Sometimes, your typical reverse-chronological resume isn’t
the best choice.
You may have a six-month
gap in your employment history, or your current job doesn’t reflect the skills
needed for the new position you’re after. Even if you’ve got nothing to hide in
your employment history, there are many reasons you may not want to direct a
recruiter to that portion of your resume.
When that happens, a combination or hybrid resume is the
best format for you.
But what is a combination resume exactly? A hybrid or
combination resume combines the best characteristics of a chronological and
functional resume. Instead of presenting your work history towards the top or on the first page, a combination resume format replaces
this with other categories such as a list of skills or achievements. This way,
a recruiter isn’t immediately turned off by gaps in your employment history or
by the fact that your last or current job title isn’t exactly what they’re looking
for because they’ll see your most relevant achievement and skills first, which
will hopefully entice them enough to keep reading.
Use a Professional Resume Template
Before we get started on how to make a combination resume, let’s quickly examine resume templates. One way to make sure your combination resume makes a great first impression is to use a professional template. We’ve got a number of great professional resume templates on GraphicRiver. Or, you can get unlimited access to a variety of professional resume templates with an Envato Elements subscription. The resumes from both of these sources have numerous features to build a chronological resume, functional resume, or combination resume.
Many of these templates also have additional creative options for displaying your portfolio, include a well-branded cover letter template, and more. All these features can help you stand out visually and land that job you’re applying for!
Here’s a sample of a professional resume template in combination resume format that’s available on Envato Elements:
Now let’s take a closer look at combination format resumes.
When Should You Use a Combination Resume Format?
Unfortunately, this format only works for a few people. Use
it only if you meet at least one of the characteristics below:
- Executive or mid-career
professional with a long work history or concurrent jobs
- Applicants with a specialized
skill set or a good track record of accomplishments for several skills
Here’s what several HR professionals have to say about when to use a combination resume:
“This could also work if you want to return to a field you left because you
wanted to explore new opportunities, but then you ultimately decided that you
prefer the original industry you were in to
begin with” — Aerielle
Ludwig, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)
been in the same company for more than 15 years, such as people in the military
with 30+ years of service. This format highlights your achievements over the
years at the functional part of the resume, before showing the chronological
order of your promotions at the bottom of your resume” —Dawn Boyer, Resume Writer and Career Consultant at D Boyer Consulting.
have multiple temporary or short-term jobs but you don’t want the recruiter to
notice your unstable work history without first seeing what you can offer”— Hallie Crawford,
Certified Career Coach.
How to Choose Between a Combination Format & a Reverse Chronological Format Resume
Below are two methods to help you decide between a hybrid
resume and a chronological resume:
1. Job Title Similarity
current job title the same or at least have a semblance with your target job?
If you’re not confident of their similarity or if you’re doing a slight career
change (same job in a different industry), then a combination resume that shows
a wider scope of your skill set would be
a better option for you.
2. Position Hierarchy
applying for a higher position—one that you’ve never held or never been trained
to do? One glance at a chronological resume will quickly show recruiters that
you don’t have the experience they need
and are therefore a risky candidate compared to applicants who’ve had the job
for a few years. On the other hand, a
combination resume will show leadership and other transferable skills needed for a higher position. This will make
your job application more appealing to the hiring manager.
How to Choose Between a Combination Resume Format & a Functional Resume Format
formats start with your skills and achievement, so the deciding factor here is
your work history. How close is your professional history to the job you want?
Are you making a major career change?
a combination resume if 70% of your existing skills, responsibilities, and
achievements are required for your target job, but use a functional format if
only your soft skills and a few job-specific skills are relevant. Go with a
functional resume if you’re having a hard time justifying why your new employer
would hire someone with your skill set.
Examples of the Best Resume Format to Use When You Switch Jobs
Before and After Jobs
Best Resume Format
Construction project management > IT project management
Real estate agent > Accountant
Nurse RN > Copywriter
Graphic Designer > UI/UX Designer
Sales Manager > Division Sales Manager
Advantages of a Combination Resume Compared to Other Formats
You already know that a reverse-chronological resume focuses
on your career advancement, while a functional resume highlights your skills
regardless of when and how you acquired them. A combination resume gives you
the advantages of both formats without sacrificing your employment history, so
you can still address career changes and other red flags a recruiter might see
while reviewing your application.
1. Main Advantages of Combination Resume Format
- Captures the attention of the
recruiter immediately with a list of your skills and achievements, and then
supports this introduction with a chronological breakdown of how you acquired
- If you’ve been in the same
position or company for a long time, recruiters don’t need to go over every
bullet point in your job history just to see your achievements because a
combination format puts this information right at the top.
flexible format allows you to restructure the layout or sequence of the
resume so you can choose which
information the recruiter sees first.
