Best Skills to put on Your Resume to Stand Out From the Crowd

With so many people looking for work, it’s important to make the best impression with one or two pages as quickly as possible. Knowing the best skills to put on your resume and the best way to present them will make an enormous difference in your job search. Competition for landing a prized position is fierce, so it’s important that your resume be carefully written to land that job.

By carefully written, we mean that it’s tailored to the position. Don’t be fooled by titles. Every position is different. Your resume needs to highlight the specific skills that you bring to the company. How you highlight those skills can play a role in not only landing the job but also when negotiating the salary.

By skills, we mean both the technical and interpersonal abilities you’ll need as a successful hire. When you’re a qualified applicant, it can be hard to choose which skills to put on your resume.

Need to skip ahead? Here’s what this article covers:

The Best Skills to Include on Your Resume
Hard Skills Vs. Soft Skills: Which is Better
Are Transferable Skills the Same as Soft Skills
Preferred Job Skills for Remote Positions
Identifying Your Skills
How to Match Your Skills to the Job Description
On Creating a Skills Section
How to Stand Out as a Job Applicant by Incorporating Skills Throughout Your Resume
Ways to Include Skills on Your Resume When You Don’t Have Experience
What NOT to do with Skills on Your Resume

 

The Best Skills to Include on Your Resume

The best skills to include on your resume are those that fit the industry, the position, and the company’s values. That is going to likely be a mixture of soft and hard skills, and some of those may be transferable skills. If you’re looking to change careers or industries completely, transferable skills are going to be your highest priority. When you work in a fast-moving industry like computer technology, you may need to have the latest certification in a highly sought computer skill.  If you’re trying to get a higher role in a specific industry when you already have experience, then having the right certifications or degree isn’t a big concern. Therefore, you’re going to need to show soft skills that will stand out. It’s important to match your skills on your resume to your specific situation. Keep it relevant!

The most in-demand skills across all industries in the United States are:

          • Multitasking – Many jobs require employees to multitask and handle multiple responsibilities at once. It also requires people to be able to focus on one task without neglecting anything else.
          • Adaptability – With technology and society changing faster than ever, it’s essential that employees learn how to keep up. Whether it’s with continuous learning or adapting to new technology, it’s essential that jobseekers show that they’re able to adapt.
          • Emotional Intelligence – after the pandemic, being sensitive to other people’s situations and opinions can’t be overstated.
          • Communication – With more people working remotely than ever, it’s vital that clear communication be maintained. Whether it’s about working together as a team or clearly understanding instructions, being able to clearly communicate, either verbally or written, will always be an essential skill.

That being said, this is a list of is currently wanted on average, across all industries.  Yours may be looking for this and much more. It’s important that you hit as many of their desired skills as possible.

 

Hard Skills Vs. Soft Skills: Which is Better

First, it’s important to cover hard skills versus soft skills. Hard skills are solid (or hard) skills that can be measured and are usually specific to that position. These technical skills are usually what employers look for first. For instance, an aircraft technician must have experience working on aircraft. Software developers may need to have experience using specific software. Showing off hard skills can be done by showing a certification, a language, software experience, or using a number to measure your past success. Either you have the hard skills necessary or you don’t. These are easily listed under the job description’s requirements. Some examples include:

          • Computer programming languages
          • Certifications
          • Foreign languages
          • Math skills
          • Google Suite

Soft skills, on the other hand, are harder to prove but can be transferred from one job to another, regardless of industry. For instance, no one wants to work with someone who can’t get along with other people, which is why people skills or communication skills are so important. It can be more difficult to advertise proof of your own soft skills, but that will be covered in the job description section.

Here are some examples of the most valued soft skills:

          • Communication skills
          • Creativity
          • Time management skills
          • Teamwork skills
          • Collaboration skills
          • Problem-solving skills
          • Organizational skills
          • Problem-solving skills
          • Administrative skills
          • Decision-making skills

Most employers are looking for a mix of hard and soft skills, so it’s best to have both on your resume. We will go into how to figure out which ones the job description is looking for and how to highlight them on your resume a little later on. The next important question is which transferable skills should you highlight?

