Your resume needs to make a lasting impression on anyone who reads it.
To help you navigate this process, we've explained why skills on your resume are essential, the different types of skills to list on your resume, how to identify your best ones, and more.
A professional summary, education, work experience, and skills are the most important parts of a resume. They help HR and hiring managers determine if you're the right person for the job and directly impact your chances of being hired.
HR professionals no longer have the time to have a detailed look at every resume, especially in large and medium-sized companies. In fact, a recent survey reported that 24% of hiring managers spent fewer than 30 seconds looking at a resume.
In such a short amount of time, a skills section could play a major role in deciding your chances of being called in for an interview and landing the job. The skills section highlights important professional skills that you've developed through work experience, training programs, and school.
Moreover, there's a chance that resumes without a skills section might never make it onto a hiring manager's desk, let alone land a job interview.
In 2021, a study found that 98.8% of Fortune 500 companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) or recruiting software. These tools allow HR and hiring managers to set up automated rules that eliminate resumes without certain keywords.
A skills section is an excellent place to add keywords related to the position.
Now that you know why a skills section is necessary, let's figure out what skills to put on a resume.
There are 2 types of skills to put on your resume: soft and hard skills.
In simple terms, a soft skill highlights your emotional intelligence, while a hard skill highlights work experience.
Soft skills are interpersonal skills that define how you work, both individually and within a team. Effective communication, critical thinking, and teamwork are examples of soft skills.
Hard skills are professional skills or technical abilities that you have developed throughout your career or via training. These are specific to the role that a job seeker is applying to.
For example, a construction worker can list a certificate they’ve earned, such as “Certification in Construction Materials Testing,” as a hard skill.
Those who have just graduated can list skills they've learned in school and internships.
If you've received awards or achieved a milestone in your field, analyze what skills helped you accomplish it. These traits are likely relevant for your job position as well.
Your co-workers are a great way to identify your soft skills. Since they've worked with you, they know what you are good at and how you work.
Students can do the same with peers they've studied or handled group projects with. If you've won a group competition in college/school, ask your teammates how you contributed and what you excelled at. This is an excellent starting point.
Professionals already working in your dream industry are a great source to identify the best skills to put on a resume. They will know what traits are important and could even provide you with an idea of how they got there.
Hiring managers value effective communication skills in the workspace because it boots collaboration, both within teams and between different teams. It is also an asset for maintaining client and customer relationships.
Most roles require teamwork to complete projects. Listing this skill shows that you can get results while navigating the work process and avoiding conflicts.
Most positions require employees to adapt to varying project requirements on a daily basis. Clients A and B will have different needs, and you are expected to adjust to them.
You can show a potential employer that you're willing to put in the effort to handle multiple projects efficiently.
Negotiation is a key skill in most customer-focused roles like sales and customer service. It's also a necessity for high-level positions where employees must meet clients and close deals.
Creativity in the workplace refers to coming up with out-of-the-box ideas and innovative solutions. This trait highlights your unique approach to concepts or issues.
Trying out reasonable solutions to issues on your own rather than always depending on colleagues or managers is a highly regarded asset.
Discipline is among the key skills employers look for. A good work ethic indicates you are organized and always (or almost always) deliver assignments on time.
Time management is essential for every role, especially in the current scenario, where most workspaces are remote. This specific skill is a way to show HR that you are on time for meetings and don't miss deadlines.
Leadership skills are among the most sought after by employers. They are crucial for management or senior-level positions.
Being a leader is about having the experience, interpersonal and analytical skills to move upwards within the company.
A leader must be able to supervise their colleagues and take initiatives towards organizational goals.
Hard skills largely depend on your field or industry, but here are 9 universal ones you can include (if relevant):
If you know two or more languages, you can list them to get an edge on the competition. While your role will likely require fluency in English, knowing other languages can help improve communication with clients or customers who need it.
Social media proficiency is necessary for most content creation and marketing roles, but companies in other industries also value it since it can help promote their services.
This doesn’t involve just having a social media account. You need to know how Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms work and how businesses can leverage them.
This is an essential hard skill for most consumer-facing roles. Knowing how to handle customers, be they gentle, understanding, irate, or demanding, is a big plus for most positions.
Whether you’re applying for roles at a fast-food restaurant or a supervisor at a corporate company, you need to be able to understand and address customer needs.
Basic software skills and proficiency in elementary software like Microsoft Office, Google Suite, Adobe, etc., can give you an edge over other candidates.
Adaptability to software and computer skills are sought after since it makes it easier for you to get started in your new role.
Job seekers in the computer, software, or technology fields can go into more depth and list their technical skills individually.
This is a required skill for those in the finance sector, such as accountants and financial analysts. However, book-keeping and basic financial understanding are also valuable secondary skills in many roles, especially senior-level opportunities.
Team leads and managers must be comfortable with handling financial data and making decisions based on it since it directly affects the projects they take on and the resources they can use.
Get an edge on the competition for positions involving machinery by listing your certifications.
This can include certificates that are applicable to a specific field, such as “Fluid Power Pneumatic Technician,” or more general, such as “Plant Maintenance Technologist.”
Many certifications don’t require formal education and can be acquired via online courses and tests.
Knowledge of economic principles and mathematics makes you a great candidate for roles across industries, including finance, logistics, healthcare, and manufacturing.
Job seekers in the finance sector, such as financial planners, financial risk analysts, etc., can list multiple hard skills related to their proficiency in this field.
This is a universal hard skill that shows you know different project management methodologies and can handle multiple projects efficiently. Expertise in project management also opens up opportunities for senior roles.
While this hard skill is a must-have for graphic designers and web developers, most other industries also favor it — even if your design skills only extend to making kick-ass PowerPoint presentations.
The above examples are just a starting point on the best hard skills to put on a resume. Many of these are also considered to be transferable skills or adaptive skills, meaning they are useful for many roles.
Based on the job you're applying for, you can skip listing some of the above and expand on more relevant hard skills instead.
Once you’ve identified your soft and hard skills, here’s how you should add them to your resume:
Research your industry and see which skills they value. A great way to understand what skills to put on a resume is to look at multiple job descriptions. You'll likely find that most of these will list a standard set of skills. This will help you start building your Skills section.
Always tailor your resume to the specific job you're applying for and list the hard skills first.
Soft skills are required but not as crucial as actual expertise in the industry. Job-related skills and work history are always given the most importance.
A company hiring a software developer is likely to value a candidate's expertise in programming languages over skills like "negotiation" or "leadership."
When listing skills, you can take it up a notch by listing your expertise for each one. Typically, you can use "Beginner," "Intermediate," "Advanced," and "Expert" to indicate your level of experience and knowledge.
For example, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a relevant skill in Sales. To let a prospective employer know that you're better than other applicants, you can list this skill as "CRM (Expert)" or "CRM: Expert.”
You can also add a separate "Expertise" column parallel to the Skills column.
A well-made Skills section can give you a significant advantage over your competitors. It catches the hiring manager's attention and increases your chance of landing a job interview.
Crafting the perfect resume is no easy task, but we hope this article helped you perfect your Skills section.
Looking for more tips for your job search? Visit the Jobcase Getting Hired Resource Center.