A well-written combination resume can be a powerful tool for promoting a professional image and getting a job interview. It can help candidates looking for a higher position and those who want to make a career change. It is also a good way to show strong skills for senior executive positions.
What Is a Combination Resume?
A combination resume is a format that marries the best aspects of a chronological resume and functional resume. A chronological resume focuses on the candidate’s work experience, and a functional resume on skills. A combination resume uses both work history and skills to capture the employer’s attention.
- Combination resumes work well for job seekers with a significant amount of work experience, and who also have strong skills and accomplishments.
- Recruiters welcome combination resume format for senior executive positions that require highly-specialized skills. It is easy to identify these skills while also confirming that the candidate has the required work experience.
- This format is suitable for job seekers who want to change careers and have worked for well-known companies. It can be used to showcase transferable skills and emphasize outstanding employment history.
- When a candidate has worked for the same employer or held the same position for a long time, a combination resume will highlight the candidate’s skills and achievements.
- Combination resumes can become longer than other resume formats. Repetition may be another issue.
- Career changes, job hopping, and employment gaps are noticeable in the work history section.
Combination Resume vs Other Formats
These are the three main types of resume formats:
Understanding each resume format and knowing the differences among them will help you decide which one is best for you.
A chronological resume format emphasizes the work experience and duties of each position, same as a combination resume does, except the latter also underlines skills. Learn what to consider beforehand in order to choose among these resume formats:
- FOCAL POINT: A combination resume has a wider focal point. Think about how your work history resembles the job you are applying to. If you want to start working in a somewhat different career field, it is a good idea to also emphasize your skills. In that case, a combination resume would be best for you.
- HIERARCHY OF POSITION: If you want to apply to a higher position, a chronological resume might give an impression of insufficient experience. On the other hand, a combination resume will mention skills and accomplishments, which will make your resume more appealing.
- REPETITION: A common mistake in combination resumes is to list your skills and then list them again in the employment history section. Keep this in mind as you arrange information.
Combination vs Functional
The functional format focuses on skills but de-emphasizes the work history. The combination format has equal emphasis on skills and professional experience. The following differences will help you decide whether a combination or a functional resume is best for you:
- FOCAL POINT: Since both formats mention your skills, the deciding factor is your work history. If your job duties and achievements were relevant to the job you are applying for, use a combination format. If you are making a radical career change, a functional resume will work better.
- SENIOR POSITION: A senior executive position has more specific requirements. Therefore, recruiters are often more thorough when selecting candidates for this kind of position. If this is the type of job you are applying to, use a combination format.
|Focal point||Work experience||Skills||Both|
|Work experience||Detailed||Not detailed||Detailed|
|Time on each position||Present||Not present||Present|
|Use for changing career||Not convenient||Convenient||Not convenient|
|Layout||Professional / Traditional||Creative / Non-conventional||Midpoint between professional and creative|
|Main Benefit||Shows information recruiters want to know about job positions and activities||Displays key skills needed for the new position||Includes the best features of both formats: work history, skills, and achievements|
|Main Downside||The lack of experience is more obvious than in other formats||Recruiters may not favor it, as it isn’t straightforward about previous jobs||May be redundant|
Combination Resume Examples
To see what a combination format looks like, browse through the following resume examples. You can use these for creating your own combination resume.
Entry-level Combination Resume
This hybrid resume from Eastern Illinois University blends skills and education focused on public relations with a limited experience timeline. This style of resume works best for new job seekers or those looking for entry-level positions—the timeline isn’t hidden, but isn’t given the same prominence that some of our other templates give it. At the same time, listing multiple activities that occurred in the same year gives the impression of a longer timeline, and also shows that this applicant is self-motivated.
In this example, the applicant is applying to positions that will make use of her new degree and limited but relevant experiences.
Sales and Marketing Combination Resume
From Central Carolina Community College, this transferable skills template focuses on sets of skills gained through similar job types. The skills listed, which focus on sales, marketing, and communication, showcase a broad knowledge of the field. Listed qualifications are thematic, and tell potential employers that she has had past success working with the public, and wants to continue to do so.
In this example, the applicant has been a self-employed importer and an office manager, and is hoping to leverage those experiences to gain employment in sales. This template works best for people who have a good employment history and extensive knowledge of the job’s needs.
Entry-level Accounting Combination Resume
This resume sample from Utah Valley University gives equal measure to education, work experience, and professional skills. The resume is organized to show how all three qualifications relate to the accounting profession. The limited work experience is fleshed out with descriptions of extra duties which are both relevant to the field and show that this applicant is motivated to move up in a company.
In this example, a recently earned degree and experience as an assistant to an accountant are showcased in order for the applicant to earn a job in accounting with a company that offers internal advancement.