 

Are Transferable Skills the Same as Soft Skills

These skills can be either hard skills or soft skills. Transferable skills are defined only as skills that can be transferred from one industry to another. For example, having problem-solving skills (soft skill) and being bilingual (hard skill) is useful in multiple industries. Other hard skills like general college degrees such as Business or Communications, Microsoft Office skills, and HTML skills are in high demand for a wide variety of positions.

The best skills to put on your resume when you’re changing careers is anything in the transferable category. You need to show why you’d be a great hire, even when the industry or position might seem not to match with your previous experience. Anyone looking to change to a new industry or line of work needs to show their transferable skills front and center to prove why they should be given a chance. It’s easy for hiring managers to go off of your past job titles, which is why these skills can make all the difference.

Some of the most in-demand transferable skills are:

          • Problem-solving
          • Leadership
          • Adaptability
          • Teamwork
          • Communication
          • Attention to detail
          • Computer skills
          • Professionalism and a strong work ethic

 

Preferred Job Skills for Remote Positions

Perhaps you’re looking to find a remote job. The most common skills required for a remote position probably won’t be surprising. It’s essential for those hiring you to know that you’re going to get the work done without being micromanaged.

Remote jobs require skills such:

          • Computer skills
          • Time and Task Management
          • Ability to work independently
          • Written and verbal communication
          • Ability to use tools, such as Zoom, Skype, Dropbox, Google Suite, etc.
          • Comfortable using technology
          • Self-motivated

If you have these skills and are looking for a remote position, it’s essential that you make that clear up-front.

Apply to Remote or On-Site Jobs

 

Identifying Your Skills

Figuring out what skills to put on your resume can often be the hardest part. Before writing your resume, it helps to make a quick list of what skills you have and are relevant to the position you want. Keep in mind that most employers use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to remove any unqualified applicants. Therefore it’s important that you are specific in your list. For instance, if you have experience using Salesforce, you’ll want to use that exact name instead of a more general term.

Questions that our recruiters use to help people figure out their skills:

          • What specific tools/programs have you used in the past?
          • What kind of position like this one have you had before where you were successful? If you were hiring for that position, what skills would that person need?
          • What computer programs are you comfortable using? Are you comfortable taking a skill assessment test?
          • Have you led any group projects or worked as part of a team? Do you have an example?
          • Have you worked independently and do you have an example?

Make sure that your list is relevant to your current situation. If your resume is full of irrelevant information, it can easily become too long and be passed over, and it could be a problem for the applicant tracking system to read it correctly. In searching for skills, it’s important to consider what that employer is looking for.

If you’re not sure that your skills match the jobs that you’d like to apply to, look up similar jobs to see what skillsets people are hiring. If you have at least 80%, it’s worth applying.

 

How to Match Your Skills to the Job Description

When glancing through a job description, you’ll probably see two or three key skills mentioned several times. Those are your keywords and the main skills they’re hiring for. If you have them, put those skills at the top.

If you’re trying to break into a whole new industry instead of a specific company, then research is your friend. Lookup multiple job posts for that position and see what everyone generally is looking for. Companies hiring for a web developer can vary widely, but nearly every web developer needs to know some HTML, CSS, Javascript, and PHP. If you have these skills, it’s important to list them so that your resume gets past the applicant tracking system. Writing “web design coding languages” won’t be enough.

However, if you’re looking to get a job at a specific company, it’s important that your resume match what they’re looking for. It can be worthwhile to check out their latest news, blog posts, and the tone of other job postings so that you can have that extra edge over the competition. Mimicking the language of the job posting can also make a difference. For instance, if the position requires “creating long-form content”, then writing “wrote articles” isn’t going to cut it. The words in a job opening are carefully chosen. Tailor your resume to include the specific phrases if you possess those skills, and be sure to include them in your cover letter as well.

If the place you’re applying to seems to have a specific mood on their website, it can help to match your cover letter to that mood. When the company makes a point of telling you everyone likes hiking and dogs, if it’s true, you can include that on your resume under hobbies to show you’d be a great culture fit. Company websites that are overly professional demonstrate the mood that they will be expecting from you in return. Do your research!

 

On Creating a Skills Section

When you write a resume, it’s important to keep it short and to the point. Your skills section should be two or three columns wide and just above your professional experience. They should be a bulleted list, which will be easier for the ATS and hiring manager to scan.  Complete sentences will be in your work history, not your skill section. This is also an excellent place to include any keywords you’ve identified.

