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Changing careers? No traditional, linear work history? Long spells of past unemployment? Or perhaps you don’t have much work experience at all? You might feel tempted to write a skills based CV, instead of a traditional, reverse-chronological one.
Not so fast.
Skills based CVs, though advantageous to some, are suitable for very few groups of jobseekers.
A skills based CV (also known as a functional CV or simply a “skills CV”) highlights your skills and qualifications rather than work experience. Skills based CVs are a good choice for career-changers, candidates applying to highly specialized positions, or candidates in creative industries with lots of freelancing experience.
Contrary to popular belief, functional CVs are not ideal for people with major employment gaps. Why?
Mostly because, for years, they have been recommended as a perfect means to camouflage imperfect work histories. The effect? The skills-based CV format has become an instant flashy neon screaming “I’m trying to hide something!”
If you’re entertaining a thought of writing a functional/skills-based CV, you need to be very careful to avoid some typical rookie mistakes. Luckily, you’ve come across this guide.
Read on and you’ll see:
- A sample skills based CV better than 9 out of 10 others.
- Skills based CV template you can tweak, adjust to your needs, and use to land that big interview.
- How to write a functional CV step by step.
- When a skills based curriculum vitae is a good idea and when best to avoid it.
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Sample skills-based CV made with our builder—See more templates and create your CV here.
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The first thing you have to do when writing a skills based CV is divide it into proper sections in the correct order. Here’s how:
Skills Based CV Template
- Contact Information
- Personal Statement/CV Profile
- Skills Summary
- Work Experience
- Additional Skills
- (Optional) Additional Sections
This way, a CV in a skills based format emphasizes your abilities and qualifications, taking some pressure off of the work history. That, however, doesn’t mean you can just list all the skills you think you have in whatever order you deem right. You still have to validate your skills—ideally, by providing real examples of how you put them to use in the workplace.
Read on to see skills based CV examples that illustrate how to do it. Plus, step-by-step guidelines to help you create your CV in no time.
How to Write a Skills Based CV Step by Step
1. List your contact information at the top
- Your full name
- Phone number
- Email address
- LinkedIn profile
- (Optional) Home address
2. Include a brief personal statement or a CV profile
This section works like a trailer for the rest of your CV. It’s the first thing the hiring manager will see.
Make the CV profile short (up to 80 words) and relevant. Give an outline of who you are, what skills you’ve mastered and, most importantly, what you have to offer. If you’re working in a creative industry, include links to your professional websites or portfolio.
Functional/Skills Based CV Example: Personal Profile/Statement
I am a results-driven King's College graduate in Journalism and Social Communication seeking to leverage two years of internship and freelancing PR experience to help XYZ Corp generate more meaningful leads in the upcoming months. Experienced in producing engaging online content (see my portfolio here) and press releases for tech start-ups and local IT companies. Non-profit blogger at www.pr-matters.wordpress.co.uk. I am mainly interested in digital PR solutions including the automatisation of customer relations via AI-based email campaigns and chatbots.
When making a CV in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional CV template here for free.
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Learn more here: CV Personal Statement/Personal Profile Examples & a Writing Guide
3. Showcase your most relevant skills in the skills summary
This is the most crucial part of a functional CV. Meat and potatoes, if you will. Here’s how to turn it into chateaubriand with dauphinoise.
How to Write a Functional CV Skills Summary
- Read the job ad carefully and identify key skills expected by the employer.
- Pick 3 to 6 skills and list them in your summary.
- Under each skill, include a short paragraph or 3–5 bullet points that demonstrate your expertise.
- If you can, try to pick quantified, measurable results achievements to back up each skill. Be as specific as possible.
Have a look at these CV summary examples:
Functional CV Skills Summary Sample: Specialized Positions
Programming and App Development
- Developed and built 20+ mobile apps and 30+ websites providing exceptional user experience.
- Named BCD M&E’s “Top Programmer of The Year” for three consecutive years 2009-2011.
- 15+ years experience in C#, C++, Java, and Objective-C.
- C Certified Professional Programmer (2006), Objective-C Certified Professional Programmer (2009).
- 8+ years experience in project coordination (teams of 3–10 colleagues).
- Designed and implemented a new IT management model with Apple London, increasing quarterly productivity by 33% and boosting employee satisfaction by 22%.
