Best of both worlds: How to write a combination resume

Best of both worlds: How to write a combination resume

Ben TemplePublished on: September 23, 2020
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A combination resume joins the best qualities of the reverse-chronological and functional resume formats. It allows job-seekers to foreground their skillset, as with a functional resume, but it doesn’t sacrifice the simple organization of a reverse-chronological resume.

For the right job-seeker, a combination resume can be an important asset. But before you write a combination resume, it’s important to know how to make the most of it.

What is a combination resume?

Combination resumes combine the features of reverse-chronological resumes and functional resumes.

In a reverse-chronological format, the Work History section is the most prominent part of the resume. Work experience is listed in order, beginning with the most recent position, and each role is described in detail.

In a functional resume, skills and competencies are emphasized over work experience. Functional resumes foreground the Skills section and group work experience together according to the skills required, rather than in order.

A combination resume emphasizes your skills like a functional resume, but also features a reverse-chronological work experience section. The prominent Skills section allows you to showcase your best and most relevant abilities, and the Work History section gives employers a clear timeline of your past positions.

Why should you write a combination resume?

A combination resume gives you more control over what skills employers will notice when they read your resume. These may be technical skills important for the job you are applying to, transferable skills from a previous career, or any other relevant skill set. By emphasizing your abilities separately from your work experience, you can ensure that employers know what you can do without having to scour previous positions for details.

Further, the reverse-chronological work experience section of a combination resume gives employers a clear picture of your previous positions. Unlike a functional resume, which can make the timeline of your career more confusing, a combination resume ensures that the dates of each position are easy to read.

Who should use a combination resume?

While combination resumes may not be ideal for all job-seekers, there are some circumstances where they can be very useful. If you are in any of these situations, consider using a combination resume for your next job application:

You are changing careers

Combination resumes are a great way to show the transferable skills you gained in a previous industry. With its emphasis on abilities rather than past positions, a combination resume allows you to pick out the best skills from your work history and make sure they are visible right at the top of the resume.

A combination resume should not be used to obscure the fact that you are changing careers, however. It should be used to foreground what you are able to do, while letting your less relevant experience take a back seat.

You have gaps in your work history

If you have had long periods of unemployment, your work history may be difficult to display in a reverse-chronological resume. A combination resume will allow you to begin with a strong skills section that showcases your abilities so that the gaps in your employment won’t be the first thing employers see.

The gaps will still be visible in your work history section, and your employer may have questions. A combination resume simply gives you the power to show off your skills right away.

You have a history of job-hopping

If you have held several positions with short tenures, it may be a good idea to emphasize your skills and achievements separately from your work experience. Employers are looking to make long-term investments in their employees, and they can be wary of people who haven’t held a job for long. With a combination resume, you can ensure that your most impressive skills are the first thing they read.

You have many years of experience

When you have been working for more than a decade in the same industry, the list of jobs you have held can become long. This is impressive, but the most relevant experience can be difficult to pick out. With a combination resume you can make sure that your most relevant skills and accomplishments are easy to find right at the top of your resume, without the employer having to read through your entire resume.

How to write a combination resume

Now that you know whether or not a combination resume is right for you, it’s time to get writing.

1: Contact information

Like all resumes, your name, phone number, and email address should all be easy to find at the top of your resume.

2: Skills

The most important section on your combination resume is your Skills section. This section is located near the top of your resume, and it should demonstrate the depth and breadth of your abilities.

You can title it Key Skills, Core Competencies, Qualifications Summary, or whatever best fits your experience and your resume.

If you have more than one skill area you would like to showcase, you can separate the Skills section into different categories. For example, splitting your skills among Web Development, Project Management, and Data Analysis headings lets the employer know where to look for each skill.

Your Skills section can include technical skills and soft skills, and should use active language to describe your abilities. Remember to customize your skills section for every application so you know that the skills you highlight are the right ones for the role.

3: Work History

Your work experience can be shorter than it would be in a reverse-chronological resume, but it is still important. List past positions in order and give each item a brief description. Use quantifiable information to demonstrate your accomplishments and responsibilities, and be sure to include the titles and dates of each role.

4: Education

Your Education is important, but this section can be brief. List your degrees in reverse-chronological order, and only include your GPA if you are a recent graduate and it is higher than 3.5.

5: Optional Sections

If you have other information that doesn’t fit into the sections above, new sections can be added to accommodate that. A summary, a portfolio section, a certifications section, or a volunteering experience section can all be great additions to a resume. As long as your resume isn’t too long, include the sections you need to make the best case for yourself.

Combination resume example

Combination Resume Example

Ben Temple

Ben is a writer and customer support specialist with 5 years of experience helping job-seekers create their careers. He believes in the importance of a great resume and the power of coffee.

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