You’re applying for new jobs and deciding to update your resume. You’ve been staring at that blank section where your skills are supposed to go for 20 minutes. Then you’ve found the right article! By the end of this article, you will know what skills to put on your resume.
It can be super tempting to scroll down to the skills list and start copying and pasting some of the skills into your resume without thinking, don’t do that! I have written, reviewed, and revised thousands of resumes and CVs in my career, so trust me when I say there’s a better way.
Regardless of the career path or type of job you want, you will need to possess specific skills, some hard skills, and some soft skills.
Hard vs. Soft Skills
Before you start filling up your key skills section, let’s discuss the two types of skills to put on your resume, the different ways to showcase them, and where they go. And remember, your hobbies are not skills! For example, having a solid reading habit is a great hobby, but it’s not a skill.
Hard skills are things you have learned, practiced, and mastered that you can easily demonstrate to another person. Often you might have qualifications or certificates that prove your hard skills, but most importantly, you should have examples or a portfolio to showcase the hard skills you have developed.
Coding is a hard skill. You can be certified in your specific programming language and show someone a program you built or code you have written.
If you have hard skills that you want a potential employer to know about, put them in your skills section with any qualifications or awards you have received. AIs will be checking you have the required skills, so make sure they’re there. You can also highlight them in your work experience section.
“Advanced HTML & CSS skills – W3Schools Certified”
On the other hand, soft skills are much harder to measure; a good example would be teamwork skills. Therefore, though you may have qualifications that relate to your soft skills, they are often much harder to pinpoint and prove to an employer on a resume.
So putting soft skills in your resume skills section is not a great idea.
Though you can add soft skills to your resume’s skills section, they may feel a little flat without enough context to convince the reader of your ability. So instead, use your professional experience section to highlight your soft skills. There you have the space to show how you developed or utilized the skill recently.
“2018-2020 Human Resource Assistant
- I lead a cross-departmental team to create a new HR employee system, developing my teamwork skills greatly.”
Check the Job Description First
When it comes to updating your skills in your resume, the place to start isn’t the latest technical training you’ve completed or your new work experience. It’s not even within your resume. You should always start from the job.
A resume is not something you create to represent you as a competent employee, which you send to employers hoping to land a job. The optimal way to create a resume is to make it for one job only. Every job you apply for requires different responsibilities, so you need another resume for each.
So start with the job; if you have a job description, read it and note the skills required. The successful candidate will most likely possess all the skills necessary or have adjacent skills which prove the ability to learn the required ones.
The skills you found in the job description are the skills you need to highlight throughout your resume as they are the skills your recruiter will be seeking. If you don’t have the required skills, showcase the adjacent skills you possess or start getting up earlier to give yourself time to learn them!
Adjacent skills are similar or require a similar process to learn. By showing you possess a skill adjacent to one required by the employer, you imply you will be able to learn it. This strategy is better than simply stating that you are a “quick study” and can pick up the required skills. Recruiters want something more concrete.
If a job requires Java coding skills, mentioning your C++ would be considered an adjacent skill. A career requiring corporate training experience may still consider someone with teaching experience, for example.
Hard Skills to Put on Your Resume
1. Language Skills – French, German, or Chinese
Hard skills include languages. It might not surprise you that only twenty percent of Americans can converse in more than one language. However, you may not realize that by learning a second language, you gain a considerable benefit in the job market, over 80% of the population.
So highlighting your language abilities in your resume is a must. If you have a summary section at the top of your resume, add it there; else, be sure it stands out under your skills heading.
2. Coding Skills – Java, PHP or .net
Of course, most jobs don’t require coding skills, and employers are not necessarily looking for them. But a candidate with an ability to code stands out for many reasons.
- Coders are independent learners
- Coders can do deep work
- Coders are highly logical
- Coders are problem solvers
So even if the job you’re applying for doesn’t require any programming skills or experience, putting it on your resume still says something about the type of worker you are.
3. Software Skills – Microsoft Office, Salesforce, or Dynamics AX
Basic computing skills and proficiency with standard software are must-haves for most jobs, but most employers look for more than word and excel experience.
Check the job description for required or preferred software skills. If you find none, look at other similar jobs and their software requirements. Common software includes:
- Office – Word Processing, Spreadsheets, etc.
