The skills section of your resume provides a succinct snapshot of your most relevant professional competencies. Learn to effectively present your capabilities on your resume through insights and examples of key skills, elevating your application for your dream job.

Understanding the Skills Section

The purpose of the skills section

The skills section is a powerful tool to present a comprehensive view of your abilities and awareness of the qualifications for your desired role. Apart from your work history and academic achievements, you can directly signal your unique areas of expertise. By strategically positioning this section, you can deliver a compelling narrative that aligns seamlessly with the target job description.

Hard skills vs. soft skills

Leveraging the skills section requires an understanding of both hard and soft skills. Hard skills are tangible, quantifiable abilities acquired through education or training, while soft skills encompass interpersonal and emotional intelligence. Balancing both types showcases technical capabilities and your ability to navigate interpersonal and team dynamics – an attribute typically valued by employers.

Customizing your skills section for the job

Customization is critical for a compelling skills section. Tailoring your resume to align with the specific job description not only captures the recruiter’s attention but significantly enhances your chances of navigating through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Infusing your skills section with relevant keywords from the job posting ensures your resume mirrors the company’s needs, a critical step in the recruiting process.

How To List Skills on a Resume

Identifying your key skills

Self-assessment lays the foundation for a robust skills section. Reflect on your professional and personal experiences, identifying skills that resonate with the job requirements. Acknowledge your top achievements to pinpoint unique strengths and form your value proposition for a potential employer.

Organizing skills effectively

For clarity, organize your skills by relevance to the job, differentiating between technical proficiencies and soft skills. Consider organizing them by functional categories or expertise level, enabling recruiters to quickly identify your core competencies.

Quantifying skills where possible

To substantiate your skills, integrate measurable achievements into the experience section of your resume. Quantifiable results not only lend credibility but also provide concrete evidence of your impact in previous roles. Utilize dollar amounts, numbers, and percentages to highlight your contributions.

Examples of skill listings

Skills are often listed in a table format with two or three vertical columns. They can also be listed in a paragraph format separated by vertical lines. Alternatively, you might create a bullet point for a group of skills listed with commas.

List of Key Skills For Resume

Top hard skills

    • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): Understanding and application of AI and ML concepts, including algorithm development and statistical modeling
    • Coding/programming: Writing, testing, and debugging code in programming languages such as Python, Java, C++, or others
    • Customer relationship management (CRM): Managing and analyzing customer interactions and data to improve relationships and drive business growth
    • Data analysis: Analyzing and interpreting complex data sets to inform business decisions. Proficiency in tools like Excel, SQL, and data visualization software
    • Digital marketing: Implementing online marketing strategies, including social media management, SEO, email marketing, and digital advertising
    • Foreign language proficiency: Fluency in a second language, which can enhance communication and collaboration in globalized industries
    • Project management: Planning, organizing, and overseeing projects from initiation to completion, and familiarity with project management tools and methodologies
    • Video production: Creating and editing video content for marketing, training, or informational purposes, plus proficiency in video editing software

See additional examples of hard skills by industry.

Top soft skills

    • Adaptability and flexibility: Being open to change and adapting to new circumstances and environments, and a willingness to learn and embrace new technologies
    • Communication skills: Conveying information clearly and effectively in written or verbal form, including active listening, articulating ideas, and tailoring communication for different audiences
    • Creativity and innovation: Thinking outside the box, generating new ideas, and finding inventive solutions
    • Critical thinking: Evaluating information objectively from multiple perspectives, making reasoned judgments, and approaching issues with a logical mindset
    • Emotional intelligence: Recognizing and managing one’s emotions and understanding and empathizing with others, contributing to effective communication and relationship-building
    • Leadership: Inspiring and guiding others to achieve common goals through decision-making, delegation, and motivating and mentoring team members
    • Solution-finding: The capacity to analyze situations, identify challenges, and develop effective solutions, as employers value individuals who can find innovative ways to overcome obstacles
    • Teamwork and collaboration: Working effectively with others towards common goals through cooperation, compromise, and contributing positively to group dynamics
    • Time management: Efficiently organizing and prioritizing tasks to meet deadlines by setting goals, planning, and allocating resources effectively

See additional examples of soft skills.

Technical skills for today’s job market

Given the rapid advancements in technology, possessing in-demand technical skills is crucial. In areas such as information technology (IT), data analysis, and digital marketing, staying abreast of the latest tools and technologies is crucial to staying competitive in the job market.

Tailoring Your Skills Section: A Step-by-Step Guide

Review the job description carefully

The job description is your roadmap for skills customization. Review it thoroughly to discern the keywords for skills and qualifications sought by the employer. Tailoring your skills section and keywords to mirror these requirements positions you as an ideal candidate and increases your chances for an interview.

Prioritize your skills based on the job requirements

Effective prioritization is key. Highlight only your skills that align most closely with the job’s top prerequisites. By doing so, you ensure that recruiters immediately recognize your suitability for the role and are not overwhelmed with too much information.

Use keywords and phrases from the job listing

With the prevalence of ATS, the integration of exact phrases and keywords from the job posting is vital. This not only increases the chances of your resume passing through automated checks but also enhances its impact on human recruiters.

Common Mistakes To Avoid in Your Skills Section

When adding skills to your resume, be mindful of common pitfalls. Overgeneralizing skills, including irrelevant ones, or resorting to keyword stuffing can undermine the effectiveness of your resume. Maintain focus on authenticity, relevance, and clarity to avoid these stumbling blocks and ensure your skills section stands out for all the right reasons.

Enhancing Your Resume With Additional Resources

Professional development opportunities

Continual learning is important in today’s rapidly changing job market. Consider investing time in online courses, workshops, and seminars to acquire new skills and stay ahead of industry trends. This commitment to professional development not only enhances your skill set but also demonstrates your dedication to staying current in your field.

Leveraging professional networks

Engaging with professional networks can provide valuable insights into in-demand skills. Participation in associations, conferences, and mentorships within these networks offers opportunities to learn about emerging trends and gain firsthand knowledge from industry experts. The connections made through these networks can also open doors to potential job opportunities and collaborations.

Andrew Stoner

Executive Resume Writer and Career Coach

Andrew Stoner is an executive career coach and resume writer with 17 years of experience as a hiring manager and operations leader at two Fortune 500 Financial Services companies, and as the career services director at two major university business schools.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Listing Your Skills in Your Resume

How many skills should be included on a resume?

It is best to feature the skills most pertinent to the target job, aiming for a range of 10 to 15 skills on your resume.

Should skills be positioned at the top or bottom of a resume?

For technical roles, place the skills section near the top of the resume. In less technical roles, it's recommended to place skills towards the bottom of the resume.

Do employers care about skills on a resume?

Skills can be one of the most important factors on a resume for both digital and human review.