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What to Put as Skills on Your Resume: A Complete Guide

What to Put as Skills on Your Resume: A Complete Guide

When it comes to crafting a compelling resume, the skills section often holds significant weight. A well-thought-out skills list can not only catch the eyes of recruiters but also position you as the ideal candidate for the job. This article guides you through the process of deciding what skills to include, how to present them effectively, and common mistakes to avoid.

The Importance of Skills on Your Resume

Your skills are your selling points. In a competitive job market, recruiters often skim through resumes in seconds. A well-organized skills section can capture their attention and make you memorable.

Not only do your skills validate your qualifications for the role, but they also give a glimpse into your work ethic, adaptability, and potential for future growth. Including the right skills can make your resume go from good to great, pushing you into the list of candidates who get called for interviews.

Moreover, many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that scan resumes for specific keywords, often those related to skills. Including relevant skills increases the chances that your resume will pass through these automated systems and reach a human eye.

Finally, a well-curated list of skills can be a conversation starter during interviews, providing you with an opportunity to discuss your strengths in detail and how they relate to the job at hand.

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Hard Skills: What Employers Are Looking For

Hard skills are the technical abilities that are job-specific. These can include proficiency in programming languages, mastery of software applications, or expertise in project management methodologies.

In a job posting, hard skills are usually listed as the “Requirements” or “Qualifications” needed for the role. Always include the hard skills that you possess and are directly related to the job for which you’re applying. This boosts your credibility and shows that you have the fundamental competencies to perform in the role.

For example, if you’re applying for a data analysis role, skills like “SQL,” “Data Visualization,” and “Statistical Analysis” would be beneficial to include. These skills can set you apart from candidates who have a more generalist approach to their skill set.

However, just listing hard skills is not enough; back them up with examples or quantifiable results whenever possible. For instance, rather than just listing “SEO,” you might say, “Implemented SEO strategies that increased website traffic by 40%.”

Soft Skills: The Unspoken Requirements

Soft skills relate to your interpersonal abilities and are often considered just as important as technical skills. These are traits like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability.

While these skills are harder to quantify, they are vital for almost every role. Employers look for candidates who not only have the technical know-how but also the soft skills to collaborate with team members and contribute to a positive work environment.

When listing soft skills, try to think of examples where you’ve demonstrated these traits. For example, instead of merely saying “good communicator,” you could specify, “Experienced in presenting findings to cross-functional teams to facilitate decision-making.”

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It’s also beneficial to cross-reference the job description to identify any soft skills that the employer values. Include these in your resume if they genuinely reflect your abilities.

Technical Skills for the Digital Age

In the modern workplace, having some level of technical proficiency is increasingly important. Skills like data analysis, digital marketing, and even basic coding are highly desirable across various industries.

Even if you’re not in a tech-centric role, showcasing your technical abilities can make you a more versatile and valuable employee. For example, understanding how to use Microsoft Excel for data analysis can be a strong point in administrative roles.

When listing technical skills, specificity is key. Rather than writing “familiar with social media,” you could specify, “Experienced in using Facebook and LinkedIn advertising platforms to target audiences and drive campaign objectives.”

Remember to only list technical skills that you can confidently discuss and demonstrate if asked. Misrepresenting your skill level can lead to uncomfortable situations in interviews or on the job.

Industry-Specific Skills You Should Include

Certain industries have unique sets of skills that are highly valued. In healthcare, for instance, skills like patient care and medical coding are crucial, while in sales, skills like customer relationship management and lead generation are prized.

To identify which industry-specific skills you should include, look at job listings within your field and note any recurring skills that you possess. Also, consider consulting with professionals in your industry or mentors for advice.

Including industry-specific skills not only increases your chances of passing through an ATS but also indicates your dedication to your field, showcasing you as a specialized candidate rather than a generalist.

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How to Prioritize Skills on Your Resume

Once you’ve compiled a list of hard, soft, technical, and industry-specific skills, the next step is to prioritize them. Your most relevant and impressive skills should be listed first to capture the employer’s attention.

When prioritizing, think from the employer’s perspective. Which skills would be most beneficial for the role? Once you’ve identified these, place them at the top of your list.

Keep the list balanced. If you’re fresh out of college, focus on soft skills like “Quick Learner” or “Strong Work Ethic” that demonstrate your potential, along with any hard skills you’ve gained through coursework, internships, or projects.

Ensure the skills section aligns with the overall flow of your resume. It should support and complement other sections like your career summary and work experience.

Presenting Skills: The Dos and Don’ts

Presentation matters. Simply listing skills haphazardly won’t do you any favors. Use a clean, organized layout, and consider using bullet points for readability.

Be specific and use action verbs where possible. Instead of “good at sales,” opt for “Proven track record in exceeding sales targets.”

Avoid clich├ęs and buzzwords like “go-getter,” “synergy,” and “jack-of-all-trades.” These terms are overused and offer little insight into your actual abilities.

Lastly, always be truthful. It’s easy for employers to verify your skills through assessments, references, or practical tasks. Misrepresenting your skill set can harm your credibility and cost you opportunities.


Your resume is a showcase of your abilities, and the skills section plays a pivotal role in demonstrating your suitability for a role. Make it a point to carefully curate this section to stand out in the competitive job market. With a well-prepared skills list, you’re one step closer to landing your dream job. Good luck!

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