- CRM – Customer Relationship Management
- ERP – Enterprise Resource Management
- CMS – Content Management System
- Photo Editing Software
- Video Editing Software
4. Artistic Skills – Photoshop, Technical Drawing or Sketching
Artistic skills, whether drawing, painting, sculpting or creating digital art, are evidence of a potential employee who can see things differently. Aside from the apparent necessity of design and creative companies to employ artists, you will find that more traditional corporations also like to hire people with artistic abilities.
In a world where resumes look more alike than ever, with similar degrees and a long list of unprovable soft skills, an employer can easily see the value of having a staff member who can turn imagination into reality. A link to an online portfolio is a good idea if you include your artistic skills in your resume; it may even land you the job.
5. Office Equipment Skills – Printers, PC Repair
If you’ve ever worked in an office, you probably knew that one guy who could fix your PC could always manage to get the printer working again, and when the projector wasn’t functioning, he was the one to call. However, you probably didn’t know he wasn’t hired to be a general Mr. Fix it.
Over time he just gained a reputation for solving people’s office equipment problems and eventually became indispensable for it. So even if you’re applying for a seemingly unrelated job, an employer can instantly see the benefit of hiring someone with these skills.
6. Sales Process Skills
While sales skills can be soft skills closely related to communication, knowledge, and experience with the sales process is undoubtedly a hard skill. The sales process is a seven-step process that the best salespeople use to make more sales than anyone else. Most companies have their own sales process, which they have adapted to their needs.
- Handling objections
The skills to use the sales process and stick to it step by step are highly sought after by sales managers of the largest companies in the world. Therefore, you should include it in your skills and work experience sections if you apply for a sales role.
7. Project Management Skills
Project management is a hard skill applicable to many industries and positions. Proven experience in managing and completing projects lets the employer know that you have organization and time management skills and know how to get things done.
Other than simply showing your project management experience and highlighting one or two big projects you have seen through to completion, which is an excellent indicator of project management skills. Offering proficiency in project management software and GANNT charts will also make you a highly prized potential employee.
8. SEO Skills
More companies rely on Search Engine Optimization SEO for their promotion, sales, and brand awareness, as corporations use their blogs to reach out and find new customers. As a result, SEO skills are essential for more than just the website administrator and the content creators.
By fully utilizing SEO, team members can create value with optimized content. Still, understanding SEO may mean the difference between a finance manager budgeting for 10,000 pieces of new content instead of a single advertising campaign.
Do you have experience with AHrefs, Semrush, or Moz? These are sought-after SEO skills that should be on your resume!
9. Social Media Marketing Skills
You can’t get away from social media now, even at work! As a result, companies are employing social media policies, which govern more than just the need for employees to like company posts.
Social media marketing skills show a potential employer that you understand how to use social media as a marketing tool and the effects your posts (even personal posts) could have on the company. That is valuable for companies in a world scrutinizing where social media more heavily than ever before.
10. Time Management Skills
Is time management a soft or hard skill? If you have a general sense that you manage your time well, it’s a soft skill, but if you use a well-structured time management system, it becomes a hard skill, and you become much more productive.
Rather than adding “Strong time management skills” to your resume, try “Experienced GTD/Pomodoro/Asana/Kanban user with strong time management skills.” Adding the time management tools you use lends more credence to your ability.
Soft Skills Examples to Put on Your Resume
11. Independent Work
New lifestyle choices have appeared, fuelled mainly by the ability to stay connected online and be exposed to more possibilities than ever. People are selling their houses to live in RVs, vans, micro-houses, and boats. Even more are deciding to get a digital nomad job and travel the world, working online.
The only way any of this is possible is through the ability of employees to work independently. Companies are recognizing the trend and value now, more than ever, the ability to work independently.
Independence is more than simply working by yourself, and it’s not only for introverted extroverts; it’s a mindset that you can face the challenges that come your way and continue towards your goal. For example, solo sports such as martial arts and tennis, entrepreneurial skills, and challenges taken alone such as marathon running and climbing can show independence better than office work can.
Communication is more than just being able to talk to people; there are a vast array of sub-skills under the communication banner.
- Written communication
- Public speaking
- Motivational speaking
- Discussion and debate
- Reporting to senior management
Rather than adding “Communication skills” to a list on your resume, write what you did to gain the experience, and the skill will speak for itself. E.g., “Trained 200 employees for CPA with 96% pass rate.”
Teamworking involves more than just working together on a task; think back to which parts of the teamwork skill-set you are particularly adept at.
