The Best Ways to List Resume Skills

Putting the right skills in your resume is one way to stand out from the competition in your job search. Here’s how to list and explain your skills.


List Your Skills and Showcase Them to a Hiring Manager

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Skills for Resume

The “skills” section of your resume is a section that is often glossed over. Many people add a variety of skills to their resume that they don’t know very well, or highlight skills that are just baseline necessities for the job they’re applying for. This isn’t making the resume work for you.

Remember, your resume is only a single page, and most hiring managers are only reading your resume for fewer than 10 seconds before they decide what they want to do with your application. You need to make sure that your skill list isn’t full of unnecessary material. Instead, focus on creating a skill list that presents the right information. Our resume and cover letter experts will help you make sure that your skill list actually helps your chances of getting a job.

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5 Steps to Make Your Skills Stand Out on Your Resume

1. Decide on all the relevant skills for your resume
The first thing you need to do is figure out a variety of relevant skills you can include on your resume. Depending on your field and each specific job opportunity, these skills will be different. The skills that you should feature in your resume will thus depend on the specific job you’re applying for.
2. Determine the skills and work experience you should showcase
Next, you need to take specific steps to determine which of your skills you should really showcase. Because of how recruiters scan your resume, you need to make sure the most important skills go at the top of the list. Remember, you only have so much space, so limit yourself to truly crucial skills.
3. Understand both hard skills and soft skills
Hard skills and soft skills are two different sets of skills. Soft skills are typically skills that are more personality-driven and are helpful in all professions, like critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, a strong work ethic, and leadership. Hard skills, on the other hand, are skills that you learn for a specific field, such as knowledge of specific software. Including both hard skills and soft skills on a resume can give a more well-rounded idea of how you’ll behave with a job.
4. Determine whether new skills may improve your job search
It’s always a good thing to improve your resume every chance you have. If you start seeing that many people in your job field have a certain skill on your resume, but you don’t have that skill, it’s a good idea to brush up on that skill, and fill out your resume a little bit more.
5. Learn ways to organize your key skills more effectively
This will tie into the format you use for your resume. Once you pick the right format — chronological, functional or combination – you’ll know how to organize your skills. For example, a functional resume will present a more comprehensive list of your top skills, organized in categories. Check out our resume examples to see how others have organized their skills.

List Specific Skills That Will Boost Your Resume

In general, you want to make it as easy as possible for a hiring manager to scan your resume and determine you’d be a great fit for a team. This means utilizing bullet points for readability, describing your skills in ways that match the job description, and featuring both soft and hard skills. You want to make sure that a hiring manager understands who you are and what you can bring to the table.
One of the best ways to manage your resume is to take inspiration from examples. Check out our resume examples, which cover hundreds of jobs and industries. Just remember that if you find you’re not getting a lot of bites on job applications, upgrading your skills section is one of the best options to improve your chances.

FAQ: Professional Resume Skills

Q: Are some skills not important enough to put on my resume?

Some types of skills may not really hold as much weight nowadays. Many of the skills individuals list on their resume have become cliché, and hiring managers won’t be as impressed by them, so if you’re interested in cleaning up your skill list for your resume, you may want to avoid listing any of these skills, unless they’re specifically required by the employer:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office Word
  • Basic HTML
  • Basic SEO
  • QuickBooks
  • Generic computer skills

If you have advanced knowledge of Excel, HTML, SEO, or another tool, this can be a great thing to put on your resume; creating spreadsheets with Excel can be surprisingly difficult. However, do not list skills that you only have a rudimentary understanding of, as it won’t boost your resume — it could have the opposite effect if an employer finds out the truth.

Q: What counts as important skills?

What really counts as a skill, especially if it’s not typically a good idea to put super-basic skills on the list? It’ll depend on the needs of your job. Here are a few skills that you might want to add to your skills section if you have them:

  • Any skills for which you have received certifications
  • Experience in programming languages like CSS and JavaScript
  • Adobe software
  • Graphic design experience and knowledge
  • Advanced SEM and SEO experience
  • Foreign languages, as well as your level of proficiency

These are all important job skills. Of course, you can’t apply these skills universally; if you’re working for a 3D modeling company, you’ll want to list the graphic design programs you have experience with, but if you’re applying to work at a security company, that same skill probably won’t be very important. This is where resume examples can come into play; you can check the resume skills sections on samples for specific jobs to see what kinds of skills are being listed.

Q: What are the differences between hard skills and soft skills?

In a fundamental sense, hard skills are skills that you train in so you can apply them to a specific field. Soft skills are general life and job skills you can apply to any field. Here are a few soft skills you should consider for your resume:

  • Communication skills
  • Adaptability
  • Problem-solving
  • Active listening
  • Time management
  • Project management
  • Critical thinking
  • Customer service skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership skills
  • People skills

These are all transferable skills that you can take with you from one job to another because they’re all skills you’ll need in a variety of different areas in life. They can help you assist team members, maintain relationships with co-workers, and contribute to a productive, professional work environment.
However, it’s incredibly important that you only list soft skills if you’re fairly confident that you excel in these areas. Anyone can say, for example, that they’re good at critical thinking, but how have you actually utilized that talent in your job? If you haven’t used these skills often, you probably don’t want to put them on your resume, as your job interview may determine that you actually don’t have these skills.
Remember that hard skills are just as important as soft skills. Let’s face it, if you’re applying to work for website design, but you don’t know web development, you’re not going to get the job. Overall, look to feature the right skills for the type of job you’re looking into, whether those are hard skills or soft skills. It likely won’t get you the job if you list hard skills alone or soft skills alone, and it’s up to you to make sure you’re listing both of them.

Q: Are accreditations considered relevant skills?

Accreditations can have their own section on your resume, or you may choose to include them with your skills. Some people put them in their own section, and list them as “top skills” or “best skills.” However, it’s important to remember that accreditations are in fact skills, and they’re extremely good skills, too. Make sure you include them in your resume.
Different resume formats may offer you the space to include accreditations, or you may find that it will go in your general list of skills. This will depend on which resume format you choose.

Q: How do I find out what technical skills are valued in my line of work?

The best way for you to figure out what skills are valued in a specific line of work is just to look at other resume examples and job postings for the same line of work. The more you look at these resume examples, the more you’ll be able to see what employers are looking for and what employees are putting front and center. Make sure you look at resumes in both your general industry and, if you can find them, the specific job you’re applying for.
Different places will value different skills, and if you don’t have some of the skills on the list, prioritize showing off the skills you do have rather than stressing out about the skills you don’t. As you continue to polish your resume, you can start learning those important skills and add them to your resume as you become more confident in them.

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