Skills Based Resume Writing Guide and Examples

– Skills Based Resume –

Skills based resume. This resume style is unlike the regular resume format, and it could play a vital role during your interview. This article provides you with everything you need to make a perfect skills-based resume.

how far back should a resume go

What Is a Skills-Based Resume?

This resume style focuses on specific skills you have and particular aspects of your experience.

Centering on those that are most transferable to the job you’re seeking as opposed to a chronological or reverse-chronological resume, which emphasizes your work history.

In a skills-based resume (also sometimes called a functional resume), you still include your employment—but you’ll stick it at the bottom of the page.

By eliminating the focus on your previous positions and titles, you’re able to highlight experiences and skills from all facets of your life and provide a more comprehensive view of your abilities.

Who You Should Use One?

If you have a limited work history, or the history you do have isn’t directly related to the job you’re applying for, a skills-based resume may be the best way for you to showcase what you can bring to the position.

If any of the following describe you, a skills-based resume may be a great option:

‣ You have several short-term positions, internships, or temporary assignments, rather than long-term work history.

‣ There are significant gaps in your work history, typically a year or more.

‣ You’re trying to change careers or industries and your past work job titles don’t relate.

‣ You want to make your hobby or passion your full-time job and all of your relative experience has come from volunteering or working on your own time (outside of a paid job).

‣ You’re newly embarking on your career and you don’t have a large amount of work experience (or many!).

‣ Your positions are similar in nature and listing each out individually feels redundant.


Resume structure

Headings can be effective to organise and highlighting information. Your choice of heading should be guided by the alignment between ‘what you bring’ to ‘what the employer is looking for. Examples include: Common elements of resumes

‣ Name and contact details

‣ Career Objective

‣ Qualifications

‣ Skills summary

‣ Professional experience

‣ Achievements

‣ Extracurricular activities

‣ Interests/hobbies

‣ Referees

1. Career Objective

Your profile or career objective is meant to provide the employer with a very brief overview of what you bring to the role and where you would like to go. It can also be viewed as your ‘elevator pitch’ for your five-year plan.

2. Qualifications

Your qualifications provide the employer with information about your level of education, which implies something about your cognitive capacity and may provide the employer with a sense of what you’re capable of.

It also tells an employer about the content you’ve studied. For specialist roles, such as research or accounting, the content you have studied is very relevant; for generalist roles, content is arguably not very important.

Practical considerations when describing qualifications:

‣ present your qualifications in reverse chronological order

‣ State the start and end dates (months & years) of your qualifications. If you haven’t graduated yet, you can include: “expected completion mm/yyyy”

‣ State the name of the qualification and the institution at which you obtained it.

‣ Include your majors

‣ You can choose to report your average mark. As a self-marketing tool, you will certainly want to report your average mark if it is high.

‣ You can include college-level qualifications, reporting your university entry score, though you probably don’t need to provide details on your high school certificate

3. Skills Summary

The skills summary forms an opportunity to showcase examples of relevant skills. Employers want to attract employees with work experience so that they can be confident that those employees will be able to perform to their standard.

You may simply not have much work experience, particularly if you’re in the early stages of your career.

A skills summary can convince an employer that you can function effectively in the position despite a relative lack of work experience.

It allows you to highlight a number of transferable skills needed for the job you’re applying for that you have developed in a broad range of areas, including work, studies, volunteering, and other extracurricular activities.

The skills you present in your skills summary are said to be ‘transferable’ skills, i.e. they can be ‘transferred’ from the experiences in which you developed them to a new situation (the position you’re applying for).

For example, you will have developed teamwork skills in tutorials at uni; these teamwork skills are required in any workplace.

Practical considerations when describing your skills:

‣ Provide an explicit example (or two) for each skill you wish to emphasize: employers need to see evidence for your claim that you possess a certain skill.

‣ Be specific in your example: employers can assess your suitability better if you state ‘how much’ and ‘how many’ (e.g. 2 oral presentations or 100?)

4. Professional Experience

Tailor your experience to what the employer seeks. Therefore, it is your job to provide the most relevant information; potentially even leaving information out of your resume! Consider closely your experience, however, because whilst some may not seem relevant whilst they are.

Practical considerations when describing your professional experience:

‣ Present information in reverse chronological order (add months and years), state your position title and the organization you worked for

‣ Describe some of your most relevant duties – what is the employer interested in?