Skills-focused Combination Resume
This combination resume from Missouri State is a smart presentation for an applicant with a career-appropriate education but only entry-level experience. By top-loading education and giving roughly equal weight to skills and experience, the applicant is able to present a resume that is well-rounded even when experience is limited. This structure favors entry-level job seekers, or journeymen in trades that involve apprenticeships.
In this example, the candidate has a bachelor’s degree in history, but a minor in administration. Her listed skills and work-experiences emphasize communication and graphic design, which flesh out her degree.
Customer Service Resume
This casually styled template from Monash University is a great example of a resume for people who aren’t looking for careers. By listing first a limited availability, the applicant is showing that this is meant to be a part-time, or perhaps second, job. Experience is given in a manner that will show knowledge in the field of customer service, without giving a full work history. The list of skills and personal qualities round out a resume focused on entry-level customer service.
In this example, the applicant has multiple degrees and probably a career in a different field. This application is great for showcasing relevant skills and experiences while not coming on too strong and being labeled as over-qualified. This style of resume is also great for students looking for summer or weekend jobs.
Free Combination Resume Templates
The following templates will help you write a combination resume from scratch. All of these templates are completely customizable. You can choose the layout that best suits your personality while maintaining a professional look.
Basic and Simple
Combination Resume Builder
Use our free resume comparison tool to help you build a highly effective resume. The wide variety of features available can help you significantly, even if this is the first time you are writing your resume.
The secret to maximizing the benefits of a resume builder is to have an idea beforehand of what you want. A combination resume keeps a conventional look and is concise. After choosing a resume builder, navigate through the templates and select a text-based one that enables both skills and work history sections to fit on a maximum of two pages. These sections are the most important elements of your resume, so be sure to use a template that gives equal importance to both.
Combination Resume Layout
A combination layout has several characteristics that will help you produce the desired impact. You can incorporate the following points in your resume for an effective combination format:
- A combination resume usually has more information than other types. Keep this in mind; be concise, and write short sentences. Break the text into small paragraphs, and use bullet points to list your skills and job duties. This will help the recruiter navigate through the document easily.
- A professional style is best. If you are in a conventional career field, use black text and a white background. If you are applying to a modern firm or for a less conventional job, a little color might be well-received and can add some of your personality to the document. The templates show where color may be appropriate. For example, it can be used for subheadings or to separate lines.
- Organize skills and accomplishments in order of relevance, from the most relevant to the least. The order of your work experience should be chronological, starting with the most recent. You can discard unrelated experience or positions from too long ago.
- Make sure your resume is not longer than two pages.
How to Create a Combination Resume
The tools you have gained at this point will help you create a compelling combination resume. The following instructions will give you a detailed guide to writing each section.
Combination Resume Outline
These are the elements every combination resume should cover:
- Personal Information
- Professional Profile or Summary
- Relevant Skills
- Work Experience
In a combination resume, the Relevant Skills section also includes achievements.
After these sections, you may add extra information that is not completely relevant to the job you want but can boost your resume. Some examples are foreign languages, volunteer programs, professional affiliations, etc.
It is better not to include hobbies or references. Including them is an outdated practice and does not give valuable information about your professional capability.
The process of writing your combination resume will be easier if you know beforehand what information you will include. Most of the document will be based on your skills and your employment history, so let’s start from there.
Go back to the job description and identify which skills are important for the position. List your skills and accomplishments using the same keywords used in the description. Keep your list relevant to the position. Ask yourself the following questions to get ideas for the Relevant Skills section:
- Did I get an award or recognition for my results?
- Have I improved any procedure to make it more effective or faster?
- Did I save money for the company?
- Have I helped my subordinates or teammates to develop new skills?
- Did I get a promotion or take on bigger responsibilities?
- Did I prevent any problem from happening?
- Did I gain new clients or projects for my company?
For the Work Experience section, think about the activities you have done that apply to the position you want. To help you identify these elements, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who did I interact with? Were they customers, managers, or suppliers?
- What kind of products did I produce? Were they tangible products, applications, or analytical reports?
- In what projects was I involved and what was the goal of the projects?
- What tools or software did I use?
- Which environments am I familiar with at work? Have I worked in a multicultural company, out of the office visiting clients, or alone?
Once you finish, make sure you are using the same keywords you saw in the job ad. For example, if you wrote ‘implemented workshops to strengthen leadership,’ but the job ad says ‘training on soft skills, such as leadership,’ add the terms ‘training’ and ‘soft skills.’ The message might be the same, but remember that your resume may be filtered initially by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Using the same keywords as the job description or ad will help get your resume past this stage. Later, we will revisit the skills and work experience you listed in this step.
Only include essential information: your complete name, address, email, and phone number.
Keep it simple. There is no need to add a subheading. You can add the address of your professional website, portfolio, or LinkedIn Account if you have them.
Your name should be visible at a quick glance. You can ensure this by centering it at the top of the document and have it in a bigger font size.
