How (and Why) to Write a Skills-Based Resume

If you are searching for a new job, you know how essential a strong resume is. It’s your first and sometimes only chance to stand out from the crowd. But what if your resume looks a little light because you are just starting or don’t have the traditional work experience for the job you want? How do you make a solid impression?

Use a skills-based resume instead of a traditional chronological resume. A skills-based resume highlights your personal competencies and abilities instead of your job experience. You may have learned these skills in school, at a job in another industry, or as a hobby. Your mastery of these skills is more important than where you learned them. 

However, skills-based resumes are not appropriate for all jobs. For example, if you are applying for a job that requires a lot of work experience or education, like a physical therapist or an RN, consider using a chronological or traditional resume instead. But if you are considering a career change or have gaps in your career timeline, a skills-based resume may be a more effective option. This blog will discuss the benefits of using a skills-based resume and how to write one. 

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

What is a Skills-Based Resume? 

A skill-based resume is also called a functional resume. This resume style focuses on the specific skills you’ve mastered that are most transferable to the job you want. You can use these transferable skills in various roles or occupations and can be just as or even more important to certain recruiters than actual job experience.

You still include your employment and education at the bottom of the resume. By shifting attention from your previous positions and titles to skills learned from all facets of your life, you offer a more comprehensive view of your abilities.

A skills-based resume typically includes these sections:

  • Overall Job Objectives
  • Skills Summary and List: This section lists your most relevant skills and abilities and any quantifiable metrics you can report.
  • Experience: This section lists your work experience, tying each job to the skills listed above. 
  • Education: This section lists your educational background.
  • Additional Skills: This section lists general skills like technology, languages, etc. 
  • Additional Sections: These sections could be volunteer positions, awards, etc.

We’ll dive deeper into these sections later in the blog. But first, let’s review the differences between a skills-based resume and a chronological resume. 

How is a Skills-Based Resume Different from a Traditional Resume

The main difference between a skills-based resume and a traditional resume is that a skills-based resume focuses on your unique competencies and abilities. In contrast, a traditional resume focuses on the jobs you’ve had, listed in reverse chronological order. A traditional resume is best used when you have a lot of work experience and want to accentuate how you’ve progressed in your career. While the traditional resume may be the more widely used method for applying for a job, no rule says you have to use it.

The Benefits of Using a Skills-Based Resume

The most significant benefit of a skills-based resume is that it can be easily tailored to a particular job or industry. You can reorder and edit your skills list so employers can understand your qualifications for the position. A skills-based resume also allows you to connect your skills to keywords in a job description. 

For example, suppose a job description mentions teamwork or leadership as important qualifications. No matter what job you have now, you can include those skills on your resume and show results by mentioning that you brought together three departments to deliver a project ahead of schedule. To show customer service competency, you may note a positive customer rating score or reviews online. These examples may not directly correspond to the job or field you are applying for, but a smart recruiter will understand how you can provide relatable outcomes.

When to Use a Skills-Based Resume

When deciding what kind of resume to create, it’s important to consider your overall job search goals. If you are in a unique place in your career or facing a nontraditional job search, we recommend using a skills-based resume. Here are some examples of a job search goal that would call for a skills-based resume: 

  • You’re changing careers or industries, and your work experience is less applicable to your target job than your transferable skills are.
  • You want to emphasize a certain skill set needed for a particular skills-based job.
  • You’re not changing careers, but you lack relevant work experience for the job you want.
  • You have only held short-term jobs or internships rather than long-term work experience. 
  • You have significant gaps in your work history.
  • Your relative job experience comes from volunteering or a passion project. 
  • You’re new in your career and don’t have much work experience yet.

In all these situations, you’re more likely to be considered for the job you want by emphasizing your transferable skills on your resume. 

Skills-Based Resume Template

Here’s a simple template to build your skills-based resume.

Your Name | Desired Position

Address | Phone Number | Email Address

Website | LinkedIn

Job Objectives

Skills Summary

Skills List

  • Skill | Outcome
  • Skill | Outcome
  • Skill | Outcome


  • Dates | Job Title
  • Relevant Skills
  • Company Name | City
  • Dates | Job Title
  • Relevant Skills
  • Company Name | City


Graduation Date | School Name | Degree

Additional Skills (Tech, languages, etc.)

Additional Sections (Volunteer positions, Awards, etc.)

To ensure the recruiter reads your skills-based resume, it’s vital to write a strong objective statement and to include every critical skill they are looking for in your skills list. 

Writing a Strong Resume Objective

Your objective should be clear, concise, and tailored to the job you are applying for. Use keywords from the job description. Summarize your most appropriate competencies and how they apply to the job. Focus on why you want the job, how you think you’ll fit into the company culture and your overall goals for your career and the company. 

Writing a Strong Skills Summary and List

Start this section with a strong opening summary statement. Your opening statement should be clear and concise. Emphasize the value you will bring to the employer in a way that is easy for the recruiter to understand. Always use strong present tense words, active verbs, and applicable keywords from the job description.   

Then list your skills in order of importance and relevance to the job. Remember, these are transferable skills, meaning they are not relevant to only one industry or job title but to a specific function or action. For example, your skills list could include the following:

  • Active listening
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Collaboration
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Time management

You could also add technical knowledge like computer programs you are proficient in or professional competencies like familiarity with medical terminology if they are essential to the job. If they are not, you may want to include those skills in the “Additional Skills” section. Whenever possible, quantify each skill by providing specific examples or numbers. This will help employers understand your worth right at the beginning of their resume review. 

Quantifying Your Skills

Quantifying skills means providing specific examples or numbers demonstrating your ability to provide value to an employer through your mastery of a skill. You do this by providing measurable data. We mentioned a couple of examples in the section on the benefits of a skills-based resume. Here are a couple more concrete examples. 

To show mastery of critical thinking, a restaurant manager could mention how they analyzed sales data and made recommendations to improve the menu, which resulted in a 10% increase in food sales. For decision-making skills, the same restaurant manager could mention how they reduced costs by $100,000 by making better decisions about inventory management or making hard decisions on the staff roster. 

Notice we used specific numbers in these examples. When you quantify your skills on your resume, use measurable KPIs that any businessperson would recognize, such as a percentage increase in revenue or a dollar amount decrease in costs. This will help employers understand how you can benefit their company.

Because so many employees are changing careers or job-hopping to find a better work/life balance, skills-based hiring has become the norm in many industries, including healthcare. If you are considering a healthcare career but are worried about your lack of experience, a skills-based resume is an effective way to accentuate your unique potential to do the job. By highlighting your relevant skills for the job, your resume will stand out in the pile of more traditional resumes. To explore employment options in healthcare, give us a call today at (602) 468-6300 or fill out the form below for more information.

To explore employment options in healthcare, give us a call today at (602) 468-6300 or fill out the form below for more information.

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