Skills Based CV Template: Writing Guide with Examples

Skills Based CV Template: Writing Guide with Examples

You know you're the the ideal candidate. But you haven’t got a conventional work history to prove it. The answer? A skills based CV. Learn how to write it here.

Just graduated? Still studying? Considering a career change? You’ll often be advised to write a skills based CV to overcome your lack of relevant work experience. But there’s a catch.

 

Few job seekers will actually benefit from using this CV format.

 

A skills based CV (also known as a functional CV) showcases your key skills rather than a neatly laid out work history. Skills based CVs can work well for career-changers, candidates who have limited experience like graduates or students, or candidates in industries with lots of freelancing or project-based experience.

 

They can also work for ex-military personnel transitioning to a life on civvy street. But if you don’t fall into one of those few categories, don’t even try to write a functional CV. Problem is they’ve become synonymous with candidates who are trying to hide gaps in their employment history.

 

And ironically, that’s a type of candidate that this format doesn’t work for. If you’re going to venture into the choppy waters of a skills-based/functional CV then proceed with caution. Just follow this guide to safely navigate the hazards.

 

Want to save time and have your CV ready in 5 minutes? Try our CV builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ CV templates and create your CV here.

 

sample cv templates

Sample CV made with our builder—See more templates and create your CV here.

 

For general tips on CV formatting see our guide: Best CV Format for Job Hunting Success

 

And for a comprehensive guide to writing a CV, read more here: How to Write a Professional CV for the UK

 

Every good CV needs to be divided into sections and arranged in the right order. Here’s how to do it for a functional CV.

 

Skills Based CV Template

 

  • Header with contact information
  • Personal statement
  • Skills summary
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Additional sections (optional)

 

That structure gives you a solid CV layout that lets your skills take centre stage, without neglecting all of the essential information that recruiters demand. Here’s an example of a skills-based CV that follows that structure to the letter.

 

Skills Based CV Text Example

 

Jason Whyte

UI Developer

0777 777 7777

j_whytezety@gmail.com

linkedin.com/j_whytezety

twitter.com/j_whytezety

 

Personal Statement

 

Skilled UI developer with 4+ years of experience in Android apps and front-end web development. Designed applications that increased user satisfaction ratings on Trustpilot by 30% and resolved persistent compatibility issues for users of Samsung devices. Looking to leverage my passion for enabling efficient and enjoyable user experiences to produce first-class UI for Newbold Designs.

 

Skills Summary

 

UI DEVELOPMENT

  • Performed testing and documentation of UI and services, identifying numerous conversion limiting critical bugs.
  • Resolved browser compatibility issues, solving conflicts for Opera users that increased user satisfaction by 10%.
  • Undertook in-depth communication with customers to determine project scope and project timelines, rigorously adhering to deadlines without overspill.

 

GRAPHIC DESIGN 

  • Contributed to design of graphical themes for Android app and website visual content.
  • Created bespoke data visualization for internal use in training and presentations and external use in published content.
  • Designed graphics for a client website that won a 2019 User Experience UK Award.

 

IT SKILLS

  • Developed front-end web pages with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.
  • Created application to assess JSON and XML for RESTful web service using JavaScript and Angular.JS.
  • Leveraged emerging JavaScript technologies such as Node.js and Backbone.js for cutting edge product and feature development.

 

Work Experience

 

London

Freelance UI Developer

October 2015–Present

  • Freelance and project-based UI development for various companies including Creative Navy, DMI & AppTaste

 

Education

 

BSc in Computing and Information Systems, September 2012–June 2015

University of London, London, UK

 

Conferences

 

  • UX London, 2015–2019

 

Now, let’s go through each section and look at skills-based CV examples to show you how they should be written. 

 

How to Write a Skills-Based CV Section by Section

 

1. Start with a Header in Your Skills-Based CV

 

This is the section right at the top of the page where you write your contact information. Here’s what to include.

