Writing a Skills-Based Resume: Template & Guide

Elizabeth Muenzen, CPRW
By Elizabeth Muenzen, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: June 03, 2024

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A skills-based resume is a resume format that emphasizes a candidate’s abilities and competencies over their work history and educational credentials. 

Job seekers in the early stages of their careers or with non-traditional career paths can use a skills-based resume to showcase the qualities that make them a great fit for a role. 

We’ll delve into the key components, strategies and benefits of skills-based resumes, empowering you to present your skills effectively to land more interviews. 

Browse our skills-based resume templates and examples and use our Resume Builder to craft a job-winning resume that sets you apart from the competition.   

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What is a skills-based resume?

A skills-based resume, also known as a functional resume, is a resume format that focuses on skills and abilities instead of chronological work history.

In a skills-based resume, candidates emphasize what they can do and what qualifications they possess rather than where and when they acquired those skills.   

While skills-based resumes can be a powerful tool in many scenarios, it’s important to note that the most widely accepted format is the chronological resume, which focuses on work history. 

See our tips below to determine if a skills-based resume is the correct resume format for your situation and professional background.

Who should use a skills-based resume?

Chronological resumes are ideal for candidates with a consistent employment history that is relevant to their target role.

Skills-based resumes are useful for candidates who want to highlight specific skills that may not be evident from their work experience alone. 

Below are a few examples of job seekers who might opt for a skills-based resume rather than a traditional chronological resume.

  • Recent graduates: Individuals who have recently completed their education and have limited work experience can highlight their academic achievements, internships, projects and extracurricular activities to demonstrate their skills and potential.
  • Career changers: Those transitioning into a new industry or field can use a skills-based resume to emphasize transferable skills and relevant experiences, even if they lack direct work experience in the new field.
  • Freelancers or contract workers: Freelancers, consultants and contractors who have worked on multiple projects for different clients can use a skills-based resume to showcase their diverse expertise, rather than focusing solely on a linear work history.
  • Job seekers with employment gaps: Those who are addressing employment gaps on a resume due to reasons such as caregiving responsibilities or health issues can use a skills-based resume to redirect the focus away from gaps and highlight relevant skills.
  • Individuals with varied work experience: People with diverse work experiences across multiple industries or roles can use a skills-based resume to tie together their different experiences under common skill sets and competencies.
  • Candidates with non-traditional backgrounds: Individuals with unconventional career paths can use a skills-based resume to showcase the hard skills or soft skills they’ve acquired outside of traditional employment settings.

Skills-based resume example

The sample skills-based resume below exemplifies what a compelling skills-based resume should look like.

Skills Based Resume Example

How to write a skills-based resume 

Follow the tips below to craft your skills-based resume. Explore our library of resume examples for expertly crafted samples to inspire your writing.

Craft a compelling resume summary

Your resume summary is the first chance to showcase how your skills align with the job requirements. 

In three to five sentences, introduce yourself to the hiring manager and highlight your key skills and applicable experiences.

Below is an example of a resume summary for a project manager transitioning into software development.

“Motivated project manager with a proven track record of successfully leading cross-functional teams and delivering projects on time and within budget. Proficient in project management methodologies, with a solid foundation in programming languages such as Python and Java. Recognized for exceptional organizational skills, problem-solving abilities and a collaborative approach to project execution. Eager to apply management expertise and technical acumen to contribute to the development of innovative software solutions in a dynamic team environment.”

This summary communicates the candidate’s transferable skills, highlighting their project management experience while emphasizing their readiness to transition into a new field.

Identify and categorize your skills

A well-organized resume skills section is the key component of a skills-based resume. 

Start by identifying the essential skills and keywords in the job description to determine which ones align with your qualifications.  

Next, select three to five skill categories that match your background and the requirements of the role. These are the primary skill sets that you will add to your resume skills section. 

Under each skill category, add three quantifiable achievements to demonstrate your proficiency and impact in each area. 

Remember to start each bullet point with a powerful action verb to convey your impact clearly and confidently.

To get started, refer to the sample skills-based resume skills section below.

PROFESSIONAL SKILLS

Project Management

  • Led a cross-functional team of 10 members to successfully launch a new product, resulting in a 20% increase in revenue within the first quarter.
  • Implemented Agile project management methodologies, resulting in a 30% improvement in project delivery time and a 15% reduction in budget overruns.
  • Developed and maintained detailed project plans, schedules and budgets, ensuring on-time and on-budget completion for multiple projects.

Software Development

  • Developed and deployed a customer relationship management (CRM) system using Python and Django, resulting in a 25% increase in client retention rates.
  • Designed and implemented a responsive web application using React.js, resulting in a 40% improvement in user engagement metrics.
  • Conducted code reviews and implemented best practices, resulting in a 20% reduction in software bugs and a more stable product release cycle.

Problem-Solving

  • Identified and resolved critical technical issues, minimizing downtime and ensuring uninterrupted service for clients.
  • Implemented process improvements to streamline workflows and increase operational efficiency, resulting in a 20% reduction in production costs.
  • Led root cause analysis efforts to investigate recurring issues, implementing corrective actions to improve overall system reliability.

