What Skills to List on Resume: Your Key to Success
A resume is the very first source of information about you for your potential employer. That is why the main objective of your application materials is to set you apart from other candidates and to highlight that you are the most appropriate person for this job. Think carefully of the skills to add to resume as they are the main indicator of your professionalism. All the information you provide there has to answer the question, “How will the company benefit from hiring you?”.
One of the most popular searches online is the ‘different types of skills for resume’. Thus, in this article, we have created a detailed guide on these different types of skills that should be included so that you have the best possible options to choose from.
Why you need to customize your resume skills section
Let’s start with a clear definition of the resume skills section. Basically, it is a list of your abilities, skills and talents, displayed through a series of bullet points. You may have already mentioned some of them while describing your work experience, but in this section, you can include them in a list to highlight your strengths.
When thinking of skills to list on a resume skills section, keep in mind that there could be a few different types of skills:
- Transferable. Skills that were learned in one field and might be applicable for the current job opening. Such a list helps to describe how you deal with people (negotiations) or big amounts of data (analytical mindset). For example, the communications skills you gained as an english teacher abroad may help you succeed in a nursing role. Or, the quantitative skills you have developed through an accounting job may help you in another finance-related profession.
- Adaptive. This type describes your personal skills and helps to determine the style of your work. Here you can include something like reliability or productivity.
Remember that your potential employer will take under a minute to look through your resume. Therefore, you don’t need to create a huge exhaustive list. Pick 12 or 15 essentials that best describe you.
As an example, let’s take a quick look at the skills section of Steve Brooks, sales executive:
Going further, you can also provide your level of experience (beginner, intermediate, expert) or any additional information that will add to the credibility of your skills.
It is very important to be honest and impartial, because once you are offered an interview, you will have to prove all of these claims to be true.
Best skills to put on your resume to make it look outstanding
You will never be given a second chance to make a first impression. So, let’s dig deeper to discover what exactly to put on your resume and how to formalize the information. First of all, you need to divide all your qualifications into two groups: hard and soft skills.
What to include in hard skills?
Hard skills describe the specific knowledge and competence required to do your job. For a Marketing Manager position, this could be the ability to work with Google Analytics, setting up advertising campaigns in Google Tag Manager or conducting A/B tests. This information block is crucial for any work that is related to exact sciences such as information technologies or engineering. However, hard skills are not limited to technical fields, and can even be included in a resume for creative vacancies. For example, for an acting resume, you can include your talent in mimicking different accents.
Below you can find a list of typical hard skills used by applicants:
- SEO Copywriting
- Financial Planning
- UX/UI Design
- Foreign Languages
- Software Architecture
Reading these statements is an everyday task for HR managers, so try to be more specific and distinguish yourself when including these skills:
Good at foreign languages.
Proficient in English and French, fluent in Dutch and German.
What to include in soft skills?
Soft skills are also known as personal or social skills. There is a common fallacy that soft skills are not as important as hard skills because they are not directly related to job responsibilities. However, they are very important for corporate culture, and play an integral role in helping your employer distinguish candidates. Soft skills let the employer know which candidate would make for a better fit with company’s values and overall environment. These skills are also extremely important for any position which is heavily dependent on human interaction. For example, if you are applying to a job as a caregiver, your employer will want to know how you are as a person, beyond your qualifications.
Such skills are harder to prove or demonstrate by describing in the areas of competence, but you will definitely be given the chance to do so at your interview.
This is what candidates often put into this section:
- Ability to learn
To prove your soft skills you can add a 3-5 words description to each skill if needed. For instance, as a Marketing Manager, you can add: “Growth mindset: Mastered coding basics to set up analytics without programmers”.
Where to put skills on resume?
So, you have picked up a list of your skills. Everything looks impressive and you have never felt so confident before. Now you need to cut this long list to just the essentials. How will you figure out which of these skills are essential for your job opening?
Our advice may sound silly, but it often works:
To pick up hard skills, read the job description carefully once more and find the skills that would prove your ability to do this job effectively. For soft skills, you can also look through the company’s website or search for trends in the field. This may help you understand the common values within the industry.
It is recommended that you include information about your areas of competence on the top of your resume, right after the summary.
How to organize the information
Organizing your skills in a list of bullet points has proven to be the most visually appealing and easy to read. If you have anywhere between 12 and 15 skills, then you can simply add them into columns without a description. If you would like to provide additional details for each skill, then your list should be much shorter to accommodate for the descriptions.
