How to Showcase Your Skills on Your Resume
A resume is your opportunity to tout your accomplishments. It summarizes all of the things that make you unique: your skills, experiences, accomplishments, and achievements. Of course, resumes do also happen to be space-challenged, so you have to pick and choose what to include.
That leaves you with a bit of a conundrum: What skills to put on your resume? Which skills are must-haves, and which ones can you skip? Are some skills more sought after or more important than others?
What Resume Skills Should You Include?
When it comes to the types of skills to put on a resume, you don’t need to list every skill you’ve got.
The skills to put on your resume should be limited to work-related and professional skills. They demonstrate that you’re the right person for the role in which you’re applying and help you stand out from the other candidates. And while there are nearly endless skills you could highlight, the best skills to put on your resume fall into two categories: hard skills and soft skills.
Hard Skills to Include on Your Resume
Hard skills are usually technical and often related to a specific field.
For example, hard skills can include:
- Programming or coding
- Foreign language skills
Even something that seems “less technical,” like writing, is a hard skill. Stellar writing skills play an extremely important role in modern business. Between email, instant messaging, social media, the ability to craft a clear, concise, and coherent written message is an increasingly sought-after technical skill.
While most hard skills are industry-specific, there are a few hard skills most employers want in applicants.
Project Management Skills
Even if your job title has never included “project manager,” your ability to manage the flow of tasks and see things through from start to finish is invaluable in any field.
Planning, organizing, scheduling, and managing files are all administrative skills that employers often want in their employees.
Though programming is a hard skill, your technical abilities with multiple software programs is an invaluable hard skill—particularly if you want a remote job! That said, “computer skills” is broad, so be sure to specify which tools you’re familiar with.
Soft Skills for Your Resume
Soft skills, on the other hand, aren’t as technical, but that doesn’t mean they are any less important. Soft skills are the “less tangible” qualities that can give you the edge over other candidates. Why? Though most applicants possess many soft skills, not every applicant can use them to their advantage. Here are some sought-after soft skills and why they matter to employers:
It’s great if you can identify a problem, but employers want to hire people who can implement solutions, too.
Things can change on a dime, and employers want staff who can adapt and pivot with changing circumstances—no matter how many times scenarios shift.
Creativity isn’t limited to just artistic ability. New and novel approaches to processes and procedures can result in positive change for an organization, the kind of change that can take a company from great to stellar.
Which Skills Matter More
So, now you may be asking, which are more important, hard skills or soft skills? Trick question! They are both equally important to employers.
Hard skills matter because they prove you’ve got what it takes to get the job done. Though an employer could grow your skill set, the reality is that employers would rather hire someone who already has the required skills and can jump right into the role.
It may seem that soft skills aren’t as relevant in the hiring process, but that’s incorrect. Soft skills are what help make applicants more “well-rounded.” They demonstrate that they have abilities beyond the technical, and that goes a long way in the today’s workplace.
Think about it. You may be a software development superstar. But, if nothing ever comes of your abilities because you can’t build positive working relationships with your team, it doesn’t matter how good you are at that particular hard skill.
Hard skills are only one aspect of the job. You need soft skills to complement the hard skills to succeed in any role or career, which is why they deserve equal billing on your resume.
How To Put Skills on Your Resume
It’s not enough to know what the top resume skills are—you have to know what skills the employer is looking for.
So, how do you figure out which skills you should and should not put on your resume?
Start With Keywords
Take the job posting you’re interested in, a pen, and some paper. Then read through the job posting, and make a list of the words or phrases that repeat throughout it. Once you’ve completed your list, read over that list of words, and for each word (or phrase), figure out what it means. Is it related to the core requirements of the role? The duties and responsibilities? If the answer is yes, you’ve identified a keyword.
A keyword is something you should put on your resume for various reasons. However, as keywords relate to resume skills, when you’ve identified a skills keyword, you’ve found a specific skill that you know the employer is looking for. So, if you see the phrase “project management” several times throughout the posting, you know that’s a keyword and a skill they want. If the phrase is “customer service,” “team player,” or even “smart,” you’ve identified what skills you need to include on your resume.
Connect the Dots
However, it’s best not to just include a list of keywords from the job posting on your resume. You have to demonstrate that you actually have said skills. And that means connecting the dots on your resume.