Use a general location, like the name of your city. Avoid a complete address as some recruiters will reject your resume if they consider you too far away to commute. You can add ‘Willing to relocate‘ if the position requires moving to another city.
It is important to provide a mobile number. This way recruiters will be able to contact you faster. Use an email address that has your first and last names, not nicknames, as this can seem unprofessional.
A professional profile, also known as a qualifications summary, provides a quick account of your professional background, relevant skills, and achievements. Its main goal is to grab the reader’s attention by portraying you as the kind of professional the position requires. The professional profile should be a brief paragraph of around 50 words, and it should usually begin with your degree or job title and the number of years of experience you have in the field. Then, mention your most relevant skills and support them with achievements. You can list certificates, recognitions, or accomplishments with quantified information.
To illustrate this, let’s look at two professional profiles. The first one is not well written and the second one is. This is the professional profile of a credit analyst:
Some of the information is subjective. There is nothing that tells the recruiter this description is accurate.
In contrast, the following professional profile gives more valuable information:
Both profiles belong to the same professional, but the second one will grab the recruiter’s attention more effectively because quantified information and objective facts, such as a performance indicator and an award, are included.
Knowing about your accomplishments will help the recruiter picture you doing the same for their company.
Here you will use the list of skills and accomplishments you wrote before starting the resume. It will be easier to understand what you can bring to the table if you classify your skills in categories.
Skills can belong to one of three categories:
- Job-related Skills: These are technical skills, usually learned at work or through academic training. For example, for a web developer, job-related skills might be HTML5, MySQL, and Ruby.
- Transferable Skills: This kind of skill is your best ally for a career change. While working in a certain position, you might have developed abilities you can apply to another field. For example, as a product developer, you might have coordinated a sales staff. This experience can be used to apply for a sales management position.
- Adaptive or Personal Skills: These are personal characteristics that help you do your job. These may seem subjective, so it is important to support them with achievements. For example, you can support leadership skills by mentioning that a team you lead received a company award for high performance.
Arrange your own skills in categories like this. Group them in four or five subsections and organize them in order of relevance. The most important skill for the job you are applying to should go first.
Use action-oriented verbs use measured information to define the accomplishments and projects you have been involved with.
A straightforward way to write down your achievements is to use this formula: Your action + Who benefitted + Measured result. For example, ‘Designed a program for retention of talent when onboarding employees, which resulted in 30% decrease in turnover after three months.‘
It is preferable to list your skills and achievements in bullet points. This keeps the sections brief and easy to read.
This section is for listing your job positions and main duties. To create this section, use the list of activities you compiled before starting the resume. It is not necessary to mention your achievements at each position. In a combination format, achievements go in the Relevant Skills section.
For each position, indicate the employer, job title, duties, and dates. Generally, you should only include paid jobs. However, if you don’t have enough experience, you can add volunteer work or university internships. Adding unpaid work can also help if activities were related to the job you want.
Your current or latest job should be listed first. Continue in reverse chronological order. Recent roles should be described in detail. It is more important for recruiters to know what you can do now. Older roles can be summarized.
Describe daily tasks and general goals of each position. For example, a sales executive may have the daily task of cold calling potential clients and a goal to grow the number of clients in a specific market. Adapt these items according to the responsibilities listed in the job ad and the keywords used.
Also, remember to organize your duties so the most relevant to the job position appears first. You may need to tailor the order in which you list activities for each job application so your resume is appealing to your target employer.
If you held more than one position for the same employer, make sure to list each position separately so your career growth is more noticeable.
If your work experience is not as strong as your skills, you can use the Education section to give extra support to those skills. Just remember to keep it relevant and brief.
You should include the name and location of your university or educational institution, your major, and the type of degree obtained. If you recently graduated, you can add your GPA if it was 3.0 or above.
Include relevant seminars, workshops, and courses if they validate a skill.
Normally, you should include dates in this section, but it is not mandatory. You can leave them out if ageism is a concern.
If your resume is now longer than two pages, go through it and see what you can cut out. Look for repetition or long sentences. Editing your layout might help you optimize space, but be sure to keep the document as uncluttered as possible.
A combination resume has the strong advantage of showing the best of your skills and work experience. When written the right way, it can be an effective tool for landing an interview for your desired job.
Let’s revisit the most important steps for writing a compelling combination resume.
- Get some of our free samples and templates to make the process of writing your resume easier.
- Use our free resume builder tool to choose the best features available for creating a resume
- List your skills, achievements, and job duties, and use the same keywords as in the job ad
- Quantify your accomplishments, and include measured information in your professional profile and in the Relevant Skills section
- Organize your skills and job activities in order of relevance
- Be concise, and use a professional style
Follow these instructions to build an outstanding resume. Now, you can get ready to interview for the job you want!