‣ Consider summarising similar positions you’ve held to avoid repetition

Dividing information into a skills summary and work experience, where you emphasize ‘how you did the job’ (skills summary) and ‘what you did’ (work experience) may make it easier for an employer to find the information they’re looking for.

5. Achievements

These may come from a variety of sources. You may have won a scholarship based on academic merit.

You may have won an award for community work, or a prize for sporting achievement. Ask yourself how your achievement(s) contribute to presenting yourself to an employer.

6. Extracurricular Activities

You develop skills in all kinds of experiences. Consider including experiences beyond paid work, such as volunteering and active involvement in student societies.

Like in the paid employment section, elaborate a little by stating some key responsibilities (tailored to the position you’re applying for).

7. Interests/Hobbies

Similarly, interests or hobbies can provide you with skill development that aligns with what the organization is looking for. They may also tell the employer about whether you ‘fit’ into the organization.

8. Referees

In Australia, employers prefer to speak to people who know you in a professional capacity. Include a current or previous supervisor from a paid position, if you have one.

Alternatively, a lecturer, who knows you, may also be a good referee because they can speak about several aspects of your academic and professional behavior at university.

Personal referees are sometimes also used, though you need to make sure that these personal referees are not a friend or relatives: they’re likely to always speak very positively about you. A good example is the imam of your mosque.

how far back should a resume go

Is a Skills-Based Resume Right For You?

The goal of your resume is to sell yourself as the perfect person for the job. But, what if outlining your work experience isn’t really the best way to do that?

What if you’re a recent grad—with no work experience? What if you’re trying to change careers—and want to talk about your stellar project management skills before your experience as an executive assistant?

Enter the skills-based resume. While most job seekers use the traditional reverse-chronological resume format, it’s not the only option—and there are times when an alternate format, one that highlights your skills first, might be a better fit.

So, find out whether this lesser-known resume style is right for you. And if you’re ready to give it a shot, follow these resume tips to craft a great one.

How Do You Create One?

A detailed guide on how to create a skill-based resume:

1. Pick Your Skills

First things first: Determine the job you want to target. The key skills required for the job will  help you to decide what to include on the largest chunk of the resume: the “Summary of Skills.”

Pick three to four broad skill sets that specifically relate to the job description, and that you can back up with specific accomplishments or experiences. Communication, leadership, and project management are often-used skills, but you can get more specific, too.

2. Craft Your Bullets

After you determine your skill categories, start drafting accomplishment statements (in bullet form) that describe your experience with each skill area.

Don’t worry about discussing the companies you worked for or the exact positions you held focus more on your specific achievements and results.

Also, be sure to eliminate words that are too industry-specific.

For example, if you worked in the healthcare industry but are trying to get in to sales, replace the word “patient” with the word “client” or “customer,” which are much more relatable to a wider range of audiences.

3. Include a (Short) Work History

After the skills section, draft a brief work history section.

Skip the bullet points here altogether, and just include the company name, your job title, employment dates, and the city and state of the organization. Include volunteer positions or internships in this section, too related work experience doesn’t just have to be paid jobs.

4. Add in the Extras

Lastly, add in any other headings that you think will sell or highlight your experience.

Feel free to get creative, but remember that everything listed on your resume should have a professional value (i.e., nobody cares that you love to knit, unless you are applying for a job to make scarves). Some options you might consider:

‣ Education

‣ Professional affiliations

‣ Testimonials from professional references

‣ Projects completed

‣ Professional development courses or continuing education

‣ Community involvement

‣ Articles published

And of course, keep in mind the basic resume rules: Be specific and concise, use a simple, professional font, and try to keep it to one page.

If you’re not the typical job seeker, then fitting your resume into the typical mold may seem tough. But, if you’re struggling to fit your non-traditional experience or new career goals into a traditional resume, don’t be afraid to mix it up!

When to Use a Skills-Based Resume

There are a few situations in which a skills-based resume would be most appropriate when applying for a new job. These situations include:

‣ You are changing your career or the industry in which you work and have little to no experience in the new field.

‣ You have gaps in your work history that exceed several months or a year.

‣ You have recently graduated from high school or college and have little work experience.

‣ You have only held short-term jobs or internships rather than extended periods of experience in one position.

‣ You have several previous work positions that are similar.

‣ You have held the same position for several years.

If you are experiencing one or many of these situations, a skills-based resume is likely the best option.