If you have scanned that job description enough, you should be able to figure out what three or four key skills they’re looking for. Be sure to put those at the top of your bullet list and reinforce them with specific examples in your work history.

Here are some examples of what professionals from different types of industries could list:

Accounting Positions

Accountants and related positions are expected to crunch numbers and large amounts of data and give that information to people outside of accounting. Skills that are common:

          • Microsoft Excel
          • Data analytics
          • Analytical and problem solving
          • Revenue recognition
          • Risk and compliance
          • Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)

Find Accounting Jobs

Office or Data Center Positions

Hiring managers generally look for at least:

          • Type 60 words per minute/data entry skills
          • Answering phones
          • Communication
          • Microsoft Office
          • Positive attitude
          • Time management skills
          • Calendar management
          • Databases
          • Spreadsheet software

Find Administrative Jobs

Engineering and Technical Positions

As engineering and technical positions can vary widely, here is a short sample of popular requirements depending on the industry.

          • Programming languages
          • Data Structures
          • Data Security
          • Cloud management
          • Computer Aided Design (CAD)
          • UX/UI
          • Testing and Debugging
          • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
          • Adobe Photoshop

Find Engineering Jobs

 

How to Stand Out as a Job Applicant by Incorporating Skills Throughout Your Resume

Keep in mind that your skills should be included in the rest of your resume sections, such as your job history and volunteer activities. The more specific you can be will help define exactly what your skills are and help the hiring manager see the context. This will give you more leverage over any of your competition who might be vague.

For example, communication is a skill that is required for nearly every position in every industry but can be presented in a multitude of ways. Focusing how on your public speaking, writing, or communication with leaders improved overall results will showcase your skills.

          • Wrote a weekly blog post that raised the company’s website SEO by 30%
          • Gave presentations in 10 company webinars, which reached an audience average of 2,000 per session

Using specifics will reinforce the bulleted list that started your resume. After all, anyone can list a skill on their resume but proving it and showing results really makes all the difference. It cannot be underestimated how much of a difference quantifying your results makes to a hiring manager. The difference between “fast typist” and “types 70 words a minute” gives a definite result that allows the hiring manager to determine if that’s considered fast typing. This allows them to know before interviewing what results to expect if they hired you.

 

Ways to Include Skills on Your Resume When You Don’t Have Experience

What if you don’t have any experience? Some college students have this dilemma when they’re just starting out. In that case, it’s useful to not only list your skills in a skill section but also include some specific classes you’ve taken that are related to the position. Including any specialty training or internships should also be included in your job history with the same specific description, including numbers and definitive proof of your skills. If you graduated with a GPA of 3.5 or above, it’s worth mentioning. Be sure to include any certificates as well.

If you’re changing industries, be sure to list any relevant certificates, volunteer work, or internships. Referencing any relevant experience in your cover letter will also help the hiring managers understand why you’re applying. Saying why you’re changing careers in your cover letter and showing how you’re qualified on your resume will make all the difference between getting an interview or not.

It’s still essential that you give as many specifics as you can about your successful training. Including grades or taking online assessments is one of the few ways that you can show your skills in a concrete manner without experience.

 

What NOT to do with Skills on Your Resume

Don’t exaggerate or lie on your resume. Giving in to the temptation to inflate a job title, add a job certificate or degree that you don’t have, or embellish the length of time you worked somewhere won’t help you. Resumes are checked for a reason and many companies will end employment with anyone who has been hired under false pretenses.

Don’t be vague. Forgetting to put in numbers or strong descriptions of what you’ve done is going to stop you from outshining someone else. You’ll be keeping yourself from getting the very best job and could be cutting into your own negotiating leverage for salary.

Don’t include skills that aren’t relevant. Sometimes it can be tempting to see too much white space on a resume and start grasping at any skills you ever learned. Make sure to reread the job description and put down what is truthful and relevant.

Don’t forget to proofread. Before you send your resume anywhere, make sure to go over every single part of it. Using spellcheck isn’t always the best, because computer certifications or programming languages can be mistaken for another word that’s unrelated. Go over the entire thing and make sure the words you’re using to represent yourself are accurate.

 

By now you should have a strong idea of what skills to put on your resume. With this strategy, you can look forward to upcoming interview requests!

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