Your resume should be riddled with impressive skills to garner and sustain the attention of prospective employers. But everyone knows that — and that's why the skills section of your resume can be easily overlooked if you don't make yours something special. After all, most applicants will include that they're effective communicators and can use Microsoft Word.
What you need to list on your resume are the best skills — skills that will uniquely enable you to support the company's mission, whatever that company and its mission may be.
The best skills to list on your resume are the skills for which different employers deliberately call. This means cutting all of the corporate jargon that clutters your resume because you think that's what hiring managers want to read — and replacing all of that with specific skills that will actually prove useful for the job position to which you're applying at the company at which you want to work.
Ultimately, the best skills aren't inimitable to you or the company, since tons of applicants will have the same skills and tons of companies are looking for those same skills. But you can list these skills in such a way that they make you come across as incomparable talent.
There are three sets of skills you should consider:
It's important to understand that all of these skills — technical, soft and interpersonal — may be job-specific or transferable. You don't need to include job-specific skills that are not applicable to the new job's requirements, but any skills that can be transferable is good to inform employers.
First things first, you need to know what exactly technical skills are. Technical skills, also known as your hard skills, refer to your abilities to perform specific tasks thanks to your experience with and knowledge surrounding those tasks. These will, of course, vary depending on your field.
Some of the best technical skills to list on your resume, depending on your industry, include the following.
Soft skills refer to your personal attributes that enable you to engage harmoniously with others, such as colleagues, managers, clients, etc. Soft skills are, arguably, just as important as technical skills since, even if you're the best programmer out there, you'll still need to be able to work well with your team in order to get a job done.
Many of your interpersonal skills (your social skills), are soft skills that determine how well you interact and communicate with others where social rules and relations are created and communicated in both verbal and nonverbal ways.
Some of the best soft skills to list on your resume (only if you genuinely possess them!) include the following.
The skills section of your resume shouldn't just be tacked onto the bottom as a blurb of fluff because it's "supposed to be there." Your skills section should entice prospective employers just as much as the experiences and education sections of your resume.
So how exactly do you work skills into your resume?
The first step is to read the job description for the opening in which you're interested carefully. Read it more than once so that you're sure you understand exactly what the company wants in a candidate. This way, you'll be able to actually mirror some of the job description's language in your skills section.
You can then list your skills section just below the experiences section on your resume. This may come before your education details, which should be listed after your experiences if you have a lot of impressive experiences. Or it may come after your education section, as well, since that might come even before your experiences if you're a recent graduate or just have fewer or less impressive experiences (not as impressive as your education!) to share.
Either way, the skills section shouldn't come first, but it shouldn't come last if it's truly impressive. You'll want your prospective employer(s) to understand all of your job histories so they get a feel for your experiences, but you'll equally want them to know what skills you've garnered from those experiences that can help them specifically.
That's why mirroring their language is so important. For example, if the job calls for a writer with experience using WordPress' Yoast SEO tool, you'll want to be sure that you mention not only your previous writing experiences but also your WordPress and SEO skills. If the job calls for a video editor with a keen eye for detail and experience using Avid, you'll want to be sure that you not only share the details of your previous editing gigs that required serious attention to detail but also your experience using Avid, in particular.
In the same vein, you don't want to clutter your skills section with skills that don't matter to the hiring manager reading your resume. Make sure that your resume is strategically customized for the job for which you're applying — that means not only adding specific skills but also cutting irrelevant ones.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.
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