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Selecting Skills for Your Resume

Once you’ve grabbed the attention of a hiring manager with a compelling resume summary or objective, it’s time to show your qualifications by listing your relevant skills. Thoroughly reading and understanding the job description will ensure that you don’t miss including any pre-requisite skills. From there, you can craft a mix of hard skills and soft skills to set you apart from the rest of the applicants. 

No doubt you’re a very skilled individual, but sharing your top qualifications in a way that is tailored to a particular position can be tricky. Read on for some tips for choosing the right skills, how to format your list of skills and a description of different types of skills to include on your resume. 

Hard Skills

You may have heard of the concept of hard versus soft skills, but might not actually know what each entails. Hard skills are technical qualifications that are required for a particular job. You typically garner hard skills through education, certification programs or experience from other jobs. Think of these as quantifiable skills. As with your summary and objective, you can work to ensure you are hitting the right hard skills in your resume by closely reading the job description. Prerequisite skills will likely be called out early in the job posting. For example, when applying for a graphic design job, you’ll want to be sure to reference knowledge of different design programs (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) Some other common examples of hard skills include:

Proficiency with software  Design Coding  Web Development  Foreign Languages  Writing  Social Media Strategy  Microsoft Office  Accounting/Finance  Data Analytics  SEO/SEM

Both hard and soft skills are important in a resume as when combined, they make for a well-rounded employee. Because of the to-the-point, quantifiable nature of hard skills, you can choose to format them in a bulleted list (while soft skills can be woven through your summary and experience sections). 

Soft Skills

Soft skills are qualitative skills that make you the right fit for a given job. While hard skills are gained through formal training, soft skills are more innate and harder to develop. Having hard skills is key, but soft skills are just as essential in making you a standout applicant. Certain soft skills will be more desirable for different positions, however, many of them are universally sought after by hiring managers. Some examples of soft skills include:

Communication skills Leadership experience  Customer service  Strategic thinking  Problem-solving Detail-oriented Time-management  Proficient at managing multiple deadlines  Active listening  Organization Team player  Interpersonal skills

Resume Skills Best Practices 

Once you’ve dialled your list of skills, there are some important tips to remember when building the skills section of your resume:

  • Echo language used in the job description in your skills section 

  • Make sure all your skills and certifications are up-to-date

  • Make your skills section concise and easy to digest. You may be one of thousands of applicants so you want to do everything you can to quickly grab the attention of the hiring manager 

  • Your list should be personal and unique. Tailor skills to previous experience and call out specific projects and training. You don’t want your list of skills to be something any applicant could present 

  • Group similar skills together—Hard, soft, certifications, software, etc.

  • Back skills up with experience and quantitative details wherever possible—for example, instead of leadership skills, use led a team of 25 creatives 

Transferable Skills

There are some skills that can be used on almost any resume, as they are valuable to all workplaces. The majority of these skills are soft and are gained through experience, time and mentorship. These transferable skills can be woven into your resume summary and skils section. Some commonly used, desirable transferable skills are:

Driven  Goal-oriented  Integral  Compassionate Forward-thinking  Creativity  Empathetic  Able to work under pressure

How to Choose Resume Skills 

Refining and choosing your list of skills can be difficult, especially with the goal of standing out amongst the crowd. If you are stumped on your skills, read on for a few things to do to select your list:

  • Lean on a former manager, peer or direct report—they may be able to provide an outside perspective on your skills that you might not have personally 

  • Review resumes from other people in your field to assess the skills they are commonly using 

  • Leverage the job description 

  • Think about any awards you’ve received or projects that have gone well with other roles—what skills were required?

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