- Trained and mentored 50+ junior developers to help them prepare for certification exams (88% success rate).
- Coordinated 20+ projects with budgets over £200,000.
- Optimized procurement processes to reduce BCD M&E’s annual costs by 27%.
- Successfully cooperated with sales and marketing teams on new business strategies which helped increase Apple London sales volume by 23%.
Notice how each of these core skills is supported by substantial evidence.
Functional CV Skills Summary Sample: Creative Industries
Experienced in working with clients in a wide variety of fields (Tech, FMCG, Sports, Interior Design). Excellent at researching clients' brands, industries and markets quickly and comprehensively.
Skilled at writing all types of marketing and PR materials: press releases, blog posts, bulletins, emailing campaigns (outreach emails, sales emails, engagement emails). Able to produce up to 1,500 words of unique, well-researched, engaging content per day.
I’m able to come up with innovative solutions to all types of problems and crises. Excellent in designing and implementing both ATL and BTL Public Relations and Marketing campaigns in collaboration with teams of graphic designers and art directors.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Proficient at managing social media campaigns across all major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr. Increased clients’ social media referral traffic by 180%. Boosted Acme’s online sales by a quarter.
This candidate doesn’t have as many quantifiable achievements as the previous one, but he still manages to provide very precise examples of his expertise. It makes this CV skills section much more believable to employers.
Curious about the most relevant skills for employment in today's trends? Find out here: Crucial Skill Sets to Land Better Jobs.
4. List your work experience
Even though in a “skills” CV, you don’t need to be particularly elaborate about your work history, you still have to include a list of your past employers.
- You position
- Company name
- Dates worked
Optionally, you can add 2–3 bullet points that outline your key responsibilities and accomplishments.
5. Include basic details about your education
The same goes for your education. Don’t drone on about relevant coursework, thesis title, or extracurricular activities.
Limit yourself to:
- Your degree
- The name of the institution
- Graduation date
The only exception is if you’ve graduated within a year and have little work experience. In such case, put your education section above the work experience on your skills based CV, include academic achievements, list a few relevant courses. If you’ve graduated with a first or a 2:1, include your honours too. Otherwise—omit them.
6. Add a list of additional skills
All key skills on a skills based CV should appear in the Skills Summary. At the bottom of your functional CV, add a short, bulleted list of extra skills such as:
7. Optionally, add extra sections to buff up your CV
These might include:
- Hobbies and Interests
- Volunteer Experience
- Freelance Work
- Conference Participation
- Additional Training
- Publications and Blogs
Also, while not a section of your CV as such, do write a cover letter. As many as half of recruiters still expect those!
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your CV will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
And presto! There you have it—a comprehensive template of all sections you need to include on your skills based CV. Time for a quick recap.
Pros & Cons of a Functional CV—Should You Use It or Avoid It?
Still not sure whether writing a skills based CV is a good idea? Consult with our handy table!
Skills Based CV in a Nutshell
Skills Based CV Pros
Skills Based CV Cons
It takes the focus off of your work history and emphasizes your skills. If you’ve done lots of freelancing or single projects, this format will help you show what skills you’ve mastered through them.
It’s not as easy to scan for recruiters as a traditional CV written using a reverse-chronological template.
When written properly, it showcases your most important skills and validates them with examples related to your work experience
Suggests you’re trying to hide something about your employment history.
It can be used by career-changers and candidates targeting highly specialized positions.
It might not get through older Applicant Tracking Systems’ (ATS) scans.
It’s a good creative CV format for non-traditional industries.
Very difficult to write—you’ll need to go the extra mile to make sure your skills summary is both believable and relevant to the opening.
To write a functional/skills based CV that gets you the job, follow these 6 key steps:
- Open with a personal statement or a CV profile: outline who you are and how you’ll benefit the employer.
- In the central part of your CV, put a skills summary: list your most relevant skills and back them up with evidence of your proficiency.
- Include a succinct overview of your work history: positions, companies, dates worked.
- Be brief about your education: list your degree, institution, graduation date.
- At the bottom, put a bulleted list of your additional skills.
- Finish off with extra sections: certifications, awards, publications, or conferences.
Do you have any questions about our skills based CV examples? Facing obstacles writing your functional CV? Let me know in the comments, I’ll do my best to help!