Anatomy of a combination resume
A combination resume gives job candidates a great deal of flexibility in how to structure a resume, but it should always contain the following features:
Contact information. It should include your name, as well as your city, state, ZIP code, telephone number, email address, and the most up-to-date links to your LinkedIn profile and your professional website.
Either a professional summary or an objective statement. You have a great opportunity to immediately highlight your top qualifications for the job with a compelling introduction. In a summary or an objective statement, you can incorporate your goals, principal skills, industry-specific competence or strong, notable accomplishments. Remember that you want to entice hiring managers to read the rest of your resume.
A first skills section. Written out in a simple bulleted list, you can label this section “Summary of Qualifications,” “Skills,” “Relevant Skills,” Professional Skills, “Technical Skills” or “Soft Skills,” depending on your chosen resume style and what you want to add. Your skills should always match the job description closely. This section can come before or after the experience section or it might be placed within a second column, depending on the design you choose.
An optional second skills section. Also written out in a bulleted list, this section can be labeled to match the type of skills you include. The title and the abilities listed in this section should be different from the first section, as shown in the image above, but you still have to make sure they match the position. Don’t forget to mention how you used each skill and how it made an impact by using data metrics, sales figures or other analytics. This section can come before or after the experience section or it might be in a second column, depending on the design you choose.
Your work experience. This key section should be a reverse-chronological list that includes company names, dates you worked by month, and a bulleted list of measurable achievements with the results of each. Frame your work experience to support your skills. This section can come before or after the skills section(s) or it might be in a second column, depending on the design you choose.
Your education. This part should include the schools you attended, the degrees you earned or the chosen courses of study, in addition to any honors or awards received. Specific dates are no longer required.
Additional information. If you have any extra relevant information, such as volunteer time relevant to the job, additional school certifications or possible community leadership activities, work-related awards, and languages or licenses that embody the needs of the job, then add a section at the bottom of the page to show this.
When to use the combination resume format
3 Tips for writing a combination resume
Keep the following thoughts in mind when creating a combination resume:
- Prioritize skills you have that the job description lists as “required.”
- Showcase your most important achievements higher on your resume so employers can see your professional value at a glance. After all, you only have six seconds to woo the reader, according to career experts.
- Don’t get too creative with layout. It should be clean and simple to follow.
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Advantages of a combination resume
The combination resume format provides several advantages for experienced job seekers and those looking to change industries or roles. We think these five are the most fundamental:
- It shows a detailed work history to potential employers who prefer a more traditional format while keeping key skills front and center.
- It provides structural flexibility, which helps when customizing your resume for different jobs. And, you should definitely customize your resume for every job you apply to.
- It can help applicants stand out by putting qualifications upfront so employers can easily see the direct business impact of hiring them.
- It appeals to employers hiring for senior-level positions with highly-specialized skills because it confirms a candidate has the necessary work experience.
- It appeals to traditional hiring managers because it includes a reverse-chronological employment history, as well as to nontraditional hiring managers because of its versatility.
Disadvantages of a Combination Resume
While the combination resume format is beneficial to some job seekers, it does have some notable drawbacks:
- It can be a bit tricky to write. This is why you have to be very clear about exactly how your skills and experience are relevant for the position. Use examples of achievements and be specific! Numbers give weight to your experience. For example, “Provided exceptional in-home nursing care for 20 senior citizens and homebound adults, which led me to win “Home Health Aide of the Year.”
- It’s easy to make this resume longer than the recommended length of 1-2 pages based on your employment history. To ensure your resume remains concise, use a smaller font size (but no smaller than 10 points), highlight only one or two of your most significant accomplishments per job, cut your experience down if you have many jobs or more than 10 years of experience, and keep the skills lists to only five bullet points.
- It can be confusing if it’s not well-organized. Use different headings if you use more than one skills section, keep them concise, and list them one after the other. This makes a combination resume easier to scan, especially if you use a two-column design.
What is a combination resume format?A combination resume focuses on your skills and work accomplishments. While this format typically includes an education section, you should pay particular attention to creating robust skills and work experience sections, with your employment history and summary explaining how you’ve used your skills to make a positive impact.
What makes a combination resume different from other formats?It’s a matter of emphasis. While the combination format spotlights both your skills and job history, a chronological resume focuses on work experience, and a functional format concentrates on relevant skills.
Who should use a combination resume?The combination resume format is well-suited for mid-career job candidates who might not have senior-level experience, but it can showcase career progression as well as important skills. If you’re changing careers or industries, a combination resume is also a good choice because it highlights how your skills and professional accomplishments are interlinked.
How do you write a combination resume?When using this format, focus on your skills and work experience sections. Read through the job description, pick out key skills that fit your own abilities, and add them to your own resume, specifically when describing your work accomplishments. You can also list transferable skills from previous jobs as well as activities (such as volunteer work) that are relevant to the position you want.
What kind of resume do employers prefer?Whether your resume follows a combination, chronological or functional format, employers appreciate those that present the candidate’s employment history and abilities clearly and accurately. Your resume should also indicate that you’ve taken the time to read up on the employer and the job, and have matched your talents to what the job requires. Use a well-designed template to present your information, and make use of our writing tips to create a well-written, compelling resume.
Should I repeat my listed skills in the work history section when using the combination resume format?We strongly recommend against repeating your listed skills in your work history in a combination resume because it’s never a good idea to be redundant. Instead, show what you’ve achieved by using your skills in your previous positions through strong examples in your experience section.
Is it a good idea to include transferable skills in this resume format?According to our certified resume writers, including transferable skills in the combination resume format improves your chances of getting an interview significantly, especially if you are changing industries or jobs. Just make sure you list the required transferable skills you know you have and then provide examples of how you’ve used them. To make them stand out, also create a skills section called “transferable skills” in addition to a section called “technical skills” or “leadership skills,” depending on the job and your goals.
Is the combination resume format the most versatile one?Yes! The combination resume format is the most versatile. Because the structure is relatively flexible, you have more options for customization with this format than with the chronological or the functional formats. It’s also as suitable for senior-level professionals who have had steady career tracks as it is for mid-level workers who want to change industries or professions.
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