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When to Use a Combination Resume
You should use the combination resume format if:
You have at least one to three years of experience.
You have a long employment history but have not worked for many different employers.
You have over 15 years of experience and want to emphasize your skills along with your experience.
You are seeking a senior-level job and want to highlight significant achievements.
You should NOT use the combination resume format if:
You have gaps in your employment history that are more than six months long and less than five years old, according to a study by two Swedish economists. In that case, a functional resume is a better option.
You are a recent high school or college graduate with no work experience.
You have worked for more than one company for less than two years. As this well-researched article on job-hopping from CNBC explains, it still raises red flags for employers even if it is on the rise.
You lack the relevant skills for the job.
Advantages of the Combination Resume Format
One of the best features of a combination resume format is that it puts candidates’ top skills upfront. That can both grab employers’ attention and provide the keywords that an applicant tracking systems (ATS) — software that scans resumes for relevancy — look for. This format allows applicants not only to show off their practical skills, but it also gives them enough leeway to highlight their soft skills, which 92% of employment professionals and hiring managers agree are increasingly relevant, according to a recent LinkedIn careers report.
Vincent Norato, Facilities Maintenance - Classic Resume Template
Cathy Irving, Marketing Associate - Classic Resume Template
Other advantages of the combination resume format include the following:
It shows a detailed work history to potential employers who prefer a more traditional format.
It provides structural flexibility, which helps when customizing your resume.
It allows you to separate your employment history into two sections, “Relevant Experience” and “Additional Professional Experience,” which is helpful if you have experience in two very different types of work. “Use of strategic headlines is essential to draw focus,” Melnik also notes.
It can be longer than other resume formats; two pages works here (but nothing longer than that!).
It can help you stand out by putting your qualifications upfront, underlining your direct business impact for employers.
Disadvantages of the Combination Resume Format
The combination resume format allows for some creativity, but it can be a bit tricky to write. This format shouldn’t be just a list of skills and work history; it is meant to tie all the pieces of your professional journey together in a way that makes sense for a specific position. With your skills placed front-and-center in this particular format, you have to make it very clear how they are relevant for the position.
What are the other disadvantages of the combination resume format?
It can be repetitive if you don’t have enough skills to include in your summary and skills sections.
It can highlight a lack of quantifiable achievements, awards and professional honors if you don’t have any.
It can inadvertently highlight an inconsistent career if you have gaps in employment.
What to Include on a Resume When Using the Combination Format
A chronological resume typically contains the following elements, which need to be organized to emphasize your skills and achievements as well as your chronological work history and education.
Key contact basics: Your name, address, telephone number and email address.
A professional summary or an objective statement. Melnik suggests using keywords related to the position for the headline of this section. For example, if a job description for a receptionist includes “First point of contact for all guests, ensuring visitors are comfortable. Must be highly organized and able to work collaboratively,” then a title for your summary or objective might be: “Highly Organized and Personable Receptionist with Five-Star Guest Satisfaction Rating.”
Skills: This section comes before your work history in this format. It should include a bulleted list of your top technical and soft skills that are most relevant to the job.
Work history: Use reverse chronological order and frame it so it supports the skills you emphasized in the skills section of your resume. Highlight measurable achievements rather than responsibilities.
Education or training: School attended and degree earned or course of study, and honors or awards received.
Additional information: Add anything relevant to the job or which speaks to your character, such as certifications or volunteer work.
6 Tips for Using the Combination Resume Format
Tailor your combination resume to show how your skills and work experience tie together, but be careful not to be repetitive. Weave your key skills for the position into your job history section. By doing so, employers can quickly make the direct connection between your experience and skills.
In your skills section, prioritize skills you have that the job description lists as “required.
Include transferable skills if you’re changing careers or industries. Transferable skills are usually soft skills, such as adaptability, leadership or organization, which are valuable to employers of all types. They are particularly helpful if you are making a career change. You have to be crystal-clear about how they tie into the position. However, avoid overused or vague words or phrases, such as “team player.” That skill is not unique because anyone can claim to be a team player.
Add relevant certifications, training and other qualifications listed as “required in the job description. Use bullet point formatting so they are clear and easy to find.
Showcase your most important achievements higher on the resume page so hiring managers can see your professional value at a glance. According to career site The Ladders, you only get six seconds to woo them.
Don’t get too creative; your layout should be clean and simple to follow.
Combination Resume FAQ
What is a combination resume format?A combination resume devotes its focus to 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 can showcase career progression as well as important skills. If you’re changing careers or industries, a combination resume is also a good choice, as 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. Be sure to also use these keywords 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 will appreciate those that clearly and accurately present the candidate’s employment history and abilities. 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.
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