- Brainstorming ideas
- Analysis and discussion
- Planning and goal setting
- Task delegation between team members
- Solving team problems
- Incorporating the teams work
“Strong team player” then becomes “I regularly worked in a product development team, analyzing and discussing potential product lines.” From a resume that says I’m a team player to one that shows it.
If the job you are applying for isn’t creative, be careful about including too many examples of your creativity. Most companies don’t want a creative accountant, for example!
However, showing a creative side isn’t difficult, and most employers value creativity.
For professional creative skills such as ideation for marketing campaigns or product lines, use your work experience section to show these skills.
For non-professional creative skills such as musical ability or a sculpting or writing hobby, a section labeled “Other Interests” or “Activities & Memberships” would be where you want to put these skills.
15. Attention to Detail
No one likes sloppy work! So attention to detail skills are highly prized by most companies, but if you are applying to jobs in the technical or finance industries, they will be a must.
Examples of highly detail-oriented tasks or projects you have completed in the past will be the best way to showcase this skill.
Conscientiousness is the ability to work hard, usually above and beyond what is expected of you. It’s not hard to see why a manager or team leader would value this competency. You need to be tactful in getting this point across, though, “I work hard” doesn’t work well on a resume.
Large projects or significant achievements do much more to show your hard-working nature than saying it ever will. If you ever wrote a book, built a piece of software, or saw a successful project launch to completion, your conscientiousness will come through naturally.
17. Leadership Skills
Gaining leadership experience before you become a leader can seem like an oxymoronic idea, but you don’t have to have been in a leadership role to portray leadership qualities. Leaders tend to do three things, so if you have experience with these three traits, you have leadership experience.
Leaders set goals.
If someone decides what you’re working towards, you’re almost certainly not in charge; they are. If you’re unsure who is pulling the strings, look at who is setting the goals. While you may not have direct leadership experience, have you ever been the one setting the purpose of a group?
Leaders decide how to hit the goal.
Like setting goals, the leader also decides how to work towards the goal. A leader, especially a good one, may outsource this (or even the goal setting) to someone else, but he is still getting the goal set and the method planned, even if he doesn’t do it personally.
After setting a goal like increasing sales by 10%, a leader will need to devise a plan. You surely have some planning experience for your resume.
Leaders motivate toward the goal.
What happens when the team falls short of the goal? It’s up to an excellent leader to get them back on track, it may be through pure motivation, or it could be some form of performance-related pay. Getting your team excited simply by talking to them is often considered the ultimate leadership quality.
18. Emotional Intelligence
Much gets said about emotional intelligence nowadays, especially regarding social interaction. As we become ever more interconnected, emotional intelligence will only play a more prominent role in our work lives.
Experience that shows you have a high EQ:
- You have spent time with other cultures
- You take criticism well
- You practice self-awareness
- You use active listening
- You empathize with others
The world now changes faster than anyone can keep up with, and it’s not just the tech sector. While it’s easy to see people’s preferences turn from Facebook to Instagram to TikTok in just a few years, preferences are changing consumer habits in all sectors.
High fat replacing low fat, recyclable to reusable, and spending habits turn on a dime when human rights violations come to light.
The ability to change with changing circumstances is more important than ever and will continue to be. Experience in dynamic workplaces or vastly differing environments are ways to capitalize on this unique ability.
20. Problem-Solving Skills
We are natural problem-solving creatures; it’s how we have survived this long, but being a skilled problem solver is different. Can you take a problem and systematically break it down and develop a suitable solution consistently? There is a step-by-step process you can follow.
- Identify the Problem
- Analyze the Problem
- Describe the Problem
- Look for Root Causes
- Develop Alternate Solutions
- Implement the Solution
- Measure the Results
Understanding this process and showing how you’ve used it in the past is the best way to put problems solving skills on your resume.
Final Thoughts on Resume Skills
- Look for the relevant skills in the job description.
- Highlight your technical skills (hard skills) with qualifications.
- Demonstrate your skills and expertise (soft skills) by citing your accomplishments and experience.
- Improve your skill-set with key job skills so your resume is even better in the future.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
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About the author
Originally from the U.K Greg has lived in Asia for over 15 years. Fluent in a handful of languages, he ran a management consultancy before creating FaceDragons, a site dedicated to facing challenges and getting stronger. He spends his time traveling around Asia, writing, taking photos, and drinking coffee.