However, if you have a robust work history in several different positions in which you obtained increasing responsibility and advanced in ranks, you should consider using a chronological resume when applying to new positions.

how far back should a resume go

Skills-Based Resume Template

The following is a skills-based resume template that you can use when formatting your own:

[First and last name]

[Phone number]

[Email address]


Qualifications summary: Use this section to highlight your best skills and traits as they relate to the job you are applying for.

Include three to five relevant achievements or skills as well as any work or educational history that may emphasize your suitability for the position.

Relevant skills: Include three-to-four bullets that have as many specific and quantifiable examples as possible.

Skill #1

List an achievement and/or work experience that portrays evidence of how you used the skill in your work history.

Skill #2

List an achievement and/or work experience that portrays evidence of how you used the skill in your work history.

Skill #3

List an achievement and/or work experience that portrays evidence of how you used the skill in your work history.

Work experience

[Company Name, City, State]

[Job Title]

[Employment dates (optional)]

[Company name, City, State]

[Job Title]

[Employment dates (optional)]


[Degree Type, Major]

[School Name, City, State]

[Dates in which the degree was completed]

Other Relevant Sections

You can include additional sections that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Possible additional sections include accomplishments, volunteer work, professional affiliations and awards.

Note: In the employment section, you do not have to include a bulleted list of job duties for each title. You can simply list the company name and your job title.

You can also include volunteer work and internships if they are relevant to the position you are applying for.


Skills-Based Resume Example

The following is an example of a skills-based resume for a sales representative:

Charles Bradshaw

(555) 475-8755

[email protected]

12207 White Circle, New York City, New York 41789

Qualifications summary

Proven record of increasing monthly sales by 15%

Recognized as Sales Representative of the Month for consistently high customer satisfaction ratings

Solid customer service skills displayed through proven ability to anticipate and meet the needs of clients

Relevant skills

Interpersonal skills

Regularly communicate with customers, managers, and team members via phone, email, and in-person

Effectively educate clients on new products with an emphasis on how the products address their specific needs

Voted most personable employee by clients for four months in a row


Regularly exceeded sales quotas by a minimum of 5% monthly

Upsell an average of two out of five clients by recommending products that met their unique needs

Ensured all customers were satisfied with their purchases and handled any complaints in a timely and efficient manner


Set up merchandise in an appealing manner that led to a 7% increase in sales in-store

Contributed to marketing plans to draw in new customers and increase current customer retention

Participated in weekly marketing meetings

Employment history

Java Company, New York City, New York

Sales Representative

Extra Corporation, Miami, Florida

Sales Coordinator


Bachelor of Science, Business Administration

University of Miami, Miami FL



Who Should Use the Skills-Based Resume?

This resume format isn’t one-size-fits-all. A chronological resume is better for the average worker. But that doesn’t mean a skills-based resume can’t be perfect for your circumstances.

The skills-based resume is best if you’re in one of the following situations:

‣ You’re changing careers and your experience isn’t relevant to your target position.

‣ You’re trying to emphasize a skill set needed for a skills-based job.

‣ You’re lacking relevant experience for the positions you’re targeting.

‣ You have significant gaps in your work history, including recent gaps.

A Skills-Based Resume is the Best Resume Type For:

1. Creatives: your skills are most important and you have a portfolio to back them up. Where and how you developed your skills is of lesser importance.

2. Overqualified applicants: obscure lengthy experience and job titles that might otherwise disqualify you.

3. Military or veteran resumes: army and military experience can be difficult to cover on a resume since many recruiters won’t be able to make heads or tails of it.

4. Important caveat: A skills-based resume shouldn’t be used if you don’t have any professional work experience. If that sounds like you, check out our guide here: How to Write a Resume to Get Your First Job.

The benefit of a skills-based resume is that it emphasizes your skills—and skills matter to employers. 

But that’s not to say it’s the type of resume for every job seeker.

Types of Resume

Here are the other two resume types when you’re trying to figure out the best resume style for you:

‣ The chronological resume format is ideal for candidates that have an extensive employment history that is relevant to the jobs they’re applying for. 

‣ The combination resume format is suited for candidates that have great work experience with highly relevant skills they want to show off. 

