What Are Hybrid Skills? (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 11, 2020
Skills Based Articles

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In the past, jobs that were strictly technical in nature – such as computer programming or mechanical engineering – only required job candidates to have a specific and narrow set of technical skills.

Conversely, more “people-oriented” professionals – such as receptionists or salespeople – were traditionally only expected to arrive on the job with a specialized set of interpersonal skills, also commonly known as “people skills” or “soft skills.”

Today, however, that paradigm is shifting.

Over the past few years, the job market in the United States has experienced a trend towards greater and greater degrees of hybridization. In other words, technical jobs are now requiring job candidates to possess a wider variety of soft skills, and people-oriented jobs are now requiring job candidates to possess a wider variety of technical skills (also known as “hard skills”).

In fact, a recent study from Burning Glass demonstrated that fully one in four jobs in the US today now requires a hybrid skill set.

This article will outline everything that you need to know about hybrid skills and how they can help you to land a new job.

What are Hybrid Skills?

A candidate possesses “hybrid skills” if they can list a combination of soft skills and hard skills on a resume. The specific definition of hybrid skills will vary from employer to employer, depending on the specific needs of the company, department, and position that a candidate is applying to. In some cases, a hiring manager might prefer a candidate whose resume predominantly includes technical skills with a light sprinkling of soft skills. In other cases, the opposite might be true. Or, the hiring manager might be looking for an even balance of both types of skills.

The best way to gain an idea of the ratio of hard skills to soft skills that you should include on a given job application is to conduct your own research. Study the fine print of the job posting and carefully analyze the website of the company that you’re applying to.

In this way, you’ll be able to get a clearer sense of the sorts of duties that you’ll be taking on, the skills that you’ll be required to demonstrate, and the values that are valued within that particular workplace culture.

How Hybrid Skills Are Impacting Where You Work

Take the role of elementary school teacher, for example. Ten years ago, it would probably be sufficient for a job candidate to apply for a role as a school teacher if she only possessed strong communication and conflict resolution skills.

But now that technology has come to play such a central role within almost every industry (including education), boasting strong soft skills on a resume is unlikely to be enough to land the position.

More and more these days, school administrators require (or at least prefer) their teachers to possess certain technical aptitudes, such as the ability to navigate the Microsoft Office suite or contribute to an organization’s website (this is especially true now that the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing millions of schools to transition to online learning).

To cut a long story short: The hybridization of American jobs is the new norm, and it’s essential for modern job candidates to be able to include hybrid skills in a resume. The tricky part is understanding how to include an optimally balanced set of hybrid skills in one’s resume. But it’s much easier than you might think!

What are Some Examples of Hybridized Jobs?

We’ve already looked at the case of elementary school teachers above, but there are countless other examples of modern hybrid jobs.

Here are a few notable ones:

  • Pharmacists must have a thorough understanding of medicine and physiology, but they’re also usually required to possess strong interpersonal and customer service skills.

  • Business and political journalists must have a comprehensive grasp of the field that they are covering, but it’s also essential for these professionals to be able to communicate effectively and comfortably with their interview subjects.

  • Lawyers must obviously be well-versed in the legal field, but the most successful lawyers are also experts in keeping clients calm and emotionally collected throughout the course of (sometimes messy) legal proceedings.

  • Project managers need to be able to multitask and handle a wide range of highly technical responsibilities, but they also need to be able to facilitate and oversee the communication process between multiple individuals (and sometimes multiple groups of people).

  • Nurses require lots of highly technical medical training, but they also need to be emotionally intelligent and able to communicate calmly with individuals and families who are in a great deal of distress.

  • Artists, such as musicians or painters, need to obviously have a firm grasp of the finer points of their craft, but they should also ideally be able to construct a website for themselves where they can share their portfolio or sell their work online. It’s also important for artists to be able to network and communicate with local studio owners or venues, and this requires a fair bit of communication skills.

What are the Most Important Hybrid Skills to Include on a Resume?

The hard skills and soft skills that an employer will consider to be indispensable for a given role are changing all the time.

At any given time, a new technology that was once considered to be obscure or redundant might become absolutely essential within a particular industry. Coding, for example, was not so long ago a highly specialized skill that was only required for a narrow subset of computer technicians. Today, it’s becoming an increasingly vital skill for a wide variety of professionals, including IT specialists and graphic designers.

The bottom line is that the hard and soft skills that are considered “essential” to employers tend to evolve and change over time. In order to be able to maximize your chances of landing the job that you’re applying to, it’s crucial to understand the skills that are currently most valued within that sector.

And remember, hybridization is the name of the game. In most cases, it won’t be enough to simply include a list of hard skills on your resume. You’ll also need to include some soft skills in there to demonstrate to the hiring manager that you’re a particularly competent and well-rounded job candidate.

To help get you started, here are some of “the most in-demand hard and soft skills of 2020” according to LinkedIn that you should consider including in your next job application:

  • Hard skills:

  • Soft skills:

    • Creativity

    • Persuasion

    • Ability to collaborate

    • Adaptability

    • Emotional intelligence

Can Hybrid Skills Actually Increase Your Salary?

In general, hybridized jobs tend to demand a wider scope of responsibilities than jobs that are strictly technical or soft skill-oriented in nature. It’s understandable, therefore, that professionals with hybrid skills tend to be paid more than professionals with skill sets that are more unidimensional.

To illustrate this phenomenon, a 2019 report from Burning Glass examined some salary differences between professionals who possess hybrid skills and those who do not. Here are a few examples of what the report uncovered:

  • Marketing managers who possess hybrid skills earn an average of 41% more each year than those who do not.

  • General managers who have more highly developed technical skills (data processing in particular) earn an average of 29% more than their non-hybridized counterparts.

  • Customer service managers, who are traditionally regarded as more soft skilled professionals, tend to earn an annual average of 22% more when they acquire basic CRM skills (i.e, technical skills).

No matter what profession or field you’re currently working in or looking to break into, you can reliably count on earning more money each year by hybridizing your skill set.

How to Hybridize Your Skill Set to Become More Competitive

Don’t worry, you don’t need to go back to school or spend years in a job in order to acquire new soft skills or hard skills to hybridize your skill set. Thanks to modern technology, there are a huge number of ways to quickly and easily gain new skills.

A good place to start, for example, is to check out online courses. These can enable you to become certified in a wide variety of technical skills that can help you to land the hybrid job of your dreams. Here are the eight best online learning platforms to be aware of in 2020.

Interested in beefing up your resume with some new soft skills, such as creativity, collaboration, or adaptability? You might try engaging in volunteer work with a local event or organization. This is a great way to interact with people in new environments and to expand your interpersonal skills.

You should also consider reflecting on your professional experience up to the present moment. Chances are, there are considerable examples of moments when you’ve demonstrated soft skills throughout your career that you can draw upon during the job search process.

For example, can you think of any times that you’ve had to settle a workplace dispute or adapt to a new office environment? These are both examples of soft skills that can be included in your resume to hybridize your skill set and give you a leg up on the competition!

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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