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How to Write a Strong Resume Skills Section (20+ Skills)

Featuring the right skills in your resume can help you stand out from the competition. Here’s how to list and explain your resume skills.

Ho Lin Profile
By Ho Lin 3 minute read

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20+ Key Skills to Put On Your Resume - Examples and Tips

Acquired through experience or education, skills profoundly enhance your value to an employer because of the time and effort they take to develop. To help you create a list of top skills for your resume that help you get the job you want, we’ll be giving you these insights:

  • Key skills for specific jobs and industries
  • Examples from a variety of job opportunities
  • An understanding of top skills you should present to a recruiter
  • Skill suggestions from job experts
  • Skills that differentiate you from the competition

Most hiring managers will only scan your resume for fewer than 10 seconds before they decide what they want to do with your application, so your skills list must hit the bull’s eye. Focus on assembling skills list that presents the right information with our tips below. And remember, if you use our Resume Builder, we’ll help you populate your resume with the right skills from scratch.

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Top 20 skills for a resume

Communication skills:

Effective communication involves excellent verbal communication, written communication and nonverbal communication such as body language. Through communication, professionals can clearly convey their message, ideas, intentions and goals to others in a way that reaches the best results.

Related resume skills:

  • Written communication
  • Active listening
  • Public speaking
  • Friendliness
  • Empathy

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Copywriter, Manager and Teacher

Problem-solving skills:

Knowing how to find solutions using the skills, experiences and resources you already have is an invaluable skill, especially in jobs that require clear thinking and the ability to solve problems.

Related resume skills:

  • Brainstorming
  • Strategizing
  • Decision making
  • Information processing
  • Analytical skills

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Computer Engineering, Programmer and Event Manager

Leadership skills:

Thoughtful decision making and the ability to adapt and take charge in difficult situations is always in demand, especially now with unpredictable changes happening in several industries, and new companies that need new leaders.

Related resume skills:

  • Presentation
  • Relationship building
  • Negotiation
  • Innovation
  • Adaptability

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Business Manager, Human Resources and Sales Manager

Time management skills:

Always being on time and reliable is one of the most valuable and attractive skills for any income level or profession. Time management is crucial for building trust and meaningful connections with coworkers and clients.

Related resume skills:

  • Organization
  • Prioritization
  • Planning
  • Delegation
  • Goal setting

Jobs where this skill is useful:

English Teacher, Executive Assistant and Nursing

Flexibility:

When you’re flexible, you’re versatile, resilient and responsive to change. You can adapt to unexpected demands in the workplace — sudden surges in work, urgent problems or an unpredictable event.

Related resume skills:

  • Open minded
  • Pro-action
  • Focus shifting
  • Hard working
  • Receptiveness

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Hospitality, Logistics Manager and Web Developer

Attention to detail:

Having the ability to complete a task while demonstrating a thorough concern for all the areas involved, no matter how small. Attention to detail includes monitoring and reviewing work or information for accuracy, while organizing time and resources efficiently.

Related resume skills:

  • Proofreading
  • Editing
  • Task-oriented
  • Dedication
  • Diligence

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Editor, Pharmacist and Video Editor

Specific software and computer knowledge:

Many companies rely on specific software or computer knowledge to get things done, so any experience or certifications you have in these areas can be crucial.

Related resume skills:

  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Microsoft Office Suite

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Graphic Designer, Photographer and Java Developer

Project management skills:

Overseeing projects, working effectively with multiple teams and active listening are more integral than ever, especially as more people reenter the workforce.

Related resume skills:

  • Knowledge of project management software
  • Scheduling
  • Teamwork
  • Presentation
  • Briefing

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Construction Superintendent, Product Manager and Project Manager

Collaboration:

Working with others professionally and productively is part of every industry. Being a great communicator who knows how to deal with others and be a “team player” is an asset to any group.

Related resume skills:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Comprehension
  • Conflict resolution
  • Agility
  • Foresight

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Dental Assistant, Office Administrator and Store Manager

Conflict resolution skills:

Displaying honesty, compassion and respect to customers, peers and management is how effective solutions form and workplace conflicts decrease.

Related resume skills:

  • Mediation
  • Patience
  • Open communication
  • Perspective-thinking
  • Responsibility

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Customer Service, Kindergarten Teacher and Nurse Manager

Language skills:

Refer to your language skills as Basiс, Conversational, Fluent or Proficient.

