Are you struggling to convince recruiters that you’re the right person for the job? Fitting your strengths and experience on a one-page resume is challenging.
You’re not alone! Many people struggle to showcase their skills and abilities to catch a hiring manager’s attention.
Luckily, there’s an easy trick to show you’re an excellent match for the position. Adding a skills section to your resume is a concise way to showcase your expertise and abilities in a skimmable way.
Even if a recruiter only spends a few seconds scanning your resume, this short section can be impactful. Here’s how to create an effective skills section of your resume.
- What Is the Skills Section of a Resume?
- Do You Need Skills on a CV?
- What Are the Important Elements of the Skills Section of Your Resume?
- What Should You Put in the Skills Section?
- How to Add Skills to Your Resume
- Wrapping Up
What Is the Skills Section of a Resume?
The skills section of a resume is typically a short list with four to six entries. These entries can reflect personal traits, abilities you acquired at a previous job, and other unique attributes.
Do You Need Skills on a CV?
Listing your skills is a common practice. If you decide to leave this section out, you’re taking the risk of submitting a resume that might feel incomplete.
With more recruiters relying on software to scan resumes, your skills section gives you the opportunity to incorporate some important keywords.
And if a human scans your resume, this short section will stand out and immediately tell them what makes you qualified for the job.
Why Put Skills on Your CV?
The work history section is typically what takes up the most space on a resume. Recruiters will often skim this section, but the skills section of a resume acts as a reminder of the abilities you acquired or demonstrated in your previous positions.
Your skills can also help you stand out from other applicants by focusing on abilities others don’t have.
What Are the Important Elements of the Skills Section of Your Resume?
A skills section should feel relevant to the position. It should also be an honest reflection of your strengths and abilities, and you should use different types of skills to paint a comprehensive picture.
Hard skills refer to concrete abilities you developed in school or on the job. These skills are usually easy to measure, and they refer to abilities candidates either have or don’t have.
Examples include math skills, knowing a programming language, speaking a language, data analysis, or being familiar with Microsoft Office.
Soft skills are hard to quantify, but they’re just as valuable. They can refer to personality traits or strategies you developed to adapt and thrive at work.
Customer service and communication are common soft skills, but you can also list flexibility, leadership, creativity, attention to detail, emotional intelligence, or active listening.
Tailor your resume by including a few job-specific skills. These skills can be hard requirements, such as knowing how to operate a forklift or using formulas in Excel.
Job-specific skills can also be soft skills that will help you succeed, like solving problems creatively or engaging customers.
A good way to identify job-specific skills is to scan the job opening and pay attention to the words used to describe the position.
Experts estimate that 30% of workers change jobs every year. For many, a new job also means the start of a new career.
Transferable skills can balance out a work history section that feels limited or not directly relevant when switching careers.
For instance, someone with past retail experience can draw on their ability to interact with customers when joining a sales team.
A candidate with previous assembly line experience should leverage their ability to pay attention to details when starting a new career in data analysis.
What Should You Put in the Skills Section?
A compelling skills section needs to feel personal. It should showcase your main strengths, but it should also feel relevant and reflect what the employer is looking for.
Technical Skills of Resume
Technical skills can confirm that you meet the hard requirements an employer has. Computer-related tech skills can also portray you as a valuable candidate with digital transformation being one of the top priorities for businesses.
Any software or business app you’re comfortable with is a valuable tech skill. Operating tools and machinery or driving a vehicle are other hard skills you should include as long as they’re relevant.
Other examples include technical expertise in areas like web design, data science, technical writing, billing, food prep, or medical procedures.
Personal Skills for Resume
A majority of careers require you to interact with others. You might have to help customers, sell products to clients, or interact with a team of co-workers.
Think of how you will interact with others and which role you will have to take on. If you’re going after a leadership role, your personal skills could include work ethic, listening skills, conflict resolution, or your ability to motivate others.
The skills section of a resume of a candidate who works in customer service could list their friendly disposition, empathy, and knack for solving problems.
Skills in Resume for Freshers
As a student or recent graduate, identifying relevant skills can be challenging due to your limited work experience.
You can draw on your academic background to identify transferable skills. List technical and hard skills you learned in school, and use extracurricular activities to demonstrate your dedication and ability to become part of a team.
If you have limited work experience with an internship, summer job, or even with babysitting, list transferable skills like organizational skills, the ability to follow instructions, or interpersonal skills.
Unique Skills for Resume
What makes you stand out from other candidates? Try including at least one skill that other applicants won’t have.
It can be something about yourself, such as being bilingual, having a passion for advocating for others, or having a talent for mathematical reasoning.
You can also list unique experiences not everyone has, such as learning how to use a popular business app during an internship or becoming your organization’s OSHA expert.
Soft Skills for Resume
Don’t overlook soft skills. They can tell recruiters what kind of co-workers you will be, and how well you will adapt to new situations.
Be honest, and tailor these skills to the position and company culture. Asking yourself some questions can help you identify these strengths.
Are you more comfortable with verbal or written communication? Do you tend to bring the team together or disrupt things with new ideas? Can you focus on one thing or do you prefer multitasking?
Professional Skills Examples
An effective resume needs to convey a professional image. Besides establishing your expertise, your skills section can reflect your degree of professionalism through the wording you use.
For instance, a nurse could list patient care as a skill, but entries like patient evaluation, wound care, or intravenous therapies will convey more information and show this person is precise.
A financial advisor’s resume could include skills like communication or financial analysis but using expressions like risk analysis and enhancing financial literacy feel more professional.
Special Skills Examples
Aim to include at least one skill that will make your resume memorable. For an actor, it could be Jujutsu training.
For a preschool teacher, a background in psychology can make a resume stand out. If you’re a web designer, listing Adobe Creative and backing this skill with a certification is a plus.
Make sure to be yourself and leverage the skills section to help recruiters get to know you better while telling them what makes you unique.
How to Add Skills to Your Resume
Your skills should be noticeable without impeding your work history and other important sections.
Where to Put the Skills Section
If you’re using a Z-pattern, placing the skills at the bottom makes sense. It’s the last thing recruiters will read, and it can leave a positive impression.
If your resume uses an F-pattern, try dividing it into two columns. Create a narrow column on the side and list your skills next to the other sections.
This approach can create a direct link between your skills and your achievements or education.
How to List Your Skills
Your best option is to create a small section and use bullet points. You can name the section Skills or Highlights.
You can list four to six skills by using one or two words. You can also write a one-line description or include a reference to a relevant experience or achievement.
Some candidates add a star rating next to each skill. It’s best to avoid this practice since recruiters might not know how to interpret your rating, and it can make some skills look less valuable in comparison.
How to Write About your Skills
It’s common to see resumes that use one or two words to describe each skill. If you want to develop and tell recruiters more about your skills, you can create bullet points in your work history section and explain how you apply these skills, if possible, with measurable results.
Another option is to use adjectives to describe yourself in a way that is consistent with your top skills in the objective or summary section.
Even though the skills section is typically the shortest section on a resume, it adds considerable value and helps recruiters assess your key strengths at a glance.
Did these tips help you create a compelling skills section? Which skills do recruiters look for in your industry? Tell us in the comments!
Use these tips to create a short but effective skills section and leverage your unique abilities to convince recruiters you’re the right person for the job.