Let’s say that “problem-solving” is one of the keywords you find in a job posting. While you could describe yourself as a “problem solver” on your resume, that’s not particularly descriptive and doesn’t explain how you solve problems.
Instead, try describing a problem you identified, how you solved it, and how it benefited your employer. For example, though “identified and fixed invoicing problems” describes a problem you solved, it’s kind of plain and doesn’t really demonstrate that you’re a problem solver. Connect the dots for the employer and give that description some pizazz:
Identified invoicing problems and streamlined processes, resulting in a 2k per month increase in on-time payments
This better demonstrates that you identified a problem, shows how you fixed it, and explains how your solution benefited the company’s bottom line—and shows that you’re quite the problem solver!
Formatting Skills on Your Resume
How you format your skills on your resume may be just as important as what skills you put on your resume.
No matter what type of resume you choose (chronological, hybrid, skills-based), your resume will likely start with a qualifications summary. This is a short paragraph (four to five sentences at most) at the top of your resume.
This is the place where you sell yourself and your skills. However, it’s not the place to include your “average” skills. Those are the ones that everyone claims they have (team player, coding skills, etc.). The summary should be unique to you, so make sure you feature the combination of skills that only you possess.
For example, if you want to include your problem-solving skills, don’t say “excellent problem solver.” Try “proactive and solution-driven.” Don’t say that you possess “superior customer service skills.” Instead, say you “are committed to driving superior client satisfaction and brand loyalty to create positive customer experiences.”
Phew. That may sound like a lot, but who would you hire?
Usually, below the qualifications statement is a skills section. This would be the place to list out your skills without much explanation.
Choose the top five or six keywords from the job description to include in your skills section, along with the other skills you want to highlight for the employer. In this section, it’s acceptable to use simple words and phrases like “Adaptable,” “Social Media Advertising,” “Customer Service and Retention,” “Written and Verbal Communication,” or “Resourceful.”
That said, don’t feel that you have to use the exact keyword from the job posting if it doesn’t work. For example, if one of the keywords you identify is “marketer,” and you feel that doesn’t look right in your skills section, consider using “marketing” or even “skilled marketer” instead.
The last place to include the skills keywords is within the resume where you list out specific job responsibilities. This is where you can use keywords to help the hiring manager see how you’ve used your skills in past positions.
What Are Your Skills
While it’s important to figure out what skills to put on your resume to impress employers, don’t neglect your “other” skills. Those are the skills that are important to you or are things that you’re good at and want employers to know about.
This is especially important if you’re a career changer. When you’re making the switch from accountant to social worker, it’s not always easy to explain how your extensive experience with balance sheets translates into the necessary skills a social worker needs. But, by identifying your transferable skills, you can find the skills that each profession has in common and include those on your resume to help explain how the skill set of one profession will serve you well in another.
You might be surprised that you already possess a lot of the skills employers want, no matter what your present career is. So, how do you go about identifying them?
Start With Your Job
If you don’t know where to start, begin with your job! Look at your job description, and using the same method you would to identify keywords in a job posting, identify the key skills you need for your role.
Once you have those skills in mind, spend some time brainstorming how you use them in your job and include that information on your resume.
Though it’s easier to identify hard skills, you shouldn’t forget about soft skills. Take a look at everything you’ve pulled from the job description and figure out what soft skills you use to help you get the job done.
Do you coordinate with other departments? Lead projects? Solve problems? Collaborate with others to accomplish goals? Figuring out what skills you use to get your job done can give you plenty of skills to put on your resume.
If you’ve been in a job for any length of time, you’ve (hopefully!) had at least one written performance evaluation. Even if it hasn’t been written, you’ve (again, hopefully!) been getting regular feedback from your boss about your performance.
Refer back to these evaluations and see what your boss says about your abilities. What skills are hiding in these documents? How can you add those to your resume?
Resume Skills: More Than Just Words
Choosing the best skills to put on your resume isn’t always easy, but it’s well worth the effort. By choosing which skills to put on your resume wisely and carefully, you’ll create a resume that wows employers and gives you an edge in your job search.
If you’re looking for some personalized feedback on which skills to put on your resume, Remote.co now offers career coaching and resume reviews!
Schedule an appointment today to meet with one of our expert coaches and learn which skills belong on your resume.
By Rachel Pelta | October 23, 2020 | Categories: Work Remotely