Resume Writing Tips: Skills Resumes
The skills resume format is an alternative to the more common chronological resume. Contrary to the chronological resume, the skills resume format is useful for people who have a spotty work history or no work history, are entering a new field, or who otherwise have relevant skills but would not benefit from listing their work history chronologically. (Click here for information on chronological resumes.)
Rather than focusing on work history, the skills resume (also called the functional resume) focuses on the specific skills you have accumulated, usually grouped by type. A brief work history and education information can be included if desired, but are not necessary on a purely functional resume.
The skill resume has its strengths and weaknesses; on the good side, it allows you to list your most relevant and strongest skills first. It also allows you to hide the companies you worked for, as well as your job titles and employment dates, and it's unusual enough that you can leave off other parts, like education, without looking incompetent.
On the bad side, employers tend to be more on-guard while handling skills resumes, because they know information is intentionally left off. Some job boards will not even list resumes in this format. Thus, this format is definitely a minus point from the employer's point of view -- however, listing strong, relevant skills can more than make up for it, if it's done effectively. Here's a quick outline of how a skills resume reads:
- Name, contact info
- Summary statement
- Work history (optional)
- Education (optional)
And now, a look at each section in more detail:
Name, contact info
Like on a chronological resume, your name should be slightly bigger and bolder than the rest of the text, and can be centered or left aligned. Those entering creative fields may opt to use a more decorative font for their name, but it's usually a good idea to keep it relatively conservative. Your contact information goes below your name. All together, it's listed as:
- Phone number (home and cell)
Example: KAREN WORTH
1752 N. La Brea Ave, Apt 112
Los Angeles, CA 90046
It's a modern trend to use periods in your phone number instead of dashes, and you should use a standard, name-based email address rather than a handle-based one (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org).
A summary statement is a brief (3-4 sentences) description of what you do and what your accomplishments are. It is the first thing an employer reads on a resume, and sometimes the only thing that is read. It should but your strongest points forward while giving the employer a good idea of what the rest of your resume says. A basic summary statement includes:
- Your last (or current) job title
- Your primary skills and abilities
- One or two accomplishments that highlight your strengths
Keywords are an important part of the summary statement, because not only do employers scan resumes for keywords, they often enter resumes into a database where they search by keyword. To keyword-optimize your resume, use words that describe your strengths and that you believe an employer would look for. It's also helpful to use more than one version of a word (i.e., manager, management).
Example: Outgoing, results-oriented sales representative with over five years' experience in pharmaceutical and medical equipment sales. Additional experience in product consulting and marketing, with a strong background in retail management. Tripled quarterly sales over a three-month period while improving company recordkeeping, and increased repeat client base by 54%.
Some people prefer to use an objective statement instead of (or in addition to) a summary statement. An objective statement (a brief statement of what you do and what position you're seeking) is only a good idea if you're holding out for the exact position you want. Otherwise they can be limiting to your job search, as employers are more likely to eliminate a resume from the job pool if your objective statement doesn't exactly line up with the company's openings.
The skills section of your resume is flexible, because you may list the skills you possess in whatever order suits your employment goals. Most people group their skills in clusters, where a few different skills fall under a category such as "Sales," "Entrepreneurial," or "Volunteer." It typically takes the form of a table or double-column list, with or without lines and borders.
The skills can be described as functions you performed or as tasks you accomplished. You can include as much or as little information as you deem relevant, but as in the summary statement, keep keywords in mind.
|Retail||- Managed a retail clothing store, directing seven employees and managing hours, payroll and vacation schedules|
|- Opened a retail surf shop, directing advertising and purchasing and establishing a strong local customer base|
|Telecommunications||- Routed caller traffic for an informational phone directory, handling high-volume listings under hectic conditions|
|- Handled customer questions and complaints for an electronics manufacturer, connecting callers with the appropriate service personnel and mitigating complaints and concerns|
|- Provided internal technical support for an electronics manufacturer, analyzing clients' system issues and solving problems remotely, or transferring to a long-term support center|
|Outside sales||- Contacted and recruited new clients for an electronics manufacturer's business-to-business department, increasing client base by 25% over two months|
|- Recruited new leads for a career school's outreach department, generating $158,000 in new revenue over three months|
Work history is optional on skills resumes, as the main point of using this format is to promote your strengths without revealing weak aspects of your past employment. If you choose to include a work history, you can organize it however you wish and include whatever information is relevant. The example below includes employment dates, company names and job titles, though any combination of those is acceptable.
Example: 2005-2008 Madison Locksmith, Inc. General manager
2003-2005 Ace Hardware
Shift manager, cashier
1998-2003 Paintmasters Interiors
Including your education is also optional for skills resumes, though it may be beneficial to include degree information, since many employers require a degree. Again, whatever information you choose to include is acceptable.
Example: BA - electrical engineering
Rice University, 1995