When preparing to write a resume, you have the option to use a few resume formats, including chronological, functional and combination. A combination resume emphasizes relevant skills and accomplishments at the top of your resume. It also lists your professional history in “reverse-chronological,” meaning that the most recent experiences come first.
In this article, we discuss what a combination resume is, how to decide if it is the right format for you and how to write one with examples.
What is a combination resume?
A combination resume format emphasizes both skills and accomplishments, and recent work history.
Combination Resume Format
- Name and contact information
- Skills and abilities
- Professional experience
For reference, a combination resume will include elements of the other two commonly used resume formats:
Functional resume format: Lists required, relevant and transferable skills that set you apart from other candidates.
Chronological resume format: Provides recent and relevant work history in reverse-chronological order, listing the most recent work experiences first in the professional history section.
The combination resume format is a good choice if you are a junior or mid-level candidate with important, relevant skills that match the job description. For example, this resume format may be beneficial once you have a few years of work experience after college. Using a combination resume format will highlight skills you’ve acquired as an early career professional, and help connect those skills to your professional experience.
You may want to use a combination resume if:
- You are an early career professional with 1–3 years of job experience
- You are a recent college or high school graduate with minimal work experience
- You are changing careers or industries
- You have worked with only a few employers, but have a consistent work history
- You have no gaps in your work history
If you are a recent college or high school graduate with no professional experience, you should instead consider using a functional resume format. When you’re starting your career, it’s helpful to focus on a strong, extensive list of skills and accomplishments.
If you have professional experience, you should consider a chronological resume format instead. Especially for individuals applying for leadership positions, your most recent professional history and role within those organizations may be more valuable information for potential employers.
How to write a combination resume
While you should tailor your resume to the needs of the roles you’re applying for, a combination resume format typically prioritizes skills before the work history section. Sections in the combination resume format usually follow this order:
1. Name and contact information
Regardless of format, your resume should begin with your name and contact information so employers can easily get in touch. Ensure that you are using recent and accurate information, including your current phone number and email address. Optional information includes listing your mailing address and links to online portfolios, which may be beneficial depending on your industry.
Your resume should include a brief summary that quickly promotes your most relevant skills and experiences. The summary should be short (no more than two lines) and use active language to help hiring managers easily determine whether you are a good fit. Use a resume objective when you are new to the workforce and lack relevant experience. It provides a simple statement of your short- and long-term career goals.
3. Skills and abilities
Following the summary, include your skills section. Before writing your skills section, review the job posting and look for keywords that may help get the employer’s attention and get your resume past automatic filters. These can include skills the employer lists as required or desired.
You should list both hard (technical) skills as well as soft (interpersonal) skills. A combination resume is designed to help potential employers understand how your skills and professional experience relate, so you might consider including skills and abilities you’ve learned from previous employers as they relate to your next position.
4. Professional experience
If you are using a combination resume, your professional experience should help support your skills section.
For example, if you’re currently working in an entry-level position in sales, your skills section might include soft skills like "collaboration akills" and “communication skills", and hard skills like "SalesForce" and "data analytics tools". Your professional experience can elaborate on how these skills were learned and used to help employers get a better idea of your work habits and strengths.
Educational history and experience varies in importance based on your professional experience. Adding this section may help to supplement resumes with little professional experience.
If you are a recent college or high school graduate or have limited professional experience for other reasons, consider including relevant coursework, grade point averages (typically 3.5 GPA or above) and extracurricular activities, such as leadership positions, volunteer opportunities, or club participation.
Combination resume tips
Here are a few tips to consider when creating your combination resume to make it stand out to employers:
Integrate your key skills into your professional history section
While simply listing one- or two-word phrases in your resume skills section is helpful, weaving these into your professional experience section can help employers relate your qualities directly to a professional setting. It can also help them understand how your skills brought value to your last organization.
Prioritize any skills the employer lists as “required” in the job description
If there are certain certifications, trainings or other credentials listed as required in the job description, make these as clear and easy to find as possible.
Include transferable skills if you are changing careers or industries
Transferable skills can be particularly helpful for employers if you are making a career or industry change. These are usually soft skills that are valuable to employers of all types.
Combination resume template
Here is a combination resume sample using the best practices above. You can use this template or other resume samples for inspiration.
Scranton, Pennsylvania • (123) 456-7891 • email@example.com
A strategically-minded and hard-working sales associate with 2 years of experience increasing sales and increasing brand awareness.
Sales and marketing skills include Tableau (intermediate level) • Excel (intermediate level) • SalesForce Administration (entry-level) • Team player • Hardworking • Creative
L&O Financial, Sales Associate
- Utilize SalesForce to help manage client accounts
- Learned and used various data analytics tools, including Excel and Tableau, to provide data insights
- Work collaboratively with other associates and managers to create new marketing strategies
L&O Financial, Intern
June 2016—August 2016
- Trained on industry financial systems
- Assisted sales teams with day-to-day operations
- Learned skills in sales and developing client relationships
- Accepted as full-time Sales Associate following successful internship
Pennsylvania State University
August 2012 – June 2016
B.A., Communications, 3.95 GPA
*Awards include: Magna Cum Laude, President’s Scholarship Award (2014, 2016), Academic Honors (2012-2016)*
*Extracurriculars include: Debate Team Captain (2015), Student Government Treasurer (2013-2014), Habitat for Humanity (2012-2016)*