The truth about the functional CV

The traditional definition of a functional CV

When seeking out job search advice you will likely be told about the two categories of CV; reverse chronological and functional. The former is the “traditional” type of CV you are probably used to seeing. It lists your experience in reverse order from the present, going backwards into the past.

In essence The functional CV is based on displaying your experience not in terms of positions held, but rather in skill set groupings, such as “team working”, “project management” or “computer skills. The idea is to make the focus of your CV these skills and abilities rather than your experience. The theory is if you are not sure you have enough experience to impress a potential employer or have a multitude of different experiences that don’t flow into a “neat” career path you may think about the functional CV. After all, the focus is one what you can do, not filling your CV with a long list of job titles.

Who uses a functional CV?

As I described, its all about “disguising” a possible perceived shortage of experience. Hence this style of CV is often recommended for;


Graduates fall under the category of those without a great deal of experience in their chosen career (yet). To learn more about how to write your graduate CV click here. Those looking for a career change

Again there is a need to put the focus firmly on your capabilities, rather than experience you may or may not have to. If you want to learn more about interviewing for a career change-read this. Weighing up the pros and cons

Despite the potential benefits you will also need to consider the disadvantages/challenges this style of CV presents

1)Relevancy is everything

You will need to pinpoint and display exactly those skills that are relevant. Many people simply miss the mark, perhaps through not really getting to grips with what the employer is looking for in the first place. If this happens any potential benefits are lost, as the employer is left looking at a list of skills that don’t apply! Your application will not last long if this is the case.


The functional CV can obscure the details. It is designed to make it more difficult to see broader picture of your career. This of course makes it harder for the reader to sum up your experience, and this violates one of the key principles of how to write a CV. Remember, if it takes them more time, it probably won’t happen.

3)It makes employers uncertain

Employers want to look at your CV and buy into the illusion that they are onto a sure thing. They need to feel as sure as possible. Not showing them your career path is the antithesis of this. The harder you make it for them to see “who you are” the worse things may be, so you will have to work to bridge that gap.

These are some pretty big obstacles. I have to admit that working as a recruiter. Viewing CVs’ from all over the world. a functional CV was a rarity to come across.

What a functional really means

There is a lot of talk, technique, information and advice about getting the job you want. Your challenge is to find what actually works for you. If you want results you need to clear through the clutter and focus on results. You want to know my definition of a functional CV?…………………….

Quite simply a functional CV is the one that fulfils its purpose. That purpose being to get you an interview!!! whether or not your a CV is functional depends on the outcome, anything else is semantics.

There is a reason the traditional CV has become a tradition.- it works! Your CV should enable the person screening a pile of them to quickly ascertain the salient points that will decide whether you are a potential candidate. At the same time, it should also contain the detail that will interest an interviewer. Oh yes, and as well as these attributes, it must be easy to read.

So its time to learn how to write a CV

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