  • Basic: You can communicate on simple topics or know some phrases in this language.
  • Conversational: You can communicate on everyday topics with minor grammar or vocabulary mistakes but you can’t write in this language.
  • Fluent: Fluently communicating means you have the ability to express any idea without hesitation, with good vocabulary and grammar; people understand you easily. Both your spoken and written skills are good.
  • Proficient: Being proficient differs from fluent in the way that you now understand the structure of the language and you can explain how this language works to other people. You also can use idiomatic language and understand local accents.

Related resume skills:

  • Spanish
  • Russian
  • Portuguese
  • French
  • German

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Hotel Front Desk, Nanny and Retail Sales Associate

Customer service skills:

Knowing how to answer customers’ questions and care for their needs is vital across many industries.

Related resume skills:

  • Empathy
  • Self-control
  • Persuasion
  • Product knowledge
  • Strong time management

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Librarian, Sales Associate and Veterinarian

Organizational skills:

Effective organizational thinking increases productivity and decreases confusion in the workplace, whether it’s keeping accurate records or being able to arrange information for easy reference.

Related resume skills:

  • Budgeting
  • Records management
  • Strategic thinking
  • Delegation
  • Documentation

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Clerical, Office Assistant and Scrum Master

Strong work ethic:

Keeping motivated and focused while learning new skills or during difficult times can help you overcome obstacles that other job seekers may be unable to. The enthusiasm and drive to excel is a crucial skill for maintaining your career momentum.

Related resume skills:

  • Discipline
  • Integrity
  • Determination
  • Collaboration
  • Responsibility

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Inventory Manager, Paralegal and Social Worker

Critical thinking skills:

Someone with critical thinking abilities can think clearly and rationally when the situation demands it, allowing them to be more effective at problem solving and decision making.

Related resume skills:

  • Analytical reasoning
  • Curiosity
  • Logical reasoning
  • Research
  • Data analysis

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Accounting, Data Analyst and Software Developer

Planning:

Thorough planning and strategy execution are essential for success and help deal with unexpected problems.

Related resume skills:

  • Budgeting
  • Teamwork
  • Decision making
  • Business analysis
  • Risk management

Jobs where this skill is useful:

CFO, Event Coordinator and Public Relations

Creative thinking:

Creative thinking leads to innovative creative solutions and includes skills such as the ability to approach challenges in unusual ways, and brainstorming.

Related resume skills:

  • Inductive reasoning
  • Data analysis
  • Brainstorming
  • Curiosity
  • Creativity

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Art Director, Interior Designer and Writer

Patience:

This extremely useful trait means that you’ll be able to maintain a calm and rational demeanor when waiting for long periods of time or dealing with stressful situations. This skill makes working with others much easier.

Related resume skills:

  • Flexibility
  • Tolerance
  • Resilience
  • Empathy
  • Interpersonal skills

Jobs where this skill is useful:

ER Nurse, Preschool Teacher and Sales Representative

Stress management skills:

The ability to maintain a calm demeanor when expectations change or things don’t go as planned is a skill in high demand. Defusing stressful situations helps people stay focused on what needs to be done, and keep sights set on end goals.

Related resume skills:

  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Time management
  • Delegation
  • Prioritization

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Entrepreneur, Healthcare and Substitute Teacher

Mentorship:

The benefit of including this skill is showing that you can provide guidance, advice, feedback and support to your mentee. Being seen as sponsor, advocate and ally, depending on the specific goals and objectives of your mentee shows leadership and commitment to the organization.

Related resume skills:

  • Management
  • Accountability
  • Active listening
  • Motivation
  • Coaching

Jobs where this skill is useful:

Creative Director, Nurse Manager and Supervisor

Hard skills vs. soft skills

It’s important to have a variety of skills on you resume, but what does that mean exactly? Well, most skills for resume can generally fall into two categories: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are skills that you train in, so you can apply them to a specific field (e.g., software skills or accounting knowledge). Soft skills are general life and job skills you can apply to any field. For example, here are a few soft skills you can consider for your resume:

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

These resume skills are all transferable skills that you can take from one job to another. They can help you assist team members, maintain relationships with coworkers and contribute to a productive, professional work environment.

Remember: only list skills if you’re fairly confident that you excel in these areas.

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Hard Skills: Examples

  • Language Skills
  • Programming
  • Sales
  • UX Design
  • Business Analysis
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Soft Skills: Examples

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Time Management
  • Organization
  • Team Work

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 come up with a “master list” of relevant skills you can use for your resume. The skills you actually end up listing in your resume will depending on your field and each specific job opportunity, so it’s important to pay close attention to the job description.