2. Disadvantages Combination Resume Format
resume format is perfect, so you might be better off picking another format if
the disadvantages below feel like a big deal to you.
- Job hopping and career gaps will
still be noticeable in your employment history.
- Some of your skills, tasks, and
qualifications may be repeated in several sections, so your resume may end up
longer than expected.
What to Look for in a Combination Resume Template Structure
combination resume is comprised of two main parts, the first part is similar to
that of functional resumes wherein your skills and professional achievements
are highlighted first. Then it’s followed by the chronological part that lists
your job history.
A typical outline of a combination resume in
- Name and contact details
- Qualifications summary or
- Achievements organized according
to skills used
- Job history
As mentioned, however, this format is flexible and that’s an
advantage and a disadvantage at the same time. On one hand, recruiters and
hiring managers expect resumes formatted in a certain order, but as the
applicant you’re supposed to lead with
your best-selling points which aren’t
always found in your work history. The key in this situation is to strike a
balance, you can follow the combination format described above or you can
revise it to your advantage but not to the point that it looks confusing. Use a scannable resume template with lots of white space.
Need inspiration? Choose from any of the beautifully-designed resume templates in the article below:
How to Make a Combination Resume (With Examples)
Below is an in-depth explanation of the different resume
sections and how they’re written when you’re using a combination resume format.
1. Name and Contact Information
It’s the same as other resume formats. Just list your name,
contact details, and URLs relevant to
your application such as your LinkedIn profile, website, GitHub profile, and
2. Qualifications Summary or Professional Profile
You can use either of these options since they both
emphasize your skills in slightly different ways. A qualifications summary
includes your most impressive skills, while a professional summary gives a more
holistic view of your skill set, not just where you excelled.
Ludwig adds, “a summary of
qualifications should match and address the needs outlined in the job
announcement, the hiring company’s mission, and the pain points of their
Applicants with specialized skills or technical
certifications sometimes include a list of skills or core competencies just
below their resume introduction. Be careful not to list the same skills again
your professional history section, as that can make your resume unnecessarily longer.
Below is an example of a Senior Healthcare Executive from Jessica Holbrook, President of GreatResumesFast.com:
Here’s an example of a professional profile with the
skills listed under the subheading “Value
Offered” by Michelle Riklan of Riklan Resources.
Here’s a quick guide on how to best include your skills in a resume:
3. Achievements Categorized per
Write the skills mentioned on the job announcement or the
ones you know are most relevant to your target job title, then group those
related to each other. For instance, sales and marketing might be grouped
together, as well as leadership and team management. List the achievements validating
the skills mentioned underneath each group sub-heading.
You don’t need to list all of your skills in this
section—only the ones where you’ve got accomplishments to back them up. If you’ve got other skills that you can’t connect directly to an achievement, list them
in the core competencies section mentioned previously.
Combination resume sample of achievements section for a Senior
By organizing your achievements according to the skills
used, recruiters won’t have to read through every line of your job history to
appreciate your amazing talents.
Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible and format
the keywords in bold to emphasize
them, especially if the bullet points are long.
4. Work History or Professional History
is where you’ll see the chronological part of a combination format resume.
Write your job title, your employer’s name, and the employment duration
followed by a list of your job’s important responsibilities. You can also
include a brief description of the company or the department you work for, in
case your employer is a huge multinational with several divisions.
are different combination resume examples for the work history section.
example for an HR Executive:
In the example below, the combination format is used to show
the applicant’s upward career trajectory and career changes after moving from
one division to another within the same company. Adding a separate section
called “Additional Roles Included”
for jobs held that are no longer relevant allows the candidate to provide a
complete work history, in case the recruiter questions their past employment.
Since the combination resume format is flexible, you can get
creative in how you arrange your work history.
Below is a combination resume example professional history from
Crawford where the applicant’s experience is lumped into different skill sets
or job titles, while the dates shown reflect cumulative dates of how long said
skills were used, instead of the actual employment duration.
Crawford adds, “As you can see,
by following this or a similar structure, you can avoid using the functional
format, which recruiters don’t like. But you can still show your career history
without shining light on all the various start and end dates for each
An applicant’s education isn’t emphasized in this resume format because this is often
used by mid and senior-level
professionals. Even if you’ve got lots of on-the-job experience, your educational
history can be a good source of keywords for employers that use an ATS to
filter applicants based on skills.
You should also include a sub-section for continuing
education to distinguish between your formal education
and the short courses or conferences you attend.
Find the Best Combination Resume Layout that Works Best for You
Don’t limit yourself to the examples and the format described here. The combination resume
format is flexible, so use it to your advantage. Instead of just re-arranging
the sections to see which resume format or template looks most favorable for your application, you
can test your assumptions by sending different versions to hiring companies to
see which one generates the most response. From there, you just have to keep
tweaking the information you emphasize and the resume’s format until you
find one that lands you the most number of interviews.