By the time you’ve reached the stage in life where you’re compiling a resume and searching for a steady job, you’ve already developed a number of skills. From your time in school, for instance, you’ve likely already become skilled at Microsoft Word (if not all of Office) and proofreading. But so have most others. So, how do you make your “skills” section on your resume stand out from the pack?
Simple: you list your special skills.
What are special skills?
Special skills aren’t a whole set of skills that you’ve never heard of. Rather, they are often the rarer skills that most people don’t possess. This special skills often require training and are more tangible than other skills. Knowing CPR, for example, and having that certification is most assuredly a special skill. Leadership, however, isn’t such a skill. Of course, it’s not fair to say that having prime leadership skills isn’t special, but it is far more intangible than knowing CPR or possessing technical skills. It’s hard to judge the leadership skills of someone, especially on paper. With special skills, if you have it on paper, there’s not too much to discuss. You either possess the skill or you don’t. In other words, special skills are unique skills that are easy to prove.
How to list special skills on a resume.
In listing your special skills on your resume, you have two primary options.
First off, you can simply list them in bullet point fashion. This is not unlike listing more typical skills on a resume. And if your special skills are as easily recognizable and proveable as CPR Certification, this may be a great way to save space on the page. If you believe some of your skills may need further detail — which is often warranted — the next option may be better.
The second primary way to list your special skills on your resume is to list them in bullet point or heading fashion and then further describe each skill directly underneath each individual main bullet point or heading. Remember, specials skills are typically easier to prove. So in this description, prove your claim of having the skill. For example, if you’ve listed “client satisfaction” as a skill, include your product satisfaction statistics for numerous projects.
Often, the details of special and specific skills are given under previous job experience. This also more than acceptable. Resumes are fluid. There’s no singular right way to arrange one. Though it should go without saying that you should tailor your resume, only including special skills relevant to the job for which you’re applying.
Examples of special skills.
Special skills can be hard to define. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t that many of them. Rather, there are a multitude of special skills that you may unknowingly already have.
Here are 13 special skills to help get you started.
• Website design.
• Computer programming.
Love Java the program more than coffee? Perhaps with a side of C++, PHP and Python? You should include this skill on your resume.
• Video creation.
Excel at video creation from start to finish? Say so! If you’re more skilled with a specific aspect, such as video editing or cinematography, state that instead.
A lot of jokes are made at the expense of accountants, but they are a vital part of any business. If you’re not a CPA, mentioning that you have this special skill can only help your case.
• Graphic design: Even with the help of phones and computers, a lot of us still can’t even create acceptable stick figures. If you’re among the special group of people skilled at producing what others can only imagine, let people know!
• Social media management.
We’re not talking about your individual account here. But if you’ve managed a substantial business/brand page and had great success, say as much. Also, it can’t hurt to cite some statistics during your time managing said account(s).
• Data interpretation.
A pretty self-explanatory skill that’s special nonetheless. If you can accurately interpret data, in whatever field you work in, say so. It’s not exactly a common skill.
• Diagnostics and troubleshooting.
Just like your computer will run diagnostics and troubleshoot, if you can do this in the workplace, you’re highly prized asset. Include this skill on your resume to indicate how valuable you are.
• Data mining.
The ability to discover patterns in large data sets isn’t exactly common. If you’re skilled at data mining, say so.
• Social media marketing.
Managing social media accounts and marketing on them are two completely different things. If you have proven success in the latter, it's important to specify it on your resume.
• Email marketing and automation.
Are you a MailChimp wizard? Have the data to prove it? Write it down. It may seem simple to you, but it’s certainly not to most.
• UX design.
User experience can make or break any product. If you have this skill, be sure to mark it down. It’s highly sought after.
• Audio production.
In the world of podcasts and videos, let alone music, the ability to produce high-quality audio recordings is of extreme value. Be sure to list this highly desired special skill should you have it.
There are numerous special skills that belong on your resume — problem-solving skills, transferable skills and more. Making your resume stand out from others is never easy. But special skills can go a long way in setting you apart from the pack.
J.P. Pressley is a writer, entrepreneur, filmmaker, and an asthmatic former two-sport college athlete (basketball and track). Is he a jockey-nerd or a nerdy-jock? The world may never know. You can learn more about him at his personal website.