The hybrid resume, also known as a combination resume, is a strategic resume format that highlights your abilities over your experience: literally! The hybrid resume places a section above your reverse-chronological work history to point out your professional strengths, stand-out career achievements, or summarizes your qualifications and work experience.
While the most popular resume format today is the reverse-chronological resume, there are other resume formats you can use. If your employment history is not the most impressive part of your application, a hybrid resume format might give you just to boost you need to catch a hiring manager’s eye.
We'll discuss the hybrid resume format's advantages over other resume formats, and when you should consider using one.
Resume format options
There are three resume formats common today: the hybrid resume, the reverse-chronological resume, and the functional or skills-based resume. Here are quick descriptions of the alternative resume formats:
The reverse-chronological resume
You should use a reverse-chronological resume if you have a clear, linear work history that aligns with the jobs you are applying for. This is by far the most common resume format. It gets its name from being based on time: starting with your most recent position at the top of the page, and working back 10 to 15 years.
This resume format often excludes a skills section, or relegates it to a few bullet points at the bottom of the resume.
The functional (skills-based) resume
You should use a functional resume when your work history is spotty (or you don't have a job history), but you have several core skills. This resume format focuses on the core functions or skills you can provide a future employer. Instead of organizing your resume by time, you group your experience with specific skills to show your competency.
While your skills are definitely important, it's worth noting that many recruiters and hiring managers view the functional resume format with suspicion. Because this format doesn't require date ranges for your past jobs, it may seem like you're hiding something. Still, it's worth considering if your work experience doesn't fill a page.
If the above descriptions for a reverse-chronological resume format and functional resume format don’t quite fit you, a hybrid resume is probably a good option! It’s best for people with some professional experience, but that experience is either in a different field or otherwise doesn’t translate well to the standard resume format.
💡ZipTip: if you still aren't sure what resume format to use, this guide walks you through the three most popular resume formats for American and Canadian employers in much greater detail.
What is the hybrid resume format?
Essentially, your hybrid resume will include aspects of the other two most common resume formats: the reverse-chronological and functional resumes. Reverse-chronological resumes list your work experience with details about each position in a linear format. In contrast, a functional resume format highlights skills that are relevant to the position rather than listing the descriptions under each position you held.
A hybrid format allows you to list relevant skills at the beginning of the resume (showcases your functional abilities) and then your reverse-chronological work history along with some details. It's easily understood by hiring managers, recruiters, and applicant tracking systems (the ATS--more on this further down in the post).
The big difference is the "highlights of qualifications" section in the top half of your resume. Our team of career experts and former Fortune 500 recruiters recommend adding a highly-targeted section between your skills and your work history. If that section title doesn't work for your career history, consider "Selected Achievements" or "Career Highlights" as alternatives.
Whichever section title you use, be sure not to repeat information already listed in the resume title, resume summary, or your core competencies. Use this section to shine a spotlight on information that otherwise doesn't fit in or stand out on your resume. We'll give some more resume examples in the next section.
What does a hybrid resume look like?
It looks a lot like a traditional resume, as you can see in the image below. We'll delve into the differences below the hybrid resume sample.
Here is a hybrid (combination) resume example
View 200+ more professional resume samples for all industries, along with a guide to writing resumes from our career experts.
When should you use a hybrid resume format?
While all job seekers should include a skills section and keyword-rich resume summary, not all job seekers will benefit from a hybrid resume.
By leading with your best resume highlights and qualifications, you're more likely to pass a recruiter's 6 second resume test. You're also increasing your chances to pass the applicant tracking system (ATS) test by using more keywords from the job description.
Here are three types of job seekers who would benefit most from a hybrid resume:
1. When you're changing careers
A hybrid resume format can be very useful if you're changing careers. It allows you to list your relevant transferable skills at the beginning of your resume rather than listing positions and experiences that have nothing to do with your target position.
In this case, your highlighted qualifications will feature your transferable skills from a previous career path, any new education or training you have to support your current career goals, and other information that supports why you would be the perfect hire. Career changers have to spell out exactly why someone with "irrelevant experience" is applying for the job.
For example, a hybrid resume would be perfect for people targeting a position as a software developer when most of their experience is as a graphic designer. Instead of detailing graphic design projects, the aspiring software developer should put their new coding camp certification here, along with the three software developer tools they got familiar with during that camp. These qualifications are more relevant to the hiring manager than 5 years of graphic design jobs.
At this point, it's important to note that you don't need to include every job you have ever held on a resume. You want to create a resume that lists the positions and details most relevant to your career goal. If there isn't an obvious alignment between your job titles and your new career path, you should focus your work experience details on value, achievements, and skills that will translate best into your future positions. You can even leave off jobs that are old or irrelevant.
Since the hybrid resume has more information about your qualifications in the top section, you don't have to include as much information in your work experience section. Your resume should include only the information that makes you a strong candidate for the new job.
2. When you're a recent graduate or entry-level applicant
The hybrid resume format is also a good choice for someone just entering the workforce, such as new graduates. This resume allows you to focus on skills, school projects, or specific experience that is relevant to the position you're targeting.
For example, a hybrid resume format would be good for new graduates targeting an entry-level accounting position. They may have some professional experience (on-campus jobs, internships, or volunteer work) but it's not likely that it's related to accounting. The candidate can include skills and some experience from an unrelated position that involved skills useful in accounting. The hybrid resume allows entry-level job seekers to explain their experience with Excel, collaboration, problem solving, and other skills employers are looking for.
3. When you're an expert
The hybrid resume is also a great format for someone who is an expert at something. The qualification-first template allows you to list your most relevant and impressive achievements at the top of your resume.
Experts might opt to list "Awards and Honors" as their qualifications, or selected recognition from others in their field. For example:
Selected Career Highlights
Awarded XYZ Company's "Sales Person of the Year" in 2018, 2019, and 2020
Member of [prestigious board or organization]
Author of NYT Best Seller, along with 5 other books on sales and success
Some resume writing services specialize in resumes for executives. Check out our list of the top executive resume services for 2021!
A hybrid resume is a great option for many strategic job seekers who haven't seen success from their traditional resumes. Hybrid resumes (or combination resumes) focus on your qualifications and value while still offering the information hiring managers want to see. If you're writing a resume for a new career path, a first job, or as an expert, the hybrid resume is a great option for you.
If you need help identifying your core qualifications or writing your resume, you can hire one of Zipjob's 100+ professional resume writers. All our writers are trained on ATS-optimized resumes, as well as how to get every client twice as many interviews--guaranteed. Click the image below to see how we could help you!
The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.