What is a Functional CV? Examples and Key Tips

What is a Functional CV? Examples and Key Tips

A functional CV can be ideal if you don’t have much work experience, and want to emphasise your skills. The functional CV format is the main alternative to the traditional CV structure, which places your work experience at the heart of the document. In this article, we explain how to write a functional CV, and explain how to use it to show you have the skills for the job, even if you’re lacking experience.

Why Use a Functional CV?

The functional CV is a great option if you think you’re qualified for a role, but you don’t feel you can prove your worth through your work experience. Traditional CV formats place a greater emphasis on employment history, and use this as a vehicle for showcasing your skills and achievements. However, if you don’t have much relevant experience, a functional CV format can be more effective.

The functional CV is perfect if you’re just starting out in your career and want to highlight skills and achievements gained in other areas besides work. It places your skills and education above your work history in the document. As such, recent graduates and people leaving full-time education often favour the functional CV format.

Functional CVs can also be useful if you’re changing careers and your work history lacks relevance to the roles you’re applying for. If you have useful transferable or practical skills that you want to draw attention to, a functional CV is the ideal choice.

“The functional CV is a great option if you think you’re qualified for a role, but you don’t feel you can prove your worth through your work experience.”

What Does a Functional CV Include?

A functional CV is also known as a ‘skills-based CV’, because it places more emphasis on skills than work experience. However, the CV still includes most of the same sections and content as a traditional, chronological CV. It just places them in a different order. A functional CV may also have longer, more detailed skills and education sections, while the work experience section may be more brief.

These are the essential sections to include in a functional CV:

  • CV header
  • CV objective or summary
  • Skills
  • Education
  • Work experience

The skills-based CV format can also include some optional sections, such as:

  • Certifications
  • Training
  • Languages
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Internships
  • Volunteer work

How to Write a Functional CV: Step-by-Step Guide

Take a look at the guide below for tips on writing every section of a functional CV:

CV header

Add your first and last name, your location, your email address and your phone number. You can also include links to portfolios, LinkedIn profiles or personal websites. You might want to mention professional titles, languages or licences in this section. Avoid adding any unnecessary personal information such as your age, nationality, or a personal photo.

CV objective or summary

Write two or three sentences showcasing some of the skills you want to emphasise to the reader. If you’re just starting out in your career, you can use this section to mention your career objectives, and how the role you’re applying for fits with your ambitions.


In a functional CV, the skills section has greater importance and emphasis than the work experience section. As such, it’s usually positioned as the first section below the CV summary.

Consult the job description and pick out any key skills that the employer lists as essential or desirable. These are the skills to focus on in your skills section. You could create a single list, or you could break your skills down into hard and soft skills.

While a traditional CV might include a brief list of key skills, you may want to provide a little more detail in this CV structure. This might include an explanation of where and when you learned your skills, how you’ve used them and your skill level. Make sure every skill you mention matches something listed in the job description. 


The education section is another section that grows in importance in the functional CV format. If you’re applying for a technical role or a traditional profession that requires a certain type of qualification, you may wish to place your education section above your skills, to give it more prominence in the document.

List the name and level of your highest qualification (i.e. BSc Engineering), the institution you studied at, its location and your dates of study or graduation. If you have space in the document, you may wish to highlight other relevant qualifications or educational achievements, such as A-level grades. You can also add a bullet point or two outlining any specialist content you covered in your course, awards you won or societies you were a member of during your studies.

Work experience

While your work experience section is less prominent in a functional CV, it’s still important. Add any previous roles, and include bullet points to explain your responsibilities. Reference any skills or achievements in the role that are relevant to the job description.

For each entry, list your job title, the name of the organisation, its location and the dates you worked there. Present your experience in reverse-chronological order, starting with your most recent role. This section doesn’t need to be as long or detailed as in a traditional CV structure, but most employers will still be keen to see your work history.

Optional sections

If you have space in your CV, you can choose from several optional sections to show you’ve got the skills and experience necessary for the job. These include certifications or training you’ve undertaken, hobbies and interests, language skills, internships and volunteer work. These sections can be useful if you’re starting your career and you’re looking for other ways to prove you’re a suitable candidate.

Expert tip:

To give your skills top billing in your functional CV, add some detail about how and where you’ve used each skill, and the impact it’s made in previous roles or activities. Whether you’ve used a skill in work, a volunteer role or a hobby, explaining your level of competence and practical use of each skill can help employers understand your suitability for a role.

How to Tailor a Functional CV for Different Jobs

One of the most effective ways to make your CV more impactful, is to tailor it for different job applications. This might mean having a traditional CV for some job applications, and a functional CV for others, depending on your experience and suitability for the role. Tailoring your CV can also help you to emphasise specific skills and experience relevant to the job you’re applying for.

When you’re preparing your CV, consult the job description to understand the key skills for the role. Make your CV a showcase for these particular skills, and explain how you’ve used them, either in the workplace or in other roles and activities, such as volunteer work, internships or hobbies.

Dos and Don’ts for an Effective Functional CV

Follow these tips to help ensure you make the best possible impression with your functional CV:


Tailor your CV: take the time to tailor your CV and ensure it meets the job description. This might mean focusing on specific key skills over others and showing how and where you’ve used relevant skills, either in your work or in other contexts.

Keep it concise: it can be tempting to provide detailed information to prove you’re the ideal candidate, but try to keep your CV to a maximum of two pages. Your skills and education sections are the most important in the functional CV, so these can take up the majority of the document.

Use a professional-looking design: using an online CV builder can help your document to stand out from the crowd. CVwizard’s CV templates offer subtle design elements and clear, clean structures to enhance your CV’s content and make a positive impression with employers.


List your skills without context: in a traditional CV format, it can suffice to add a simple list of your skills. In a functional CV, you’ll need to add more context and detail. Your skills are the central element of your CV, so make sure each one includes details of how and where you’ve put the skill to use, as well as your competence levels.

Lie or exaggerate: don’t lie or exaggerate your skills on your CV. This will only cause you problems further down the line, either when an interviewer asks you about it, or when you need to rely on those skills in the job itself.

Focus on irrelevant work experience: it’s important to list your work experience, even if your CV focuses more on your skills. However, don’t waste too much valuable space detailing every aspect of jobs that don’t add much to your chances of success.

Key Takeaways for a Successful Functional CV

A successful functional CV showcases your skills in a way that proves you can do the job you’re applying for. For junior roles, or when you’re lacking relevant work experience, this type of CV can be highly effective. To make the best impression, focus on skills relevant to the role, and explain how and where you’ve used them, and the impact they had.

CVwizard can help you craft a winning CV with a clean design that really catches the eye. Sign up today to access a wealth of beautiful CV templates, and read our extensive library of CV articles for tips on creating a CV to impress employers.

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