Valerie Martinelli, MPA
Career & Leadership Development Expert

When writing a resume, it is important to showcase your skills to let employers know your true value proposition. However, it is also important to know which skills and work experience you should highlight and which are not key skills and won't help you stand out to potential employers.

As you probably know, you should only highlight the key skills that will get you an interview. I usually consider these a job seeker’s top skills and qualifications and include them in a separate skills section on a professional resume. This can help you target your different skill sets to individual positions with the job descriptions that complement both the positions and your own experience. Let’s take a look at how your skill sets matter on your resume and ultimately, in your job search.

Why Editing Your Resume Matters

When applying for jobs, it is important to have a resume that fits each job description. While you probably don't relish the though of writing and re-writing your resume with different professional skills, it's not as difficult as you might think. In fact, the process is really quite simple.

Consider where you are displaying your value proposition, usually found in your summary and skills sections. By editing those sections for each job description—ensuring that your objective matches the goals of the hiring manager and position—you can use them for targeting, which will increase the likelihood you will receive an interview.

If you're worried about how tedious it might be to tailor your resume to invidual positions, remember that each hiring manager wants someone who fits in with the company and the role. I’m not just referring to a great company culture, salary, or benefits package. I am referring to your hard skills list. Not every employer may need to see specific tech skills; she wants to see job-specific skills that are relevant to the role at hand. That's why it is necessary to edit this section to fit each job description. It is also essential to edit your summary and resume objective to discuss your skills and qualifications for each job description.

Lack of editing shows a lack of care and attention to detail to potential employers, and you don't want to give you a reason not to hire you. If you’re not great at editing, try to find someone who is and can assist you with that process of highlighting your best professional skills. Ignoring that crucial step and sending out the same resume isn’t the best way to display your technical skills, experience, accomplishments, and other qualities.

Ineffective Resume Skill Examples

Often, people are confused about which skills bolster your resume for potential employers and which ones should not be included.

Remember, always be honest on your resume. Don’t ever list a position that you never had. Getting caught in a lie will cost you the job before you even knew that you had a chance. Do not ever include skills you don’t have or embellish your qualifications. I realize that it may be tempting. but it will only hurt you in the end. Besides, if you don't have the skills to do the job, then how would you function if you were to get hired? Stick with honesty when it comes to the job searching process.

The following is a list of ineffective sample resume skills. Don’t ever list any of these on your resume:

• Obsolete Skills.

This one may particularly apply to technical skills. Old technologies that don’t apply to the position or have become outdated within the industry also do not belong on the resume. If you’ve been out of the workforce for awhile, it is important to ensure that the skills listed on your resume are still in-demand by potential employers. It may be time to update your skill set prior to updating your resume.

• Unrelated Skills.

Unless it is a necessary technology, hard skill, or soft skill (such as leadership skills) for the position , it does not belong on your resume. I have spoken with plenty of job seekers who are afraid that if they don’t list everything, then they won’t look qualified enough to get an interview. The opposite is true. Recruiters find it painful to read through a resume if it isn’t well-suited to the job description.

• Skip the Overused Buzz Words.

Words like strategic, specialized, passionate, and focused are not necessary because they just add extra fluff to a resume rather convey your actual value proposition to a potential employer.

• Expected Skills.

There are skills that employers expect employees to have, such as the internet, Windows, email, and Microsoft Office. These do not need to be listed because employers will assume you have them.

These skills are considered to be ineffective and a waste of space. Only include pertinent skills, facts, and alike. You also do not need to fit everything onto your resume. Remember: your LinkedIn profile can help fill in the gaps. A potential employer will not be impressed by a resume that lacks a clear strategy. In other words, if you’re not putting enough effort into it to understand the skills and other factors that do not belong on there, you're showing the potential employer that you would be unwilling go the extra mile for them either if they were to employ you.

Effective Resume Skill Examples

So, what are examples of effective resume skills?

Soft skills.

When people think of soft skills, they think of people skills. However, there are many other types of soft skills that are important to include.