  • Your full name. For emphasis, use a CV font 4–6 points larger than the other header text.
  • Phone number.
  • Email address. Use a sensible one based on your name.
  • LinkedIn profile as a clickable link.

 

Your home address? That’s optional, but in all honesty it’s just a waste of valuable page space.

 

2. Write a Compelling Personal Statement

 

This is the first bit of content the hiring manager will see. The human eye is hardwired to place more focus at the top of the page. Make a strong first impression so you grab their attention and keep hold of it.

 

Your personal profile should be 3–4 sentences long and targeted to the job you’re applying for. Introduce yourself, offer value to the employer with relevant achievements and skills, and include your career goals. Show some passion for the job and the industry too.

 

Skills Based CV Example—Personal Statement

 

Recent LSE BSc Management graduate with 2:1 honours, seeking to obtain a Graduate Management Trainee role with Omicron Consulting to develop my business management and strategic planning skills in a blue-chip consultancy environment. I aim to leverage my passion for data-driven performance and process improvement to become an expert in corporate management consultancy.

Read more: How to Write a CV Personal Statement [CV Profile Examples]

3. Use the Skills Summary to Include Your Key Skills 

 

Take note. This is the most crucial section of a skills-based CV. Its beating heart. Here’s how to get it right. 

 

How to Write a Functional CV Skills Summary

  • Write a master list of all the skills you have. Include soft skills, hard skills and technical skills.
  • Read the job advert and make a list of what skills are needed for the role. 
  • Compare the two lists and see what matches up.
  • Select 3–4 of the skills that match and include them in this section as sub-headings, e.g. “Data Analysis.”
  • Under each sub-heading write 2–4 bullet points that demonstrate your mastery of this skill. 
  • Start each bullet point off with an action word and structure them as accomplishment statements where possible.

 

Now let’s have a look at some examples. First up, a skills summary written by a UI developer whose career has mostly been freelance and project-based work.

 

Functional CV Skills Summary Sample—Freelancer

 

UI DEVELOPMENT

  • Performed testing and documentation of UI and services, identifying numerous conversion limiting critical bugs.
  • Resolved browser compatibility issues, solving conflicts for Opera users that increased user satisfaction by 10%.
  • Undertook in-depth communication with customers to determine project scope and project timelines, rigorously adhering to deadlines without overspill.

 

 

GRAPHIC DESIGN 

  • Contributed to design of graphical themes for android app and website visual content.
  • Created bespoke data visualization for internal use in training and presentations and external use in published content.
  • Designed graphics for a client website that won a 2019 User Experience UK Award.

 

 

IT SKILLS

  • Developed front-end web pages with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.
  • Created application to assess JSON and XML for RESTful web service using JavaScript and Angular.JS.
  • Leveraged emerging JavaScript technologies such as Node.js and Backbone.js for cutting edge product and feature development.

 

Every skill is backed up with impressive accomplishments. This candidate may not have a conventional work history, but this skills summary provides ample proof that’ll they’ll be a great fit for the job.

 

Now for a skills summary written for a graduate CV.

 

Functional CV Skills Summary Sample—Graduate

 

COMMUNICATION

  • Developed skills in interpersonal communication with colleagues and customers working as a sales assistant and undertaking a summer internship with Jenkins & Cohen.
  • Gained leadership and mentoring skills through volunteer rugby refereeing, officiating at amateur level matches for U18 teams.
  • Improved written communication skills as a guest contributor to “Rucking Brilliant” rugby blog and producing essays, reports, and seminar papers to strict guidelines for my academic studies.

 

 

ORGANISATION

  • Balanced a challenging mix of university studies, part-time work, extra-curricular activities and volunteer work.
  • Assisted in arranging events as a member of the LSE SU Economics society including arranging guest speakers for society meetings and helping to arrange annual ball.

 

 

IT & TECH SKILLS 

  • Competent in C++ having undertaken training on Udemy.
  • Advanced Excel and Google Sheets user, making use of both applications to present results of research projects.
  • Ran A/B testing for academic research projects, analysing results through Google Analytics.

