How and Why to Utilize a Combination Resume

Author: Stav Ziv
Source: The Muse

Your resume is one of the most important things a potential employer uses to determine whether you’ll move forward to the next phase of the hiring process. That’s a lot of weight on one document that should almost always be a single page long. So you want to be certain your resume makes it abundantly clear why you’d be a fantastic pick for the job.

But what if listing out your work history doesn’t really tell the right story about you as a candidate, or any coherent story at all? You’re not doomed. Maybe you just need to consider using a combination resume to ensure that you stand out—and get through that first hoop to interview for the role.

What Exactly Is a Combination Resume (or Hybrid Resume)?

You can’t really understand what a combination resume is without first being familiar with the two other resume formats it melds together.

You’re probably familiar with the chronological resume—sometimes referred to more accurately as a reverse chronological resume—because it’s the one job seekers use (and the one recruiters see) most often. Your professional experience is the star of this type of resume, which lists your roles from the most recent going back in time with details below each entry and perhaps a brief skills section toward the bottom of the page.

The functional resume, also known as a skills-based resume, takes a different approach. Here, the meatiest part of the document is a detailed summary of your areas of expertise, laying out your key skills relevant to the role with supporting evidence. You might still list your professional experience, but briefly and less prominently, likely putting it lower down on the page and including for each job only your title, the company name, its location, and the dates.

A combination resume, also referred to as a hybrid resume, does exactly what its name suggests, finding a middle ground by combining aspects of both the chronological and functional resumes. It includes a section focused on your relevant skills near the top of the page followed by a section that runs through your relevant work history in some detail. In this case, your skills and work history are billed as co-stars with relatively equal footing.

“It gives you a chance to show chronology and evolution, but also a chance to pinpoint skills you want to point out,” says Muse career coach Neely Raffellini, founder of the 9 to 5 Project. Look, it says, I can do this job, and here’s why.

Who Should Use a Combination Resume?

A combination resume “allows the recruiter, like me, to pay very close attention to skill sets first. What do they think they’re really good at?” says recruiter Steven Davis, a Muse career coach. And, more specifically, how do the ways in which they excel make them a great choice for this particular role?

So this format might be a good choice for anyone who feels a chronological list of their past jobs doesn’t immediately highlight those abilities or tell the right story in a straightforward way, such as:

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