Soft skills are important to potential employers because they provide them with a feel for your personality and values. They also give them a feel for what you may be like to work with on a daily basis. These skills are harder to quantify, but that doesn't make them any less important. If anything, soft skills are more important in some situations because they also provide a feel for how you get along with others. These skills are the skills that often can't be taught or trained.

Soft skills are particularly important when you're transitioning between industries or seeking leadership positions. Leadership positions require individuals to have their soft skills dialed in, particularly with regard to their communication and emotional intelligence.

Resume skills examples of soft skills include:

Communication Skills:

Interpersonal skills
Verbal communication skills
Listening skills
Nonverbal communication skills
Persuasion skills
Emotional intelligence
Presentation, storytelling, and public speaking skills
Writing skills, including writing reports and proposals

Critical Thinking Skills:

Problem Solving
Willingness to Learn

Leadership Skills:

Conflict Management and Resolution
Ability to provie well-defined, understandable feedback
Talent Management
Project Management

Teamwork Skills:

Awareness and Acceptance of Others
Emotional Intelligence
Ability to Collaborate
Social Skills
Team-Building Skills
Networking Skills

Technology Skills:

Architect Skills
Big Data Skills
Data Analytics
Developer Skills
Graphic Design Skills
Digital Media Skills
Web Development
Software Development
Scrum Master
Tech Support
Technical Writing

It's also important to consider what type of job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a customer service position, the skill requirements would be a bit different than a more technical position. For example, you would be required to maintain skills such as communication, leadership, assertiveness, self-control, listening, positivity, empathy, humor, taking responsibility, conflict resolution, and depersonalization.

  • Hard Skills: Your Qualifications

Hard skills are also very important for your resume. These are the qualifications that enable you to do the job. Hard skills show your experience and accomplishments. This is where it is important to employ action verbs.

A mistake that job seekers often make is just stating that they accomplished something successfully. I emphasize the necessity for data and proof that it was accomplished. For example, if a job seeker saved their department money, I'd want to know how much. Or, if your work involved sales, use figures to show what you’ve accomplished.

Use action verbs to actively demonstrate what you have accomplished over your career. Using these verbs also keeps you from using the passive voice, which won't help. Action verbs demonstrate a job seeker’s value proposition best.

Marketing Yourself is Storytelling

It is best to let your resume tell the story rather than trying to cram keywords into it. The resume skills examples listed above are skills that potential employers are consistently seeking, but a job seeker doesn't need to list every single one to show up in the ATS system; just highlight a few that are really personal skills of your .

Also, avoid writing a duty-driven resume. By using your skills and keywords to tell the story, it becomes much easier to understand the targeting and how to market yourself to potential employers. Highlight skills that you can demonstrate through a proven track record with past employers. For example, if you work in design, thinking about the computer-aided design skills you need and demonstrate how that knowledge is important to other employers. You can also prove those skills within your past employment.

When writing, do not forget how your education and any certificates or professional training have played a role in your career, as well. The factors that play a role in your growth and development have ultimately aided you in the development of your skills. As your career grows, your value proposition also tends to grow because you acquire more knowledge and skills. These hard skills are the most important on a resume because they are the ones that can be proven and/or measured throughout your career. Think of the certificates you’ve earned to acquire more programming skills or the course you took to learn graphic design.

You can highlight your skills in other aspects of your resume, such as your work history and accomplishments. Also, you can mention some of your skills in your cover letter as you are discussing why you would be a good fit and are qualified for the job. Cover letters should also be targeted for each job description to match your resume.

Your skills are what make you marketable to potential employers. They are part of your personal branding. Personal branding is a must in a job search because it is the strategy that can segue into a larger brand. For example, a personal brand can become part of a larger strategy for a startup later in your career.

Building a personal brand requires time and commitment. It can become a platform for relationship building, business development, and landing your dream career. It also is a part of your professional development and helps you enhance your skills throughout your career.

Like marketing on a corporate level, marketing yourself is storytelling. You are trying to engage the reader—the recruiter and ultimately the potential employer—with your story. Your story includes your hard skills, tech skills, soft skills, work experience, and accomplishments. This is also why personal branding is so crucial. Having a strategy for promoting yourself through your resume helps you connect with potential employers, recruiters, and in professional networking.