    For example, take a look at this job ad for an IT desk support position:

    BS/BA in Computer Science or related field

    Configure employee PC and macOS laptops

    Strong understanding of SOP (Standard Operating Procedures)

    Diagnose and resolve technical hardware and software issues

    Repair simple network connectivity issues

    Desktop, printer and network troubleshooting

    Understanding of LAN/WAN

    Understanding of network topologies and layers

    Based on these requirements, relevant skills for your resume would include basic computer skills like knowledge of PC and macOS laptops, SOP skills or troubleshooting. You should also add essential soft skills like written and verbal communication, organization skills and flexibility.

  • 2

    Determine the skills and work experience you should showcase

    Next, you need to determine which of your skills you should really showcase. Recruiters will be scanning your resume for skills that are most important for the job, so read the job posting carefully and take note of skills you should feature first and foremost. Remember, your resume only has have so much space, so limit yourself to truly crucial skills.

    A graphic designer, for example, might know how to use different design programs but if the employer puts more emphasis on Photoshop, that should be the hard skill you highlight the most. Not every skill and experience is worth including on your resume.

  • 3

    Include both hard skills and soft skills

    Provide a mix of hard skills and solf skills in your resume. 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 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 employers a more well-rounded picture of how you’ll do on the job, not just what you can do but how you do it.

    A good rule of thumb is to include 8-10 skills in your resume skills section. Use bullet points to list skills, for example:

    Skills:

    • Good communication skills
    • Project management skills
    • Marketing skills
    • Attention to detail
    • Presentation
    • Critical thinking skills
    • Flexibility
    • Microsoft Excel
  • 4

    Determine whether new skills may improve your job search

    Whether you’re an experienced professional or entering the job market for the first time, it’s always a good idea to brush up on your professional skills. Research your industry and read job ads to find what the most in-demand hard skills and soft skills are.

    The world is constantly changing. You might find that the skill set needed to perform a job 10 years ago doesn’t look the same. Do your homework and make sure you only highlight good skills for the job you want.

  • 5

    Learn ways to organize your key skills more effectively

    How you present your skills will depend on 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, such as:

    • Summary of Qualifications
    • Professional Skills
    • Skills

    But your resume skills section isn’t the only place to list skills. You should feature the most relevant skills to the job description in your resume summary or resume objective. A prospective employer will read your resume summary before they dive into the skills section, so highlight the hard and soft skills that the job posting gives a higher emphasis on. For example:

    Resume Summary

    Diligent IT desk support professional with three years of experience. Strong understanding of SOP, PC and MAC computer systems, and LAN. Able to work under pressure to deliver quality work and resolve issues promptly.

    Another great place to include skills on your resume is in the work experience section. Instead of simply listing a skill, here you’ll get a chance to explain how you used that skill. For example:

    IT Desk Support / Jan. 2020 – April 2024
    Smith Office Supplies, Bradenton, FL

    • Performed remote troubleshooting for over 20 office employees and resolved issues.
    • Provided technical assistance to executive-level administrators, better computer system performance by 20%.
    • Walked employees through trimestral computer security best practices.

Resume examples with hard and soft skills

Our resume examples are a great place to find inspiration and learn how others have organized their skills.

All of our examples are created by professionals with job-specific skills that can help you shape your resume into a professional, well-read and detailed summary of your career. You’ll find a resume example for a number of jobs and industries with important technical skills, soft skills and hard skills.

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Get more skills for a resume in our Resume Builder

The ResumeHelp Resume Builder is a great tool if you’re trying to create any resume, regardless of your format. With our Builder, you can find the right resume template and expert suggestions for skills on your resume based on your job and industry. You can also save as many different versions of your resume as you need to proceed with your job search as quickly as possible.

FAQ: Professional resume skills

Have questions? We’re here to help.

Important skills are the ones that you can use across several different industries. They are sometimes referred to as transferable skills and are great to highlight early in your resume, especially if you are applying for a job in a new field or have a break in your work history.

Here are a few transferable skills that you might want to add to your skills section if you have them:

  • Skills for which you have received certifications
  • Experience in programming languages like CSS and JavaScript
  • Adobe software 
  • Microsoft Suite (including Outlook, Excel and Powerpoint; not just Word processing)
  • Google Suite (Gmail, Sheets, etc.)
  • 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 but also if you have soft skills and can elaborate on them those would be an excellent addition to your resume as well. Being a respectful leader, a great communicator and excellent problem solver are assets that have a high value across almost every job field. Resume examples can come into play here as well so that you can have a template for the industries you’re interested in. Utilize the resume samples ResumeHelp has curated to check the resume skills sections on samples for specific jobs to see what kinds of skills are being listed.