Also do not forget to logically arrange your list and keep skills related to the same topic together.
If you want, there is also the option of dividing the skills section into several groups, such as technical and additional skills as in the example of Teri Harford, HR Manager’s resume:
Clever ways to make a list of skills for a resume - proven tips
As it was mentioned above, it is crucial to make your resume look different from others (in a good way of course!). With every step, you need to keep it logical, relevant to the position and avoid cliche.
To help you describe your common skills, we have created a list of examples to aid you in your resume customization.
How to describe interpersonal and communication skills
Communication is a very valuable skill. In fact, if it is not a strength of yours, you will need to work on it. Almost every field of activity nowadays requires all three categories of communication: speaking, writing and listening.
You may use these a sample from this list in your resume:
- The ability to establish and maintain long-term relationships with business partners and customers.
- Foster communication between team members to provide updates about the project and make sure that the whole team is on the same page.
- Brilliant public speaking skills that help to represent the company at conferences and meetups.
- The ability to decompose the company’s global strategy into parts and deliver the relevant information to each department.
- Strong diplomatic skills in resolving critical situations inside the team and the ability to neutralize conflicts effectively.
Phrases to describe leadership and management skills
Even if you are applying to a position that does not require management skills now, every employer prefers to hire active people that can manage a team if needed. Also, these skills can help to show you are an ambitious individual and have the potential to progress to a managerial position.
Use these points to showcase your leadership and management skills:
- Helping colleagues to follow their personal development plans, supporting their career growth.
- Having strong problem-solving and decision-making skills and the ability to take the responsibility of achieving goals for the team.
- Strong knowledge of management tools and the ability to choose the best set for a particular team and their goals.
- Effective delegating and transferring responsibilities to the right team members.
- Having coaching skills to inspire and motivate those around me.
- Great organizational skills to regulate people, processes, and events.
Phrases to describe technical/computer skills
Today, most vacancies require candidates to have knowledge of computer programs, namely Numbers (Excel), Pages (MS Word), Keynote (PowerPoint) and to also have basic skills of internet navigation. Moreover, most companies use some software tools such as Jira or Basecamp to manage team work.
Nowadays, the ability to type a document is an essential and entry-level skill that is expected from almost all employees. Unless you are able to say that you are extremely proficient with MS Word or any other software from the MS Office suite, there is no need to mention your knowledge of the program.
Here are some examples for your resume:
- Expert in Spreadsheets like Google Excel. Can create macros and organize large amounts of data.
- A solid experience in conducting dynamic presentations in PowerPoint for customers’ and companies’ needs.
- A proficiency level of organizing the environment and setting up workflows for working teams in Jira Atlassian.
- Basic knowledge of photo editing tools such as Photoshop. Able to edit materials for blog posts and publications in social media.
Time management skills outline
Time management is an extremely important skill in the modern world. It is hard to overestimate the ability to prioritize, set the goals, plan your day and focus. These skills are relevant for any field and level of experience.
Use some of these phrases to demonstrate your skills:
- Creating and making sure deadlines are met by the team.
- Organizing and sticking to time frames of the project.
- Ability to manage appointments and meetings.
- Making complex schedules for projects.
- Ability to prioritize workflow, and delegate tasks for parallel execution.
- Perfect skill of self control that was developed during my three-years freelance experience.
- Experience working with time-tracking programs.
How to specify language skills
It goes without saying that the candidate needs to have a proficient level of knowledge in the native language of the place of employment. However, adding foreign languages to the resume skills section may indicate to the HR manager that you are spending time investing in yourself. Most recruiters would be impressed to find a few additional languages, even if the level of knowledge is basic or intermediate.
Here are common terms to describe the level of your knowledge:
- Basic: You took a college course and can catch up some phrases and build simple sentences and grammar structures.
- Conversational: You can’t speak fluently, but are able to carry a general conversation.
- Proficient: This term means that you can speak and write fluently. Most of the candidates overestimate their knowledge by adding a proficient level in their resume.
- Fluent: Adding this to the resume, you claim to speak, write and read mostly at a level comparable to native speakers.
How to define analytical thinking and expertise in research
People with analytical skills are able to investigate a problem and find a creative solution. This is why every employer wants to hire a person who can use clear and logical judgments to find and explain the key points from large amounts of data.
Excellent showcasing of these skills could be your advantage over others. Here are some samples:
- Ability to analyze vast information arrays and identify key points.
