Combination Resumes: How (and When) to Use Them + Examples

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January 2, 2024
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min read

3 key takeaways

  • A clear understanding of this resume format and how it differs from other resume types
  • What scenarios a combination resume is most beneficial in (and how it can improve your job application)
  • Tips and guidance for creating your combination resume with Teal's AI Resume Builder

When you're job searching, you need to present your skills and experiences in a way that stands out to potential employers. 

For many, especially those with employment gaps or diverse professional backgrounds, the solution is learning how to use a combination resume.

This unique resume format blends the best of chronological and functional resumes, offering a versatile approach to showcasing your career journey.

Combination resumes are especially useful for those looking to transition between industries, re-enter the workforce, or highlight a broad skill set. And with the right combination resume templates or examples, you can effectively bridge the gap between your past experiences and future ambitions.

What is a combination resume?

A combination resume incorporates elements of both functional resumes and reverse-chronological resumes. It allows you to showcase your relevant skills and your work history in a balanced way. 

This format typically starts with a clear professional summary, then highlights your hard skills, followed by a reverse-chronological listing of your work experience.

Combination resumes are particularly useful if you have diverse skills or varied work experiences and want to showcase these elements effectively. It's ideal for those making a career change, re-entering the workforce, or who have gaps in their employment history. 

By emphasizing your skills upfront, you can draw attention to what you can do rather than when you did it. For job seekers looking to emphasize both their skills and experience, the combination resume template is an excellent choice.

How does a combination resume compare with other formats

While the chronological resume focuses primarily on work history and the functional resume emphasizes skills, the combination resume strikes a balance between the two. This hybrid resume approach offers the flexibility to highlight the aspects of your professional profile that are most relevant to the job title you're applying for.

That’s what makes it a strong option compared to other resume formats

It's important to remember that a combination resume still maintains a chronological order in its work history section. It's not just about listing skills but also about demonstrating how these skills have been applied throughout your career.

For recent graduates, this format can highlight educational experiences, while for those pivoting careers, it can focus on relevant projects or volunteer work that aligns with the new role.

How to format a combination resume

A combination resume, as its name implies, combines elements of both chronological and functional resumes. This format allows you to highlight your most relevant skills and experiences while providing a clear timeline of your work history.

Key sections of a combination resume

  1. Header: This includes your name, contact information, and, optionally, links to your professional online presence (like LinkedIn).
  2. Professional Summary: A brief, impactful section encapsulating your career highlights and key skills.
  3. "Skills" section: A list or bullet points showcasing your most relevant skills. Remember, this section should be tailored to the specific job you're applying for.
  4. Professional experience: Focus on accomplishments, impact, and how you used your skills for each role rather than just duties. Keep in mind every job should be relevant to the role you're applying for.
  5. Education: Your educational background, often listed in reverse chronological order.
  6. Additional sections: Depending on your experience, this can include certifications, awards, volunteer work, or personal projects.

The beauty of a combination resume lies in its flexibility. 

Typically, after the header and professional summary, the skills summary comes next, immediately showcasing your most relevant abilities. The professional experience follows, providing context and proof of your skills. 

Education and additional sections come at the end, supporting the overall narrative of your resume.

That said, there’s a slight difference in format depending on the context. 

Combination resumes for recent graduates

The combination resume format particularly benefits recent graduates lacking extensive work experience.

Instead, they can substitute their educational experience, including relevant projects and courses, in a prominent position.

This approach allows them to highlight their potential and the skills they've acquired through their education, which are relevant to the job they're applying for. The format would still maintain a reverse chronological order, ensuring it is easy to read and professionally structured.

Combination resumes for a career pivot 

For individuals making a career pivot, the combination resume format provided above allows them to emphasize transferable skills and relevant projects or volunteer work. These elements can replace or complement the traditional work experience section. 

This approach helps in showcasing how their skills and experiences, even from different fields, are applicable to the new role they are targeting. Again, maintaining a chronological format ensures clarity and structure, which is essential for any professional resume.

In both cases—for recent graduates and career changers—a combination resume serves its purpose well, balancing the skills and experiences relevant to the new role while maintaining a clear, chronological format.

How to write a combination resume

Here’s a detailed guide to writing each section of your combination resume.

1. Header

As the first impression, your header should clearly display your name, contact information, and any professional links like LinkedIn. 

Make sure it’s easily visible at the top of your resume. A professional-looking header sets the tone for the rest of the document.

The header of a combination resume
Start your combination resume with a professional header.

2. Professional summary

This is where you craft your elevator pitch. The goal is to summarize your career journey and highlight skills that transfer well to the new role. 

Make it engaging, concise, and focused on why you’re a great fit for this career shift.

