A well-written combination resume can be a powerful tool for promoting a professional image and getting a job interview. In this article, you will find an extensive guide to building a combination resume. Use our free resume samples and templates, or our Resume Builder, to help you create a compelling document.
A combination resume is a format that marries the best aspects of a chronological resume format and a functional resume format. A chronological resume focuses on the candidate’s work experience; a functional resume on skills. A combination resume uses both work history and skills to capture the employer’s attention.
Your combination resume will follow this layout:
This section sits at the top of your document and shares all of your crucial personal information; name, phone number, professional-style email, and job-relevant websites or social media accounts.
A two- to three-sentence paragraph near the top of your resume. The brief statement acts as your professional “elevator pitch” –– you’ll contextualize your previous accomplishments and training based on the needs of the new job for which you’re applying.
This section sits at the middle of the document and will highlight your best skills and professional attributes. This section follows a simple bullet list format and should feature six to eight different skills. Avoid lists longer or shorter than that.
Like its chronological cousin, this section features your most recent job post and tracks your professional background in reverse- chronological order. This section will feature your previous job titles, employers, dates of employment, and job-related duties and accomplishments.
End your resume with your education. List our your degrees, field of study, date of completion, as well as any job-relevant training certificates or courses that you finished.
Entry-Level Marketing Associate
Sales and Marketing
This resume gives equal measure to education, job history and professional skills. The document 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. Showcasing the applicant’s recently earned degree and experience as an accountant’s assistant can help earn a job with a company that offers growth opportunities.
The combination resume has plenty of benefits, especially if you’re a recent graduate or an entry-level job seeker looking to develop their career. However, this format can also have its pratfalls. We’ve broken down the pros and cons of using a combination resume below.
The tools you have gained at this point will help you create a compelling combination resume. Here’s how to properly write a combination resume before you kick off your job search.
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 employment history, so let’s start from there.
Go back to the job description and identify what expertise is important for the position. List your abilities 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:
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:
Once you finish, make sure you’re 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 document may be filtered initially by an applicant tracking system (ATS). Using the same keywords as the job description will help get your resume past this stage. Later, we will revisit the know-how and work history you listed in this step.
Only include essential information: your complete name, address, email and phone number.
A summary statement is a two- to three-sentence paragraph that provides a quick account of your professional background, relevant abilities and achievements. Its main goal is to grab the reader’s attention by portraying you as the kind of professional the position requires.
To illustrate this, let’s look at two summary statements. The first one is not well-written and the second one is. This is the summary statement 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 it includes quantified information and objective facts, such as a performance indicator and an award.
Knowing about your accomplishments will help the recruiter picture you doing the same for their company.
Here you will use the list of abilities 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 expertise into categories.
Skills can belong to one of three categories:
Arrange your own prowess in categories of four or five subsections and list them in order of relevance. The most important skill for the job you are applying to should go first.
Use action-oriented verbs that highlight measured information to define the accomplishments and projects you have been involved with. If you’re not sure where to start, we compiled a list of the most sought-after skills and broke them down to career industries and categories.
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 a 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 in 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 the activities relate 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 the 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 career history 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 is 3.5 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 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:
Make sure you consider the two other resume formats to determine if a combination resume best suits your needs. As previously mentioned, the combination format serves a dual purpose of showcasing both your skills and job history. Read on to find out how the other resume formats differ and if they are more appropriate for you.
A chronological format emphasizes the work experience and duties of each position, the same as a combination resume format does, except the latter also underlines skills. Learn what to consider beforehand in order to choose the resume format that will work for you.
The functional format focuses on skills but de-emphasizes 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:
Although this format is well-suited for most job candidates, you should use a combination resume if you fall into any of the following categories:
Recent graduate: Congrats on graduation! As a recent grad, you probably have plenty of academic and technical knowledge of the job, but your practical knowledge is likely limited to internships, research labs and classroom practicals. This resume prioritizes your technical skills near the top of the resume, while leaving space for you to highlight your informal, but valid, experience in your work history section.
Entry-level employee: Entry-level is a bit of a misnomer. Most entry-level jobs ask for three- to five-years of experience, most of which you probably have from informal experience attached to volunteering, apprenticeships, internships or academic training. The focus on both skills and work history lets you highlight your expanse of knowledge.
Intern to full-time: As we mentioned previously, internships may read as informal work experience, but you gain plenty of hands-on experience from an academic and professional perspective. This resume prioritizes the skills you earn from class and your internships but slots your internship experience into your work history as a support to your skills.
Professional with less than ten years of experience: Although you have more experience than an entry-level employee, a combination resume helps you showcase your professional abilities more than the common chronological resume. A chronological resume highlights seniority, decades of accomplishments and mid-level promotions, whereas a combination resume focuses on technical abilities and lets you grow into your professional achievements.
Although they’re more familiar with the chronological resume, recruiters do appreciate and like the combination resume. Recruiters prefer resumes that can establish clear timelines between jobs, and can demonstrate clear responsibilities and professional growth as candidates advance.
Although these two formats flip-flop their skills and work history sections, the combination resume still dedicates a section to your work history and requires a detailed timeline and description of each role. It satisfies the recruiter’s curiosity while prioritizing your technical abilities in your skills sections.
A combination resume focuses on two things –– your formal work history and the professional skills that you’ve gained in formal and informal settings. This format prioritizes the skills section in order to let entry- and mid-level employees professionally compete against their more formally experienced colleagues, but it also values your work history and all of your professional accomplishments, including promotions or successful career campaigns.
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