 

This candidate has to write their skills summary a little differently. They’ve not got many impressive professional accomplishments to draw upon, but they’ve still provided solid examples that back up each skill. 

Need some skills inspiration? Read more here: Key CV Skills [Best Top Skills & Examples]

When making a CV in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building your CV here.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

4. List Your Work History

 

You’re writing a CV based on your skills, so there’s no need to go into detail here. However, you do need to include the basics. 

 

Here’s how to do it:

  • List your employers, starting with the most recent position and work back from there.
  • For each role include your job title, the company name and the dates you worked there.

 

Optionally, you could add 2–3 bullet points that list key responsibilities and accomplishments. 

 

Try out your functional CV in different templates: 20+ Free CV Templates to Download Now

 

 

5. Include Your Education in Your Skills Based CV

 

If you’re an experienced candidate, such as a career changer or freelancer, then you only need include some brief details in your functional CV.

 

List:

  • Your degree.
  • The name of your university.
  • The dates you studied there.

 

If you’re still studying, or you’ve graduated within the past year and have limited work experience, you’ll need a bit more detail. So—

 

You need to:

  • Put your education section above your work experience section.
  • Include any impressive academic achievements.
  • List any courses relevant to the job/career you’re targeting.
  • If you graduated with honours then include this too. But only if it’s a first or a 2:1.

 

6. Level Up Your Functional CV with Additional Sections

 

I’ve already mentioned that this CV format has its problems. To be honest, many recruiters hate it. So it’s a good idea to keep them on side by including as much job-winning content as possible. Additional sections are a great way to impress hiring managers.

 

Examples of additional CV sections for a skills-based CV:

  • Languages
  • Volunteer work
  • Professional certifications and licenses
  • Projects
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Conference participation
  • Publications
  • Additional training
  • Extracurricular activities

 

7. Write a Cover Letter to Complement Your Skills Based CV

 

Cover letters? Who has time for that?

 

You do! Around half of employers still say they'll reject applications without cover letters.

 

This is how to write a cover letter to accompany your skills-based CV.

  • Write a compelling introduction. Show passion for the job and the employer and include an impressive achievement to catch their attention.
  • Prove your experience and skills will enable you to excel in the role.
  • End your cover letter with a call to action asking to meet to discuss the role further.
  • Target your cover letter to the job you’re applying for.
  • Choose the right cover letter length. It should be around 200-400 words long and no longer than one page.

 

And that’s it, now you know how to play an absolute blinder of a skills-based CV. Once more though, you do need to think carefully before using this format. Here’s a handy cheat sheet to help you decide.

Want some more CV tips? Read more: 20+ Job Winning CV Tips & Advice

Should You Use a Functional CV—Pros and Cons

 

If you’re in doubt, we’ve made a table to help you decide.

 

Skills Based CV Summary

 

Skills Based CV Pros

Skills Based CV Cons

Helps candidates without a conventional work history by focusing on skills. 

Recruiters dislike the format because they’re not used it and it’s harder for them to skim and pick out the info they need.

A good choice for freelancers and people in creative industries who’ve pursued a portfolio career.

Difficult to write well. You need to put a lot of thought into your skills summary to make it convincing and relevant.

Works well for career changers.

Not ATS-scannable.

 

Key Takeaway

 

Here’s what you need to remember to write an effective skills-based CV:

  • The candidates who benefit from this format are career changers, students/graduates with limited experience, freelancers without a conventional work history and military transitioners. Don’t use it to hide career gaps.
  • Write your skills summary with care. List your skills that are most relevant to the job and back them up with evidence and accomplishments.
  • Give a brief overview of your work experience and education.
  • Finish off with some additional sections to impress the hiring manager.

 

Got more questions about writing a skills-based CV? Not sure if a functional CV will work for you? Ask away in the comments. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

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Jacques Buffett
Jacques is a career expert committed to delivering top-notch job hunting advice. His guides will empower you to craft winning resumes and cover letters.

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