Best Practices for Writing Combination Resumes

A combination resume is a less common type of resume that nevertheless might be great for you. What should you know about how to utilize this resume style?


Resume Example
Resume Example
Resume Example

Combination Resume

A combination resume is essentially an attempt to find a happy middle ground between the chronological format and the functional resume format. When choosing the right resume format for yourself, here are a few things to keep in mind about this hybrid resume format and how to make the most of it.
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What Is a Combination Resume?

A combination resume features elements from the functional resume and the chronological resume. It tends to center on skills, listing a significant number of them while still providing a wealth of information on work history, which the functional resume format tends to shy away from.

You can think of a combination resume as a functional resume that provides more work experience information, or as a chronological resume that tries to showcase key skills more prominently. Either way, you’ve understood the basic idea of the resume — it tries to avoid the disadvantages of other styles by taking key elements from each one.

How Is a Combination Resume Different From a Chronological Resume or a Functional Resume?

To understand the difference between a combination, chronological and functional resume, it’s important to look at what chronological and functional resumes provide.
The chronological resume is the most widely used type of resume. It focuses on your work history, assuming that your experience will be the best evidence that shows you’re ready for the type of work you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying to be a receptionist, you’ll want to use a chronological resume if most of the jobs you’ve held in your career have centered on receptionist work.
A functional resume goes in the opposite direction. With a functional resume, job history is downplayed. Instead, your skills and training are featured. You may also have additional sections such as “credentials” that showcase the skills necessary to do the job. With a functional resume, you’re trying to prove to your potential employer that your work experience (or lack thereof) doesn’t matter as much as your technical skills.
The weakness of the chronological resume is that it’s not great for people without extensive experience in a specific field, while the weakness of a functional resume is that some hiring managers may see it as trying to hide your work experience. A combination resume avoids both of those problems.

Why Should I Use a Combination Resume?

A combination resume works best if you have employment gaps or lack extensive experience in the specific field you’re going into. Career changers and recent college graduates often don’t have much in the way of work history. By highlighting skills you have that fit the job description as well as giving examples of how you’ve used these skills in previous work, you can create a professional resume that focuses on your strengths.

Combination Resume Format

Now that you know what a combination resume is and why you might use one, let’s go over how it works. These are the five major sections on a combination resume.
1. Header
The first section is the header. Typically, this will include your name, contact information, including phone number and email address, and LinkedIn profile if applicable. The header will state your name in a larger font than the other elements so that even at a glance, everyone knows who your resume belongs to.
2. Resume summary
Next, you’ll want to write your resume summary. A summary explains who you are and gives an overview of some of your most relevant skills and achievements. This is your opportunity to give some insight into the transferable skills and experiences you have that make you the right fit for the job.
3. Skills list
The next section is the skills section. Here is where you’ll list all your relevant skills, focusing especially on transferable skills and certifications. This section uses bullet points, and for a combination resume, you’ll typically have a fair number of skills (often up to eight to 12). It’s a good idea to organize these skills into different categories so they’re easy to scan.
4. Work History
Next, you’ll list your work history in reverse chronological order, with the most recent job first. Internships, volunteer jobs and other similar types of experience can go here if they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for. Show how you’ve used your top skills in your previous jobs. For example, if you’re applying for an administrative position, give examples of important responsibilities or achievements that show how you’ve used great communication skills, or demonstrate that you have professional experience working with office processes.
5. Education
The last section of your resume will be your education. This is where you’ll put your college education and any certifications you’ve gone through training for. Only list your high school experience if you don’t have any college experience. If you’re listing where you went to college and the degree you earned, you don’t need to list your high school and GPA.

Combination Resume Examples

Before you write your resume, it’s a good idea to have a combination resume example or two on hand so you can see what other people in your field are submitting right now. ResumeHelp offers combination resume examples across a wide variety of jobs. No matter what position you’re going for, you can find a resume that suits your needs. From there, you can use a combination resume template to start writing your resume. We can also help you create a combination resume from scratch, using our step-by-step resume builder.

FAQ: Combination Resumes

Q: Is a combination resume the best resume for me?

There’s no such thing as a single best resume. When choosing a format, your best choice will always depend on the job you’re applying for and how well your skills and experiences match up. However, a combination resume might be a great option if any of these things are true:

  • You have large gaps in your employment
  • You have recently gone through or are looking to make a career change
  • The job you’re applying for doesn’t match well with your employment history
  • You’ve never had a job title the same as the one you’re applying for

If any of these apply to you, you should consider using a combination resume.

Q: When should you avoid using a combination resume?

There are some situations where a chronological or functional resume might work better. You should rethink your decision to use the combination resume if any of these things are true:

  • The job title you’re applying for is almost identical to those in your resume history
  • You’re applying for a job that requires extensive experience in the same field
  • You’re a first-time job seeker or lack work experience

Q: How should I present my education section?

First off, only reference your high school graduation if you have no other education. Even then, it might be worth it to leave it off. People don’t really care about your high school graduation or your high school GPA; they just care that you graduated or got your GED. If you don’t have a college degree, don’t worry about filling out the education section.

One type of education you can definitely reference is certifications in areas that are important to what your current work is all about. If you have a number of certifications, you may want to create a new category under skills (titled “Certifications”) where you can showcase all of those credentials. The recruiter who reads your resume will be grateful to see you have documentation that backs up your skills.

Q: Should I explain employment gaps in my resume?

You don’t need to explain any employment gaps in your resume, but you may want to add a bit of explanation in your cover letter if you feel it helps your job candidacy. For example, someone applying as a health caretaker might want to mention a gap in employment where they had to take care of a sick relative. These explanations benefit your case.

In general, you don’t have to preemptively explain employment gaps. The intention behind a combination resume is to ensure that it doesn’t really matter. Your qualifications and work highlights should be enough to help a recruiter understand why you’re applying for the job. However, it’s usually a good idea to have an explanation in case the recruiter wants to ask you about it during your interview.

Q: What do I do if the combination resume isn’t giving me results?

Sometimes a specific resume format just doesn’t work. Even if you feel like the combination resume is great for you, you might find that you’re not getting any bites as you submit your resume over and over again. If this is the case, consider switching to a functional or combination resume.

There’s nothing wrong with trying out different types of resumes. That’s why we have so many different resume samples at ResumeHelp. A combination resume template isn’t always going to be the right answer, so try writing your resume with our step-by-step resume builder using a different format. It might surprise you how effective another type of resume can be.

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