Add relevant professional experience

Although your skills-based resume should primarily focus on your core competencies, you should also include a concise work history section featuring relevant roles or experiences.

List prior jobs in reverse-chronological order, including the job titles, company names and dates of employment.

Below is an example of a work history section for a skills-based resume. 

WORK HISTORY 

Software Developer

Porch Group | Seattle, WA

March 2023 – Present

Project Manager

Smartsheet | Bellevue, WA

June 2017 – March 2023

If you do not have paid work experience, you can feature relevant projects or volunteer experiences that demonstrate your skills and competencies. 

Explore our guide on writing a resume without experience for additional direction on crafting a resume when you are in the early stages of your career or changing fields.

List your academic credentials

If you have pertinent educational credentials, list them in a dedicated education section at the bottom of your resume. 

See how to list education on a resume for examples and formatting tips from career advice experts.

Refer to the example of a skills-based resume education section below to get started.

EDUCATION

Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration 

University of Washington | Seattle, WA 

Include relevant certifications

If you have any relevant certifications, list them in a separate section on your resume. For each certification, include the issuing organization, date earned and a brief description. 

Certifications demonstrate that you possess relevant technical skills and competencies gained outside of formal education or past work experience.  

The sample below demonstrates how to list certifications on a skills-based resume.

CERTIFICATIONS

Project Management Professional (PMP)

  • Project Management Institute (PMI)
  • Date Earned: January 2021
  • Description: Internationally recognized certification demonstrating proficiency in project management principles, practices and methodologies.

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

  • Scrum Alliance
  • Date Earned: May 2020
  • Description: Certification validating knowledge and expertise in Scrum framework and Agile project management practices.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

  • Microsoft
  • Date Earned: November 2017
  • Description: Certification demonstrating foundational knowledge of Microsoft Azure cloud services and solutions.

Feature optional resume sections

You do not need to limit yourself to the skills section of your resume to showcase your applicable qualifications and abilities. 

For example, sales professionals selling products in international markets may need language skills to communicate with clients and negotiate deals effectively.

In this scenario, a job seeker might choose to include a “Languages” section on their resume to list their foreign language proficiency.

A sampling of 25,000 resumes created on My Perfect Resume in 2023 identified the top 10 most common languages other than English listed on resumes:

  • Spanish
  • Hindi 
  • French 
  • Arabic 
  • German 
  • Punjabi 
  • Chinese Mandarin 
  • Urdu 
  • Tamil 
  • Russian

Here are some additional sections that you can include on your resume to highlight relevant skills, qualifications and experiences:

  • Projects 
  • Awards and Honors 
  • Publications
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Leadership Experience
  • Licenses 
  • Volunteer Experience 
  • Relevant Coursework 
  • Internship Experience
  • Research

Skills-based resume template

You can follow the skills-based resume sample template below to get started crafting your resume. See what a resume looks like for additional examples and formatting tips. 

[Your Name]

[Your Contact Information]

[Three to five sentences detailing your professional background and touching on the key qualifications that make you a great fit for the role.]

PROFESSIONAL SKILLS

[Skill Category]
  • [Relevant experience or accomplishment.]
  • [Relevant experience or accomplishment.]
  • [Relevant experience or accomplishment.]
[Skill Category]
  • [Relevant experience or accomplishment.]
  • [Relevant experience or accomplishment.]
  • [Relevant experience or accomplishment.]
[Skill Category]
  • [Relevant experience or accomplishment.]
  • [Relevant experience or accomplishment.]
  • [Relevant experience or accomplishment.]

WORK HISTORY

[Job Title]
[Company Name], [Location]
[Dates of Employment]

EDUCATION

[Degree] in [Field of Study]
[University/College Name], [Location]

CERTIFICATIONS 

  • [Certification/License 1]
  • [Certification/License 2]
  • [Certification/License 3]

Skills to feature on your resume

With the rise of skills-based hiring practices, many companies are focusing more on skills and less on traditional markers of success such as years of experience or education.  

It is important for job seekers to showcase the skills that hiring managers seek to demonstrate their fit for the job. 

My Perfect Resume’s sampling of 25,000 resumes from 2023 found that the following skills were the most frequently listed by job seekers:

  • Time management 
  • Customer service
  • Critical thinking 
  • Active listening 
  • Attention to detail 
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Teamwork and collaboration 
  • Microsoft Office 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Project management

Additionally, the sampling identified the following as the most commonly listed hard skills:

  • Project management 
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Python 
  • SQL
  • Javascript
  • C
  • HTML
  • Java
  • CSS

A skills-based resume is an excellent place to showcase these skills. Remember to tailor your resume by aligning your skills with the ones listed in the job description.

Key takeaways

  1. A skills-based resume is a resume format that emphasizes skills and competencies rather than focusing on work history.
  2. Skills-based resumes are an excellent choice for job seekers with limited experience or job seekers who are changing fields or have non-traditional career paths.
  3. The skills section of your skills-based resume should include three to five key skill areas with concrete examples demonstrating your impact in each area.
  4. You can also showcase skills and qualifications in optional resume sections such as certifications, languages or awards and honors.
  5. Tailor your resume to your target role by incorporating the key skills and competencies listed in the job description.

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