Chronological vs. Combination Resume

Resume on a desk

Choosing a resume format is the first step towards the often-stressful process of putting a resume together.  Like the outline to a successful essay, the resume is the outline to your working life.  There are a lot of different resume styles out there, but in general the most effective styles are the Chronological and the Combination Resume.




This style of resume outlines your work experience in reverse-chronological order. Beginning with your most recent position, the chronological resume format then summarizes your career highlights and key skills followed by a complete outline of your work experience.  Most resume services recommend the chronological resume it provides key information recruiters expect to see in a logical sequence, making it the most effective. It is by far the most popular type of resume.




-  Industry standard-this is the most used resume, so employers know how to quickly find the salient information they need.

-  Easy to read, this format is straight-forward. Beyond descriptions of different job duties, there shouldn’t be a need for strenuous interpretation.

-  Provides contextual examples of your work experience

-  Illustrates when you have a continuous work history, with no big gaps between jobs.

-  Clearly highlights when you have years of knowledge within in one profession, whether in one or two main companies or many successful freelance positions throughout an industry




- It very difficult to create a substantial chronological resume if you have little to no work experience

- This type of resume can highlight gaps in your employment history.




The combination resume, or hybrid resume as it is also called, is particularly beneficial to emphasize your most prominent skills, even if you have little experience or are missing chunks of time between jobs.  This resume will begin with those functional and related skills, followed by the reverse chronological job history.




- Emphasizes skillset over work experience

- Highlights profession-related internships and volunteer work

- Includes chronological aspect, but de-emphasizes it if you are new to the workforce or are changing professions




- Not the industry standard.  Most recruiters prefer the simplicity of the chronological resume.  Using this type of resume may be seen as “burying the lead”

- Difficult to create for applicants with little or no work experience

- Content can overlap if similar skills apply to different positions.

- Combination resumes can be a lot longer that chronological ones, which can be a slog for hiring personnel to get through.  It may seem like an old-fashioned concept but keeping a resume succinct is always better than including too much.