Here’s a handy table with the pros and cons of each resume format to help you decide:

Chronological Resume Skills-Based Resume Combination/Hybrid Resume
Advantages ‣ Emphasizes professional experience

‣ Easy for recruiters to scan

‣ Easily scannable by ATS

‣ Emphasizes key job skills

‣ Ideal for creatives with a portfolio to show proof of skills

‣ Emphasizes both skills and work experience

‣ Covers up big gaps in employment

‣ Scannable by ATS

Disadvantages ‣ Strict formatting guidelines

‣ Even small gaps in employment are noticeable

‣ Obscures what recruiters are looking for (experience)

‣ Hard for recruiters and ATS to scan 

‣ Limited to career profiles with highly specialized skills

‣ Difficult to format a good balance between skills and experience.

What is a Functional Resume?

A functional resume is a type of resume format which showcases skills over experience. The purpose of a functional resume is to draw attention to transferable abilities rather than focusing on a chronological overview of your work history.

Because of its properties, it’s sometimes called a skills-based resume. This resume format works for people targeting a job where their work history doesn’t relate directly. Sound too good to be true, right?

The Cons of a Functional Resume

The functional resume format is the one most recruiters hate.


Consider this. Statistically speaking, recruiters spend 7 seconds scanning each resume. They don’t read resumes. They skim them for what’s most important.

In those 7 seconds, here’s what recruiters look for in particular:

‣ Your relevant qualifications

‣ Your job titles

‣ The highest level of responsibility you reached

‣ Where and when do you develop your skills

A functional resume hides what the recruiters are looking for. Worse—you lose credibility if your skills don’t link to relevant job experience.

Does that mean such resumes are totally worthless? Well, not so fast.

The point of a functional resume is to help those who don’t have the relevant work experience. It’s not about hiding your skills, it’s about showing they go beyond traditional work history. 

Here is what sets a functional resume—or skills-based resume format—apart:

‣ A richer resume introduction.

‣ A more in-depth skills section.

And that’s what matters for some jobs. To land an interview, you need to emphasize your strongest abilities—a set of hard and soft skills.

Let’s see if the functional resume can work for you.

Who is the Functional Resume Format Good For?

In general, the functional resume is best when:

‣ You’re pivoting to a new industry where your work history doesn’t match.

‣ You’re highlighting your specific skills needed for the targeted position.

‣ You’re lacking work experience relevant to the position you’re applying for.

‣ You have many gaps in your employment history.

Candidates who benefit from a functional, skill-based resume

Here are the most common types of candidates who benefit from a functional, skills-based resume:

Creative types: your portfolio is what matters most and the functional resume gives you more creative space to showcase your talent in an application.

Overqualified candidates: this will helps to show your skills and not your work history.

Military transitioned resume: detailed military work experience is difficult for you to show since recruiters don’t come across them as often.


One critical disclaimer: a functional resume won’t work if you don’t have any work history behind your belt whatsoever. Sound like you? Switch over to this beast of a guide below written by Christian.


No Work Experience? Here’s How to Write Your Resume

The major positive of a functional resume—it’s versatility. And skills do matter a lot to recruiters. Still, functional resumes are suitable for extremely few job-seekers. Luckily, there are other common resume structures to pick from:

1. Chronological resume works best for candidates with a linear, well-structured employment history who want to highlight work history and key professional achievements.

2. Combination resume is best suited for highly-experienced job-seekers: it highlights skills and links them to relevant experience.

Functional Resume Format Example—Concept Artist

Janice Sather

Concept Artist

4335 Pringle Drive

Chicago, IL, 60606 USA


[email protected]


Resume Objective

Passionate concept artist with a BA in Fine Arts from Northwestern University seeking to leverage my experience as a concept art developer with Technicolor.

Experienced in developing visual guides (see my portfolio) and creating project artwork for clients publishing needs.

Interested in developing and creating new conceptual art forms for both digital and print designs to increase brand awareness for large companies and organizations in the tech and robotics industry.

Skills Summary

Conceptual Design

‣ Created project-defining artwork for various projects in the FMCG industry, gaming industry, and technology industry.

‣ Designed and produced characters, objects, atmospheres, and the general style to provide practical content that direct and indirect groups can capitalize on.

‣ Worked with clients to design, develop, and deliver art pieces according to their specifications.

Graphic Design

‣ Worked regularly on the overall graphic, layout, and production of digital and online visual content.

‣ Spearheaded daily design on several projects in the technology industry.

‣ Art direct product photoshoots for print ads and marketing materials.


