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What is a skills-based resume and should you use one?

preparing a skills based resume

You’ve spent hours mulling over your resume, but the final copy still looks meh. Why so? Perhaps, you’ve been just using a suboptimal resume format. The common wisdom tells you that a good resume should be organized chronologically around your work experience. But in some cases going against the grain and submitting a skills-based resume can do a far better job for you! 

What is a Skills-Based Resume? 

A skills-based resume (also called functional resume format) is a type of resume, built around your main skills and core competencies, rather than employment history. On your resume, the work history is still present.  But the main focus is on your skills, which occupy most of the page.

Think of a skills-based resume as a longer version of your resume summary, detailing who you are and what knowledge you have under your belt. 

A skills-based resume works best for:

And anyone else who accumulated a portfolio of skills and experiences from different facets of life, rather than traditional employment! 

Skills-Based Resume vs. Chronological: The Difference

The main difference between a skills-based resume and a chronological resume is formatting. In the latter, you list all your work experiences in reverse chronological order and add your duties, accomplishments, and learned skills alongside each entry. Functional resume follows a less rigid structure and first emphasizes the skills in a prominently featured section. The remaining one-third of a page or so is reserved for a shorter work entry section. 

Skills-Based Resume Example

Below is a quick skills-based resume example for a recent graduate with a Liberal Arts degree. During their college years, they held an array of jobs and learned some extra skills outside of the Alma Mater.  

Jina Torez
Content Marketing Manager 
[Your website URL]

Summary of Qualifications 

Trained journalist with a BA Degree in English Literature from Colton University, experienced in writing pop-culture op-ends, reported news pieces, and educational content for ecommerce brands. Has strong knowledge in web design, SEO best practices, copywriting, and data visualizations. Produced blog content for brands that attracted over 30,000 monthly visitors from search results. Created an email marketing campaign with a 3% click-through rate for an online store. 

Skills Summary 

Digital marketing skills:

  • Technical SEO: on-page optimization, website audits, Screaming Frog software 
  • Email marketing: conversion copywriting, A/B testing, drip campaigns, onboarding emails 
  • Content marketing: keyword research, editorial strategy, content promotion.  
  • MarTech software: Google Analytics, Ahrehs, SemRush. 

Copywriting skills: 

  • Landing page creation and prototyping 
  • Blog content creation and optimization 
  • Thought-leadership and reported pieces
  • Bylines include Refinery29, Vogue Business, the Drum. 

Web design skills:

  • Wireframing and prototyping
  • Working knowledge of HTML/CSS
  • Social media content creation 
  • UX/UI design basics 
  • Design software: InVision, Figma, Adobe Photoshop 

Soft skills:

  • Emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Strong oral and written communication skills 
  • Asynchronous communication
  • High digital literacy 

Work Experience 

Freelance Content Marketer
June 2018 present 

Worked with a range of ecommerce brands, online stores, and digital marketing agencies on email marketing campaigns, content writing, and landing page design. 

Editorial Intern 
LA Times
June-2019 — September 2019

Interned in the Lifestyle division on LA times newspaper. Was trained in the best practices of fact-checking, copyediting, working with sources, and writing reported pieces. References available on request. 

Design Intern
Shopify 
June-2020 — October-2020

During the internship, I learned the basics of ecommerce operations and ecommerce website development. Was trained in UX best practices and honed graphic design skills. 

Education 

BA in English Literature 
Colton University, 2018-2021 

Certifications 

  • Certified conversion copywriter by Copyhackers (2020)
  • HubSpot Google Analytics Certification (2021) 

How to Write a Skills-Based Resume: 3 Key Tips 

Want to create a similar document? Great, grab a skills-based resume template so that you don’t start with a blank page. Then follow these actionable tips. 

Start with a Resume Skills Inventory 

As the example above shows, the “Skills” section should be the focal point of your resume. It should immediately capture the employer’s attention and showcase what you are bringing to the table. 

As a rule of thumb, try to organize it in the following fashion:

  1. List your most marketable skills, relevant to the position you are applying for
  2. Add a secondary skills group, complementary to your core competencies 
  3. Create another hard skills subsection or highlight some of your soft skills 
  4. Emphasize another group of soft skills if these matter for the job. 

When you are deciding which skills to include in your resume, take another lingering look at the job offer. Be sure to mention all the matching attributes listed in the Requirements section. Then add some unique extras you have! 

Keep the Work Experience Section Succicint 

Don’t sweat over spelling out the details. Instead, just present the basics: 

  • Job title
  • Employer name
  • Employment dates
  • Quick description

If you have room for describing your duties and projects, add a few sentences. If you are short on space, just list one major achievement or some extra skills you haven’t mentioned in the main section. 

Use the Remaining Space To Market Yourself Some More 

Reserve the bottom part of the page for Education, Certifications, Accolades, Languages, and other marketable skills you have. 

Use this section as a last-ditch attempt to impress the employer with your passion for learning and explain how you’ve obtained some of the skills, listed in the main section. 

To Conclude

Due to the rise of the gig economy and alternative education, more and more recruiters are becoming susceptible to the skills-based resume format. If you feel that the traditional chronological resume format is too rigid for you, by all means, choose this option! High chances are that a skills-based resume will help you land that coveted job interview with some hip company!

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