Accreditations should have their own section on your resume, along with certifications or honors. You can also discuss accreditations and qualifications in a‘Summary of Qualifications” section to explain and draw attention to these top skills.
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.

The best way for you to figure out what technical 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.

Your resume should be a record of your most significant skills and accomplishments, so only highlight the skills you possess that are relevant to the position. You may want to include everything the employer highlighted in their job description but if you don’t actually have the qualifications they need, they’ll know.

You should also consider adding personal accomplishments like being a high school basketball champion. While finding familiarity with a recruiter is important, save space on your resume and stay on track by having a statement in your cover letter that reflects specific details of the company and why you’re interested.

The best job skills to highlight in your resume are the ones noted most frequently in the job description, but as noted above, make sure you actually possess those skills. Hiring managers also want to see a good balance of hard skills, technical skills and soft skills as there is more to a role than just being familiar with a specific tool or program. Companies value candidates who can cooperate and communicate well with others especially since there is so much communication performed outside of a traditional office setting.

Your resume should ‘say’ to the employer what skills and qualifications you would bring to the role and how you would fit into their company culture. You can achieve this by using a resume format best suited to your level of skills and experience, that way the hiring manager will see your ideal qualities at first glance.

ResumeHelp has great resources regarding the construction of chronological resumes: the best type for applicants with a long work history, combination or hybrid: great for candidates who want to showcase a variety of different skills and functional resumes: which are ideal for those who are entry-level candidates or career changers.

For more on writing a resume, check our How to Make a Resume article.

A resume template will typically give you three areas to write your most job-relevant abilities: the resume skills section, resume summary and work experience section.

The most straightforward is the resume skills section, where you simply have to list skills using bullet points. You should include a well-balanced mix of soft and hard skills that directly relate to the job description.

In the summary (or resume objective) you should highlight skills that are most important for the job. If the prospective employer says in their job ad that they prefer a candidate with strong writing skills and administrative skills, be sure to mention it in the resume summary, as this is the first section the hiring manager or recruiter will read.

For the work experience, you’ll want to briefly explain how you used an essential soft skill or hard skill. For example, a great way to highlight important nursing skills in the work history is by talking about how you provided comfort for patients and their families during difficult times. This sentence implies that you have empathy skills and care for your patients.

The number of skills you include in a resume will depend on the resume format.

A functional resume, also known as a skills-based resume, will have separate skills sections for you to expand on your abilities if you don’t have enough work experience. You’ll find that most functional resumes have over 12 skills mentioned.

Combination and chronological resume formats will typically feature 8-10 soft and hard skills in a resume skills section. They should be well-mixed and speak to your abilities to not just do the job well but get along with the rest of the team.

Whatever the case, it’s important to tailor your resume skills to the job. Use the job description as a guide to determine the specific skills to put on a resume.

The key to writing a resume with no experience is to focus on relevant skills and experience, even if it comes from internships, extracurricular activities or volunteer work.

Highlight in your resume soft skills that are universal across jobs and industries. Hiring managers pay a lot of attention to soft skills, so even if you’re still learning or don’t have years of experience in a field, they might give you a chance if you have the right soft skills to join the team.

Some relevant soft skills that are important whether you work in engineering or customer service include communication, adaptability, conflict resolution and leadership.

If you’re thinking about resume hard skills, it’s important to include ones that you have some grasp on and are crucial to perform the duties of the job. Hard skills are job-specific, so your programming knowledge or basic understanding of HTML might not come in handy at a journalism job. Read the job description well and see what hard skills the employer is looking for in a candidate before deciding what to add on your resume.

A cover letter is a great space to include additional hard and soft skills or expand on your skill set.

You could tell the hiring manager a story of how you used your leadership skills to lead your team to complete a task under deadline and the excellent results of your hard work. Or you could describe how you developed your communication skills by taking public speaking lessons outside of work or bettered your computer skills by following online tutorials. Explain what prompted you to start a career in project management and what has been your proudest accomplishment thus far.

A cover letter also provides the space to talk about other hard skills and soft skills that weren’t mentioned on your resume. If you run out of space, you can mention important project management skills, other writing skills or more customer service skills that are important to the job.
Cover letters have a story-telling element that’s meant to convince hiring managers that you have the professional and personal qualities to be of value to the company, and that they should contact you for a job interview.

For more cover letter tips, see our How to Write a Cover Letter article and our library of cover letter examples and cover letter templates.

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Ho Lin Profile
WRITTEN BY Ho Lin

Ho Lin is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and editor with two decades of experience in content strategy, creation, and development. He holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University and his background includes experience aiding military veterans as they transition to civilian careers.

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