Here’s an example of a professional summary for Sarah, a junior marketer looking to enter a mid-level role:

Dynamic junior marketer with 3+ years of experience specializing in digital campaigns, SEO, and social media strategies. Proven ability to boost web traffic and conversion rates through innovative and data-driven approaches. Seeking to leverage creative problem-solving and market analysis skills in a challenging mid-level marketing role.

Pro-tip: Try Teal's Resume Summary Generator to write tailored, position-specific summaries in a matter of seconds.

3. Skills summary

List hard skills like tools or programs that are directly relevant to your new career.

In a combination resume, this part immediately showcases your most relevant capabilities and will ideally be a balance of hard and soft skills relevant to the job description. 

4. Professional experience

Start with your most relevant job roles, even if they aren't in the new career field. Focus on achievements and demonstrate how you used transferable skills to have an impact.

If you’re feeling stuck on how to write your professional experiences, use the Problem-Action-Result (PAR) method to articulate your past contributions.

You can also rely on Teal’s built-in AI to help you draft your resume’s content: 

Just be sure to manually check that the information is accurate when you review your resume. 

5. Education

Include all relevant degrees, certifications, and coursework. 

If you’re a recent graduate or have less professional experience in the new field, this section would be used in place of “Professional Experience.” It can also be expanded to showcase academic achievements, projects, or relevant courses that align with your new career path.

6. Additional sections

This is your space to include anything else that strengthens your application. Consider adding sections for volunteer work, projects, languages, or other certifications. Tailor this part of the resume to showcase experiences and achievements that further demonstrate your suitability for the career change.

Remember, the key to a successful combination resume for a career change lies in how well you customize these sections to showcase your transition into a new career effectively. 

Writing a combination resume with Teal

If you’re just getting started, crafting the perfect combination resume can feel overwhelming, especially when balancing so many elements of your professional journey. 

But Teal’s Drag-and-Drop Editor transforms this challenge into a seamless and intuitive process. You can effortlessly rearrange sections to suit your unique story, ensuring that your skills, experience, and accomplishments are presented in the most impactful way. 

Whether you're a career changer, a seasoned professional with diverse experiences, or someone bridging employment gaps, Teal allows you to create a resume that highlights your strongest assets. Then, you can modify your resume layout to your liking. 

Plus, Teal recognizes the importance of a resume that can be scanned by applicant tracking systems (ATS). 

Teal helps you craft resumes and cover letters that incorporate keywords directly from job descriptions. You can write them from scratch, use the Achievement Assistant, or generate them with the help of Teal’s built-in AI. 

From there, you can polish everything to ensure your combination resume is as strong as it is genuine. 

Tips for writing compelling resume content

An impactful combination resume not only showcases your qualifications but also tells a compelling story of your professional journey. With the right approach, your resume can capture the essence of your career and present you as an ideal candidate for the job. 

Here are some essential tips to help you create content that stands out, aligns with the job requirements, and effectively communicates your value.

1. Start with action verbs: Begin each bullet point in your experience section with dynamic action verbs. 

For instance, instead of saying, "Responsible for managing a team," say, "Led a team of 10 professionals to surpass quarterly sales targets by 13%."

2. Quantify achievements: Whenever possible, include concrete numbers and metrics to quantify the work you’ve done. 

For example, rather than saying "Improved sales," specify with, "Increased sales by 25% over six months through strategic marketing campaigns."

3. Tailor content to the job: Align your resume's content with the job description by incorporating relevant keywords.

 If the job listing emphasizes "project management" and "team leadership," ensure these terms are reflected in your resume, like "Spearheaded a project team to deliver on-time solutions in a fast-paced tech environment."

4. Write clearly and concisely: Avoid industry jargon and complex sentences. 

For example, instead of saying, "Utilized cutting-edge methodologies to engender an increase in consumer engagement," you could say, "Applied innovative strategies to boost customer engagement by 30%."

At the end of the day, the key to an effective combination resume is to present a clear, engaging narrative of your career that aligns with the job you're applying for. 

Writing a combination resume for career change

Changing careers can be challenging. You’ve already climbed the ladder in one field, and now you’re starting all over at the bottom wrung. 

Plus, you need to quickly and concisely explain the transition to hiring managers so they don’t assume you’re a flight risk. 

Here are a few tips for writing a combination resume specifically for a career change. 

1. Highlight transferable skills

When transitioning to a new career field, it's essential to showcase skills from your previous roles that are relevant to your new path. Focus on transferable skills that can be applied in various contexts. 

For instance, if you’re moving from a teaching role to a corporate training position, skills like public speaking, curriculum development, and audience engagement are highly relevant. 

List these skills in a dedicated section and use specific examples in your work history to demonstrate how you've applied them effectively. 

2. Emphasize relevant experience

Your past roles may have more in common with your new field than you think. Scrutinize your work history to identify projects, tasks, or responsibilities that have a direct correlation with the role you’re targeting.