‣ Created over 3,000 portraits in both oil, pen, and ink.

‣ Developed and implemented new graphic concepts and designs for several promotional campaigns and advertisements.

‣ Collaborated with different creative teams to design and illustrate the publication of a series of comic books.

Work History

‣ Graphic Design and Illustrator

March 2018—present

Jsather Concept, Chicago, IL

‣ Freelance Conceptual Artist

May 2012—September 2017

Conde Nast, Chicago, IL


BA in Fine Arts

Northwestern University, 2010

Additional Skills

‣ Software: Photoshop (CS2), Illustrator, 3DS Max, Rhino 3D, Maya, Adobe, Flash, After Effects, Dream weaver, Microsoft Word, Excel, Adobe, PageMaker, PowerPoint


‣ Spanish: Intermediate Working Proficiency


Janice has talents. And she backs up her talents with key skills. She chose the functional resume format to highlight the different skills she has as an artist.

See her use of bullet points in the skills section? It’s easily scannable for any HR recruiter to glance through.

She may not be a seasoned candidate who has worked one job in the last several years. But—her skills show how her transition to the new role will go smoothly with all the key achievements she highlights.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

1. What do you list Microsoft skills as on a resume?

Here is a list of Microsoft Office skills you could include on your resume:

‣ Creating spreadsheets.

‣ Creating tables.

‣ Analyzing data.

‣ Macros.

‣ Pivot tables and pivot charts.

‣ Formulas.

‣ Group data.

‣ Functions.

2. What is a functional resume and why would I use it?

A functional resume emphasizes your talents and experience rather than your employment history in chronological order.

Job searchers who are shifting careers or have gaps in their employment history frequently use it. Find out more about functional resumes and how to write one.

3. What are examples of skills people write on their resume?

Best job skills on a resume?

‣ Computer proficiency.

‣ Leadership experience.

‣ Communication skills.

‣ Organizational know-how.

‣ People skills.

‣ Collaboration talent.

‣ Problem-solving abilities.

4. How can one write the perfect cover letter, step by step?

The career experts share tips on how to write a cover letter that stands out:

‣ Address the letter to a specific person. 

‣ Clearly state the purpose of your letter. 

‣ Don’t rehash your entire resume.

‣ Use action words and don’t overuse the pronoun “I” 

‣ Reiterate your enthusiasm and thank the reader. 

‣ Be consistent in formatting.

5. What are the most desired technical skills on a resume?

Here are some of the top technical skills that employers are looking for in 2021:

‣ Data Management. As more businesses move online, candidates with great data management skills will only become higher in demand. 

‣ Business Analysis. 

‣ Accounting. 

‣ Project Management. 

‣ Engineering. 

‣ Marketing. 

‣ Medicine. 

‣ Coding or Programming.

6. What are some examples of good resume titles?

Resume Headline Examples

‣ Goal-Oriented Senior Accountant with Five Years of Accounting Experience.

‣ Successful Manager of Dozens of Online Marketing Campaigns.

‣ Cook with Extensive Fine Dining Experience.

‣ Award-Winning Editor Skilled in Web Design.

‣ Detail-Oriented History Student with Curatorial Experience.

7. What are some specific skills employers look for on a resume?

What are the best job skills on a resume?

‣ Computer proficiency.

‣ Leadership experience.

‣ Communication skills.

‣ Organizational know-how.

‣ People skills.

‣ Collaboration talent.

‣ Problem-solving abilities.

8. What is the reverse-chronological format for building a resume?

The reverse chronological order is when the timeline starts with the most recent events going back to the oldest.

For resumes, it means listing the latest job position and qualifications you’ve worked or achieved first. And then continuing backward from there.

9. How do you make a resume using Microsoft Word?

How to make a resume in Microsoft Word

‣ Open Microsoft Word and pick a template. 

‣ Write your name and contact information at the top. 

‣ Write a convincing introduction.

‣ Summarize your work experience. 

‣ Add your education history. 

‣ List your relevant job skills. 

‣ Include career accomplishments and awards at the bottom.

10. Should Microsoft Office be included as a skill on your resume?

Many jobs require a basic understanding of the most popular Microsoft Office products, and you should consider including those skills on your resume.

If you have little work experience, listing Microsoft Office skills will help you fill in the gaps on your CV.

Please leave your questions and comment in the comment section below. Feel free to share this article with your friends and loved ones.

CSN Team. 

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