A resume is only one part of your job-hunting arsenal. But, it’s extremely important because a resume is your first introduction to the company.
It sums up your professional history and should make a compelling argument about why the employer should hire you.
But, summarizing that history isn’t always easy. Which parts should you emphasize on a resume?
And, are there any parts of your history you’d rather not draw attention to?
No matter what your work history looks like, it’s likely going to end up on your resume. The best strategy is to tell the best story possible about your professional life. But, what’s the best resume to do that?
You’re probably familiar with a chronological resume and all it has to offer—along with all its flaws. And, you’ve probably heard of a functional resume, even if you’ve never used one. But, you’ve probably never heard of a hybrid resume. And, more importantly, you may not realize that a hybrid resume can offer you the best of a chronological resume and a functional resume, helping you tell the best professional story you can.
What Is a Hybrid Resume?
A hybrid resume, sometimes called a combination resume, combines the best parts of a chronological resume and a functional resume. This allows you to draw attention to the things you want a recruiter to notice and helps you draw attention away from the things you don’t want to highlight without attempting to hide them.
Just like a functional resume, you highlight your notable and important skills at the top of a hybrid resume. And, just like a chronological resume, you list your work history in date order, listing off a few key duties and accomplishments from each job.
Why Use a Hybrid Resume
While the combination resume is not as common as a chronological resume, it is gaining in popularity. In fact, as Brie Reynolds, Career Development Manager and Coach for Flexjobs, points out, “Hybrid resumes have really become the standard resume in a lot of ways. They combine the best elements of chronological and functional resumes.” And, it’s a format you should consider using for your next resume.
Recruiters Like Them
It’s true that a hybrid resume looks more like a functional resume than a chronological resume in terms of how it’s formatted on the page. But, while recruiters dislike functional resumes, they do seem to like combination resumes.
This may be due, in part, to the fact that while a hybrid resume follows a functional resume approach (highlighting your skills at the top of the resume), it also uses a chronological approach to resume writing (listing job duties under job titles).
A combination resume highlights your skills over your work history. And tying some of your job duties and achievements to a specific job gives meaning and context to how and where you obtained your skills. Because gathering meaning and context is something recruiters can do easily with a chronological resume, it’s something they try to do with every resume. They can’t do it with a functional resume, but they can do it with a hybrid resume.
Machines Like Them
Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are becoming more and more common these days. These programs scan your resume and look for certain keywords. The more keywords you have, the more likely your resume will rank high in the ATS, making it more likely you’ll land an interview.
However, taking a bunch of keywords from the job description and throwing them on your resume isn’t the way to beat the ATS. Most ATSs are programmed to look for keywords in a certain pattern. Specifically, most look for keywords underneath a job title.
That works fine for a chronological resume. But, when you use a functional resume, there are no duties (and, therefore, no keywords), tied to a specific title. But, with a hybrid resume, you’ve got some of the keywords tied to a job title, which improves your chances with the ATS.
Highlights Career Growth
The problem with a functional resume it that it doesn’t necessarily give you a chance to show off your career growth or career progression. When you’re only listing places of employment and job titles without job duties or accomplishments with it, the titles are almost meaningless. You can call yourself the Senior VP of Customer Relations, but what does that mean? Did you answer phones all day in a call center, or did you create customer retention strategies?
Using a combination resume allows you to draw focus to all the skills you’ve learned in all your jobs over time. And it also gives you a way to demonstrate career growth. By listing off a few job duties, you can show that you were gradually given more responsibilities, even if that’s not always reflected in the title.
Smooths over Employment Gaps
One of the biggest drawbacks of using a chronological resume is that it makes employment gaps glaringly obvious. And, there’s no way to downplay that on a chronological resume. The advantage of a functional resume is that it’s easier to downplay a gap in employment history. However, most recruiters know this and immediately think you’re hiding something if you’re using a functional resume.
While there is no way to hide any employment gap, a hybrid resume gives you a chance to show recruiters that your employment gap is not that big of a deal. By first drawing attention to your skills, then demonstrating that you’ve grown and progressed in your career, you may be able to overcome any fears an employer has about your gap.
Good for a Career Pivot
Hybrid resumes are also great for career changers. One of the advantages of a functional resume for career changers is that it gives them a format to highlight their transferable skills when they lack direct experience in their new field.
However, with a functional resume, you can’t show off your career progression. With a hybrid resume, you can show how, over time, you were trusted with more and more responsibility. While that experience may not relate directly to the new field, the soft skills you’ve picked up (and likely some hard ones, too), show that you might be the right hire.
When Not to Use a Combination Resume
While hybrid resumes are gaining in popularity, that doesn’t make them “perfect.” There are several instances where you should consider skipping the hybrid format.
It’s Not Preferred
While recruiters like hybrid resumes, that doesn’t mean they are the preferred format. The problem with a hybrid resume is that its very similar to a functional resume. And, as we’ve said, functional resumes tend to send up red flags for recruiters.
And even though you use parts of a chronological resume, the fact is, you don’t use all of it. When you use a combination resume, you’re pulling out and highlighting your top skills. But, when those tops skills aren’t tied to a specific job, some recruiters may pass on your resume because they want to know the context of where you got every single skill.