For each job you list, focus on aspects that align with your new career. For example, if you’re moving into project management, highlight your experience coordinating tasks, managing teams, or overseeing project timelines.

Even roles in different industries can provide relevant experience, such as managing a project or leading a team.

3. Use the professional summary wisely

Your professional summary is the first thing employers will read, so it's your chance to make a strong impression. This is where you can express your career change intention and why you are a suitable candidate. 

Write a compelling summary that combines your passion for the new field with your proven skills. 

For example, “Passionate about transitioning into digital marketing, leveraging extensive experience in content creation and audience engagement gained from a successful journalism career.”

4. Include your education and continued learning efforts

Highlighting your education and any ongoing learning efforts is crucial, especially if they are relevant to your new career path. This shows employers your commitment to the field. 

List any recent courses, workshops, or certifications at the top of your education section. For instance, if you’re moving into IT, including certifications like CompTIA or Cisco CCNA can be highly beneficial.

5. Include projects or volunteer work

Non-professional experiences can be just as valuable as paid roles, particularly when they're relevant to the field you're entering. 

Include any freelance projects, internships, or volunteer work that’s related to your new career. 

For example, if you’re aiming for a career in graphic design, include freelance design projects or volunteer work where you created promotional materials for events. Detail these experiences just like you would a job, focusing on what you achieved and learned.

Using Teal’s AI Resume Builder

Teal’s AI Resume Builder simplifies the process of writing a combination resume. It provides guidance and suggestions for each section, ensuring your content is optimized and impactful. With Teal, you can:

  • Use AI-driven suggestions to enhance your professional summary and skills summary.
  • Tailor your resume to each job application, with Teal highlighting the skills and experiences most relevant to the role.
  • Format your resume with ease, thanks to Teal’s user-friendly interface.

Writing a combination resume with Teal is not only easier but also more effective.

Combination resume examples

A good combination resume example can be a great reference to understand how to create your own resume more efficiently. Here are a few examples you can learn from.

Frontend Developer

This combination resume example is perfect for a junior-level employee looking to transition into a new role. The relevant skills are placed after the professional summary, followed by her work experience. 

A combination resume for a frontend developer
A combination resume can help highlight skills for junior-level roles.

However, because her professional experience is limited, this example provides more information about internships and volunteer projects.

Marketing Manager

Here we have Max, a marketing manager with a more extensive work history. The skills section is still prioritized, but his working history takes on a reverse chronological format. 

A combination resume for a marketing manager
Prioritize your skills to showcase what you bring to the table.

Crafting your combination resume 

Navigating the creation of a combination resume isn't just about assembling parts of your professional history; it's about strategically highlighting your diverse skills and experiences to capture the heart of your career journey. 

A combination resume is your chance to paint a compelling picture of your professional landscape—from your multifaceted skills to the chronological narrative of your work history. It elegantly bridges the gap between showcasing a rich skill set and a robust employment history. 

Whether you're navigating employment gaps, embarking on a career change, or a recent graduate, this format adapts to your unique story, ensuring that your application resonates with potential employers.

Teal’s Drag-and-Drop Editor simplifies this process, allowing you to effortlessly blend sections, customize layouts, and build the combination resume that best represents you. 

I you're ready to elevate your job application, bring your unique professional story to life with Teal. Sign up today, explore the power of the combination resume with Teal’s innovative tools, and step into your next career chapter with confidence. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary advantage of using a combination resume over other resume formats?

The primary advantage of a combination resume is its ability to highlight both your relevant skills and your work experience simultaneously. This format is particularly beneficial for individuals with a diverse skill set or those transitioning to a new industry, as it allows them to showcase their transferable skills and relevant experiences in a way that is easily digestible for hiring managers.

How can I decide if a combination resume is the right choice for my job application?

A combination resume is ideal if you have a substantial amount of relevant skills and experience that you want to highlight, or if you are changing careers and need to emphasize transferable skills. It's also useful if you have gaps in your employment history or are re-entering the job market after a break. Consider your personal career trajectory and the job requirements to determine if this format will best showcase your qualifications.

Can a combination resume be used for entry-level positions, or is it only suitable for experienced professionals?

While a combination resume is often used by experienced professionals, it can also be beneficial for entry-level candidates, especially those who have gained relevant skills through internships, volunteer work, or educational projects. This format allows entry-level applicants to demonstrate how their non-work experiences have prepared them for the job, making it a versatile choice for individuals at various stages of their career.

Nathan Thompson

Nathan is a professional content marketer who's been lucky enough to write for some of the best SaaS brands on the planet, including Twilio, Trello, OptinMonster, TrustPulse, and more. When he's not obsessing over performance metrics, Nathan spends most of his time wrestling around with his kids.

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