by short bullet points with the examples you brainstormed earlier. For example, if you wish to highlight your management skills, you might write:

Management Skills

  • Managed a team of five employees at X Company
  • Oversaw recruiting, hiring and firing of employees
  • Organized regular meetings to assess progress among employees

Repeat this with all of the skills from the first step.

Now's the time to list those accomplishments you wrote down earlier. These can be put together in a simple bullet point list. For example:

Accomplishments and awards

  • Received "Manager of the Year Award" for 2016 at ABC Company
  • Increased sales revenue by 300%
  • Reduced department costs by 10% in 2016

Keep each bullet short and to the point; this is a place for statistics and numbers, not fluff.

Work history

List your employment history in chronological order, similarly to a traditional resume. Feel free to list internships (paid or unpaid) or personal projects if you have a limited work history. Keep this section brief; list only job titles, company, and dates of employment, starting with your most recent position first.

Education, training and certifications

List your education, including your degree and major as well as the institution you attended. If you have earned any special certifications, such as OSHA certification or management training, list that here as well.

Extras

Now that you've crafted the bulk of your resume, feel free to briefly list any other relevant bits of information. Keep in mind these should all be directly related to the position you are applying for; avoid listing irrelevant hobbies. For example:

  • Professional affiliations
  • Community service
  • Articles published
  • Professional development courses

4. Proofread and polish

Use a clean, professional font. If possible, keep the entire resume to one page.

It should go without saying that you need to proofread your resume more than once before sending it off to a potential employer. Have a trusted friend or colleague look it over for typos or confusing language.

Joost
My name is Joost and I have been active as a recruiter for the past 5 years. At Resume.io, I share my experience, tips and the "secret" tricks to help you get a job. Do you have questions? Please send me an email via the contact form.