Not Best for “Traditional” Job Seekers
Hybrid resumes are a great compromise for people with career gaps and career changers. However, they may not be the best choice for people with a “traditional” work history: steady, upward career growth and a lack of significant employment gaps.
Going with a combination resume just because they’re “in,” may make a recruiter think twice about you, especially when a chronological resume will get the job done.
On a chronological resume, you list each job title and then all of the job duties and accomplishments under each job. On a functional resume, you list your skills and accomplishments in a “skills” header and don’t tie them to a specific job.
When you create a hybrid resume, you’re listing your noteworthy skills at the top of the resume. Then, you’re listing out your job titles and noteworthy duties under each job.
The job duties list on a combination resume is shorter than on a chronological resume. But that doesn’t mean you won’t duplicate yourself. While a skill is different from an accomplishment, which is different from a job duty, it’s easy to mix them all up and end up saying the same thing over and over and over again.
Edit yourself often and carefully. Make sure you aren’t saying “team player” in your skills sections, your professional summary, and under your job duties. Mix up the language and make sure you’re listing unique items in each section.
Formatting a Hybrid Resume
Formatting a hybrid resume is very similar to a chronological resume, but with a few distinct differences.
Like every other resume format, start with your contact information at the top. At the very least, this should be your name, email, and phone number. If you have a LinkedIn profile or online portfolio, include those links. And, if you want to include social media information, this is the section for it.
Some people choose to include a professional headline. This is not the same as an objective (which really isn’t used anymore). A professional headline explains a little about you and the type of work you’re seeking. It’s similar to a LinkedIn headline. So, feel free to use your LinkedIn headline for inspiration, but don’t copy it!
A solid, well-written headline is great for all types of job seekers. For example:
For people looking for work in the same field:
- Senior Accountant at XYZ, experienced with global accounting, financial
- Reporting, Strategic Planning, Cost Analysis, and Budget Analysis
- Product Manager: Cloud Computing and New Products, Strategic Partnerships, SaaS
- Cook with extensive fine dining experience
- Honor roll student with tutoring experience
- Graduating senior with background in customer support
For career changers:
- Experienced editor skilled in web design
- Graphic designer with extensive experience in copywriting
The next section is your professional summary paragraph. It’s similar to the professional summary you might use on any resume and is usually titled “Professional Summary,” or something similar. However, on a hybrid resume, the paragraph tends to be a little longer than on a chronological resume because you are taking some of your job duties and summarizing them here.
Just below the summary paragraph is the key skills section. This can be a separate section with a header of “Key Skills” or “Relevant Skills,” for example. Or they can flow right from the summary paragraph.
On a functional resume, your skills are grouped by category, then described in detail underneath the category. On a hybrid resume, there are no categories. Instead, the skills are listed, usually in order of importance or ability. While there are no rules, try to start with your hard skills, then move on to your soft skills.
Below are some examples of summary paragraphs and key skills sections:
Results-driven operations and sales leader with a consistent history of growing revenue. Expertise in establishing and executing processes, procedures, and polices to increase compliance, productivity, and profitability. Skilled in team building, strategic planning, training, and analytics. Successful 10-plus year working history with remote and distributed teams.
One of the best job-hunting strategies you can use is to tailor your resume for each job. This doesn’t mean rewriting your resume every time you apply to a new job. It does, however, mean reading over the job description to make sure you are speaking the employer’s language.
For example, if a job listing wants someone with “client service” skills, make sure you don’t say you’ve got excellent “customer service” skills. While those might be the same thing to you, they might not be the same thing to the employer. And, if the ATS is programmed to look for “client service,” it won’t see “customer service” and may rank your resume lower.
Next up is your work history. You list it just like you would on a chronological resume. Start with your current or most recent job and work your way backward about 10 to 15 years (or to the very beginning, depending on your work history).
And, just like a chronological resume, you list relevant duties and accomplishments under each job title. However, on a hybrid resume, you don’t list every skill or duty. Hopefully, you covered most of those in the skills section.
For this section, pick out a few relevant duties and skills you’d like to highlight in relation to that job. Then, explain what you did and how it benefited the employer. For example, instead of saying, “addressed customer complaints,” consider saying, “proactively addressed customer concerns, resulting in a 92% retention rate.”
If approaching your job duties in this method seems daunting, Reynolds offers some advice. She tells people to follow the STAR method, and it works like this: “Don’t stop writing after you explain the tasks you performed. Keep writing to include the results of your work. Why was it important to do that task? What was the result? What happened or didn’t happen because of it? Was money or time saved? What was different and better as a result of it?”
List any education you have in this section, just like you would on any other resume. Mention the name of the school, the dates you attended, and any degree you received. Also, if you have any specialized training, this is the section to mention it in.
Hybrid Resume Example
Curious what this looks like? Here’s an example combination resume.
Perfecting Your Combination Resume
While there still isn’t a “perfect” resume format, the hybrid resume lets you call attention to your outstanding skills, without diminishing or hiding your work history. As more and more job seekers discover the benefits of a combination resume, it’s bound to become the “new standard.”
FlexJobs offers some great benefits to members, once of which is our resume review service. With a resume review, a FlexJobs career coach will take your existing resume document and renovate it to create a more effective document you’ll be proud to send to employers. Whether you end up with a hybrid resume or not, you’ll be sure to have a stand-out document to land your next interview!
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
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