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How to Write a Skills-based Resume

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Written by Amanda Nunez

First impressions are everything, and when you’re applying for a job, a resume acts as your introduction to any potential employer. A good resume puts your best foot forward first, so if you’re applying to a job that’s in a field you don’t have much experience in or if you want to put the spotlight on the tasks you can perform successfully instead of the jobs you’ve held, a resume based on your skills may be your best option.

What is a Skill-based Resume?

A skills-based resume—sometimes called a functional resume—takes the skills section from the traditional resume structure and puts it ahead of other information about you, like work history. Sure, it differs from the way most applicants structure their resumes, but crafting and submitting a skill-based resume can give you an advantage over traditional resumes. 

Skill-based resumes aren’t as common as that traditional format—also referred to as a chronological resume—but they’re still seen often enough that hiring managers will be used to receiving them from interested applicants. In an increasingly complicated world, skill-based hiring may be considered better than hiring based on a chronological resume. 

Technology is evolving at a record pace and the economy can make job security volatile in some circumstances. Recruiters with these situations in mind would put the emphasis on a person’s skill set, not their time spent at each position they’ve held.

Why Should You Use a Skill-based Resume?

A skill-based resume is a good way to put forward your qualifications for the position while placing less importance on your employment history. Will a hiring manager still look for your job experience when deciding whether to consider you as a viable candidate? Yes, however a skill-based resume helps emphasize the things that do make you the right person for the job. 

For instance, did you recently experience a large gap in employment due to extenuating circumstances, like world events or family responsibilities? If so, a skill-based resume will help you better highlight skills that make you a capable candidate rather than your gap in employment.

This type of resume may also be the right decision for people who are changing careers and have yet to hold a position in the field for which they’re applying. There are many skills that are transferable and desirable across multiple industries, and highlighting those skills can help keep you in the hunt right alongside applicants who may have more experience without a robust toolkit of skills. 

If you’re just starting your first career, skill-based resumes could help you out, too. If you’re going to successfully complete an internship in a field, you’ll often be required to shadow then perform the same skills that a full-time professional would know and utilize on an everyday basis. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a resume that celebrates your proficiency in the skill set of a certain field may be required if you’ve stayed in the same role for a number of years. Sure, the work experience section of that resume will be relatively short, but the skills put on display will more than tell the story of your existing qualifications. 

The same goes for people who may have held a lot of similar positions throughout their careers—to list every one of them in a job experience section may become troublesome and repetitive, but to highlight the skills you’ve reinforced across multiple working environments can prove your ability to perform in a position despite any previous short-term employment.

Lastly, these resumes can be the difference between falling into a hiring manager’s yes or no piles if they include the correct skill set for the situation. This is particularly relevant in the tech industry, where skills are so nuanced. Everything from knowledge of the right coding language to certificates in concepts and processes can beat out experience that doesn’t accompany a correct set of skills.

5 Steps to Write a Skill-based Resume

If you know what to put on a resume made in the typical chronological style, you know the 7 elements of skill-based resume construction—what’ll differ is the level of importance afforded to certain elements of the resume.

List Your Contact Information

It’s a classic way to begin: list your full name, the phone number you can pick up in a timely manner, a professional email address, and your city, state, and zip code so a potential employer knows where in the world you’re applying from. Feel free to add other relevant information, like professional social media pages or links to your portfolio.

Time for the Skills

The showcase of a skill-based resume is the relevant skills section, which should look a lot like the relevant experience section found on a chronological resume. Each skill should be listed with approximately three bullet points under it that cite specific examples where that skill led to some sort of positive or profound result. Focus on skills that were mentioned in the job description to show employers that you know the expectations and can meet them.

Think of it how you’d think of listing bullet points under a job in your relevant experience section. Look through the mundane aspects of executing or completing tasks with this skill and find the interesting, engaging parts of what you can do—without embellishing or lying.

Work Experience Still has a Place Here

Just as the relevant skills section takes on the bullet point format most resumes utilize when listing work experience, a skill-based resume reworks the format of the work history section.

To list your work experience in a skill-based resume, list an employer’s name and location—just city and state are fine—then your job title. Follow that by adding your employment period. Don’t include any bullets under each entry, as details are only important in the relevant skills section of a skill-based resume. 

It’s even optional to include employment dates on this type of resume, but be uniform throughout. If you give dates for one job, give dates for all of them. It’s okay to include nontraditional experience here, too, such as internships, work studies and volunteer experience. 


The education section on a skill-based resume will look fairly similar on traditional resumes. List the degree type and your chosen major, the school’s name and its location, and the date the degree was received.

Other Accomplishments

Were your skills recognized with an award or have they earned you access to a professional organization? Are there other activities, such as clubs or leadership roles, where you can either demonstrate application of your skill set or possession of desirable qualities mentioned in the job listing? The last section of a skill-based resume can be used to address a number of topics you may feel aren’t touched on elsewhere in the document, or it can be used to further emphasize your qualifications.

Land a Job with Your Skill-based Resume

Before crafting a resume based on your current skills, browse TheJobNetwork’s job board to get an idea of which skills can help you stand out in your chosen line of work. Then, go back and apply! 

Landing the right job isn’t easy, but utilizing TheJobNetwork’s job searching resources can help you figure out what you’re looking for in an employer—and help you speak to what an employer’s looking for, too!

About the author

Amanda Nunez