Stand Out to Employers: Master the Art of Listing Resume Skills

August 23, 2023
By Sheri Pepper

Do you know what skills you should put on your resume?  If not, take some time to establish a solid skills list, which is essential for effectively communicating your qualifications to potential employers.

According to Business Insider, many employers report that a list of relevant skills is the most important section of a resume. Even if a candidate lacks experience, some employers may see potential in applicants who possess the necessary skills.


Understand the Importance of Skills on a Resume


Because the job market is highly competitive, you need to use all the tools at your disposal to stand out among a crowd of peers vying for the same jobs. Your resume is your primary strategic marketing tool in your job search, and the skills section of your resume is pivotal in conveying your expertise and suitability for the job.


Remember that in a crowded field of applicants, it’s important to tailor your skills section to align with the job requirements. You want the employer to quickly connect the dots that your skillset will help you succeed in the job. Taking this extra step will set you up for further consideration by the hiring manager.


If you don’t have all of the required skills, you can list transferable skills and give concrete examples of accomplishments you’ve achieved by using those skills. This tactic solidifies your credibility and potential value to the organization.


Finally, remember that many organizations use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to quickly screen candidates. An ATS combs through keywords that fit the job description, and resumes lacking keywords are more likely to be discounted. By carefully ensuring your skills section includes relevant keywords, you increase your chances of getting noticed by employers.


Identify Hard Skills and Soft Skills


Job descriptions often ask for a candidate's hard skills and soft skills, and most employers seek a good blend between the two.


Hard Skills: What They Are and How to List Them


Hard skills on a resume refer to specific, measurable, or teachable abilities. These are proficiencies that  people acquire through education, training, apprenticeship, or work experience. They are typically job-specific and critical to performing particular tasks or responsibilities.


Some hard skills commonly listed on resumes include:

  • Accounting
  • Customer service software
  • Data analysis
  • Data entry
  • Digital Marketing
  • Graphic design
  • IT support
  • Legal research
  • Machine operation
  • Programming languages
  • Project management
  • Sales techniques
  • Web development

Remember to tailor the list of hard skills on your resume to match the job’s specific requirements. 


Soft Skills: What They Are and Why They Matter


Soft skills generally refer to any nontechnical talents you bring to the table and reflect how you think, interact, collaborate, and navigate professional environments.


Employers value soft skills because they contribute to a positive work culture and are crucial for effective communication, collaboration, camaraderie, and overall success in today’s workplace.


Examples of soft skills include:

  • Adaptability
  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Creativity
  • Customer service
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Work ethic

How to Tailor Your Skills to the Job Description


Tailoring your soft and hard skills to each job description is essential for optimizing your resume to match the job’s requirements.


Here are some things you can do to tailor your skills to the job description:


Identify the Required Skills


Carefully analyze and make sure you understand the job description. Identify the required skills and qualifications, paying attention to specific technical and soft skills noted. If you have a skill the employer considers “nice-to-have,” be sure to highlight your ability so you set yourself apart from those lacking similar credentials.


Create and Prioritize a List of Your Matching Skills


Compose a broad list of your skills that match those listed in the job description. Highlight the ones that seem to be most important to the job.


Next, prioritize your skills by putting the most relevant ones at the top of your resume to quickly draw the employer's attention to this important information.


Match the Language in the Job Posting


Use the same language and acronyms that are used on the job posting to ensure the organization's ATS or other filtering system picks up the words as direct keyword matches.


Do’s and Don’ts for Listing Skills on Your Resume


Think of your skillset as a potential game changer for getting your foot in the door. With these high stakes, be sure to follow a few ground rules that can make the difference on whether you’re in … or out.

  • Be accurate. Don’t exaggerate your proficiencies when listing skills.
  • Address the employer’s needs. Don’t include skills that aren't relevant to the position or organization.
  • Be specific. Don’t use vague language or generic phrases, such as "good team player."
  • Be concise. Even if you have additional relevant skills, don’t add too many above and beyond those listed in the job description.
  • Think like a computer. Don’t leave off relevant keywords, as this may cause the filter to miss your resume.
  • Provide examples. Don’t miss the opportunity to share how you have earned and used your skills.

Avoid making these mistakes by carefully proofreading your resume and having a trusted friend or other professional look at it as well.


Once your skills list and resume are customized and ready for submission, you’ll be one step closer to getting a job you will love.


If you’re looking for a new role, take a look at our open positions. Our purpose is your success!


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