- Thought “out of the box” to find unconventional solutions.
- Implemented the technology of machine learning and predictive analytics.
- Trendwatching for defining a strategic vector of development and new business opportunities.
- Ability to present complex information structures in a clear and simple form
- Proactive approach in discovering operational weaknesses and preventing future problems.
- Knowledge of various analytical tools and instruments.
Phrases to illustrate problem solving skill
Let’s be honest, problems are an integral part of any process. Sometimes they appear in the form of a simple misunderstanding inside the team, or the delay of a new product release. Especially in service orientated businesses, there will always be unsatisfied clients. Being stable and calm when everything goes wrong is more than just a skill - it is a gift. Any employer values employees who can keep calm and solve these issues.
These phrases might help you to emphasize your skills:
- Analyzing factors that are causing the problem to prevent similar situations from occurring again in the future.
- Ability to stay calm in stressful situations.
- Foster the support of all team members to create a positive spirit and to resolve any controversial situations.
- Ability to break down problems into small parts and create a step-by-step anti-crisis plan
- Readiness to decide between possible options and carry on responsibility with a decision.
How to illustrate organization skills
Having organization skills means that you can control your own workflow and can demonstrate planning, prioritizing and solving problems. Such a skill is useful for all positions, from management to entry-level.
These examples might be handy for you to showcase this skill:
- Able to focus on multiple projects without losing focus.
- Setting up schedules, appointments and meetings, making all necessary travel arrangements.
- Prioritizing workflow by getting the most important tasks completed first.
- Coordinating both internal and external resources of the company.
- Coordinating and executing internal and external events, meetings, meetups, and conferences.
- Can-do proactive approach to new challenges.
- Keeping all project documentation structured and organized.
Phrases to describe the skill of independence
Being independent while performing daily routine tasks is another important skill that every recruitment manager will be happy to find in your resume. This skill doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not a team player, but that you are confident in your own abilities and will take the initiative to work on your own.
To highlight this skill you may use these phrases:
- Able to create tasks and achieve results without the need for continuous supervision from the manager.
- Informing the manager about the problem, while always trying to come up with a prepared list of solutions.
- Always seeking answers without asking for guidance or help. Seeking for advice only when there is lack of information.
- Continuously self-studying and improving work skills to perform tasks faster without help.
- Able to work independently and remotely to complete reports and keep the whole team updated.
Phrases to show that you are proactive
When saying that you enjoy taking initiative, you basically claim to have almost all the skills mentioned above.
These phrases will help you to demonstrate your skills:
- Using a proactive approach to bring innovations to the company.
- Testing new tools and instruments to improve productivity.
- Thinking “outside the box” to deliver more than the minimum requirement for the task.
- Volunteering in internal events of the company.
- Creating a personal development plan with a manager and following it to perform better KPIs.
- Ready to be involved in tasks that are not directly related to my zone of responsibility.
- Always trying to optimize processes workflows.
- Ready to help colleagues in case of any emergency situation.
Use some examples from your previous experience to reinforce your claim.
How to highlight special skills
Special skills are often used in resumes for acting jobs. For less creative professions, job applicants often add their hobbies or volunteering activities. This can help to reveal different sides of their personalities and demonstrate that they share similar values and vision as the company. In some cases, this section can even become a decisive one. For instance, if you are applying to a lifestyle startup, it would be a plus to add hobbies like yoga or jogging.
For an acting resume, you can use one of the following if applicable:
- Describe singing abilities, the timbre of voice, and music style.
- Dancing skills are also a plus. Whether you were doing ballet in high school or even attempted flamenco class, add it in your description. It is also appropriate to add sports hobbies. This will indicate that you are in a good shape.
- Oratory talents are crucial for an actor unless you are performing in a silent movie. Also, you can add your talent in imitating different accents.
- Playing any musical instrument is also a plus. Even if you are still at an amatory level, you will look natural when acting in the role of a musician.
Takeaway to start editing the skills section of resume
The skills section of your resume is a crucial factor to whether you are invited to an interview or not. On the outset, this task seems to be a difficult one. However, you should keep in mind that you are only describing yourself. Nobody knows your strengths better than you do. So be confident and objective. Don’t underestimate your possibilities, but also do not add things you don’t really know how to do. When an employer detects the lie, you will be in an awkward and weak position.
If you have faced any difficulties while preparing your resume, our professional writers will help you to complete this task and get the job that you really deserve to have.