18 November, 2019
By Jeff Gillis
When somebody says the word “skills” to you, what immediately comes to mind?
For most people, the answer is “things I am good at“.
Typing. Woodworking. Public speaking… Cartwheels.
Yes, all of the things listed above can be considered skills, but when it comes to the job hunt, you have to be selective as to which of these to include on your resume. Why?
Because the company you are interviewing with AND the job you are interviewing for both require a very specific set of skills in order for you to get the job done effectively.
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Filling up the skills section of your resume with a bunch of skills that have absolutely nothing to do with the job you are applying for is basically just a waste of space.
This is why it is important that you understand how to choose the correct skills to include.
There are two basic types of skill-sets that a job seeker can have and include on their resume, and those are either hard skills or soft skills.
Hard skills are the skills or abilities for a resume that are easily quantifiable…that can be learned through classroom work, apprenticeships or other forms of learning. These include things like operating tools, computer programming, speaking foreign languages or typing.
Soft skills are more subjective and harder to quantify, and are often grouped together by what we know as “people skills”. Some examples of soft skills include communication, relationship building, self-awareness and patience.
Which Skills Are More Important?
The debate rages on about which of these two types of skills are more important.
According to executive consultant and Forbes contributor Naz Beheshti, “…There is an ongoing debate about the relative importance of soft and hard skills that imply a competition between the two. However, they are both necessary and complementary to one another.”
On one hand, in a tough job market, job seekers with a proficiency in a specific hard skill may get hired more quickly as companies look to hire people that can deliver value with fewer resources (ex. the need for training, etc.).
However, we are also seeing that many hiring managers are choosing to hire candidates with highly developed soft skills.
Because they feel that they can always train the candidate in the hard skill that is required to complete the job, but soft skills are often skills that cannot necessarily be taught.
You can’t simply just pick one or the other and cross your fingers.
The best strategy is to take a balanced approach and make sure that your resume contains both hard and soft skills.
But as you’ll see later in this article, you can’t just list all of the skills you “think” you have.
There is strategy to this whole thing!
Don’t worry, we’ll show you exactly how to ensure that you list the skills that will get you the interview AND get you the job.
Here’s the deal.
You know what you’re good at. You know the things you grew up doing as a kid, or the things you learned in school (and excelled in), or the activities you did after school (ex. sports, fine arts, clubs, etc.).
So you should already have a list of things that you would consider yourself proficient in.
This is a good place to start.
Here are the steps for choosing the right skills:
1) Make a List of The Skills You Know You Have
Or better yet, take a look at the list below and make a note of the skills you have an above-average proficiency in.
List of Skills for Resume
Between hard skills and soft skills, you should have a healthy list of resume skills examples to use when applying for a job. To get you started, here is a sample list for you to pull from.
Hard Skills List
- Word Processing
- Computer Programming
- Heavy Machinery Operation
- Spanish Fluency
- Advanced Bookkeeping
- Schedule Management
- Systems Analysis
- Automotive Repair
- Environmental Cleanup
- Medical Coding
- Data Analysis
- Search Engine Optimization
- Paid Online Traffic
- Website Design
- Conversion Testing
- Electrical Engineering
Soft Skills List
- Problem Solving
- Strong Work Ethic
- Time Management
- Critical Thinking
- Handling Pressure
- Decision Making
- Conflict Resolution
- Customer Service
- Business Etiquette
Okay, so chances are you don’t necessarily have many (or even one) of the hard skills on the list, but these examples should give you an idea of the type of skills you should be thinking of.
2) “Mine” the Job Descriptions For Must-Have Skills
The next step is take a look at the job description for the position you are applying for and make a list of the required skills that are listed. Are any of the skills on both of the lists you just created? If so, these are must-haves for your resume.
Now notice if there are any skills on the job description that you don’t have. If there aren’t any, great!
But if there are…don’t panic. You just need to dig a little deeper into your past in order to demonstrate that you have the skill… more on that in a minute.
Here is a link to a ton of job descriptions that can give you an idea of the skills needed… take a look and find the position you are interviewing for!
As you may have read in our other blog articles, it is always very important to “tailor” your job interview to the company and position you are interviewing with/for (for a more in depth look on our Tailoring Method, check out our article Job Interview Questions and Answers 101). This includes your resume and the skills you include on your resume as well!
As we mentioned before, the company will have a specific set of skills that they will require the successful candidate to have in order to do the job to their standard.
So as you might have guessed, it is absolutely essential that these skills make an appearance on your resume.
You need to spend some more time researching the company, and this means going through all of their various web properties including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Because they will leave clues about the types of people they hire, which will give you a better idea of the skills that you need to include in your resume. This especially applies to soft skills.
Ask yourself this. “Do I have a similar skill-set to the types of employees they hire?”
If the answer is yes, great!
If the answer is no… read on!
And as we said before, REALLY dig into the job description to make sure you have a strong understanding of the skills that are required for the job, and make darn sure you put those skills in the skill section of your resume.
What If I Don’t Have The Required Skill?
We brought up the earlier scenario in which you didn’t necessarily have the skills required to do the job.
Here’s where you have to be honest with yourself. If the skills required are part of the core competencies of doing the job, you may want to reconsider your application.
For example, if a golf course posts a job posting for a golf pro, you probably shouldn’t apply if you’ve never swung a golf club.
Use your common sense to determine whether or not you are a suitable candidate for the job.
Quite often though you will come across a situation where it is close…where you kind of have the skill.
This is where you need to get creative (and NO we don’t mean lie).
You need to be able to demonstrate, using examples from your past, that you are capable of doing the required skill. So go over your work history with a fine-tooth comb and try to come up with a few examples of you doing the skill.
They are going to ask about it in your interview, so don’t think you can just wing it and everything will be fine.
How To List Skills on a Resume
There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to deciding where to put (or how to list) the “skills” on your resume. According to our friends over at online resume-builder Zety.com, “…skills are so very, very important that they should show up all over your resume. Not just in the resume skills section.”
In other words, it is imperative that there are elements of your skills (or “skillset” as coined by Zety) throughout your resume, including your resume objective/summary and experience sections.
In addition, there isn’t one right answer for where to include your skills, because just like everything else in the job interview world…
It depends on the industry, company and position you are interviewing with/for.
For example, for a job where technical competencies are of the utmost importance, it is often beneficial to list the skills closer to the top of the resume, right underneath the resume objective or resume summary statement.
However, if through your research you determine that the hiring manager will put more weight into your experience, you may want to lead with your experience and put the skill section further down your resume.
At the end of the day, the selection of the skills themselves (and ensuring that the right skills are chosen) is the most important thing.
After all, most hiring managers will easily find your skill section regardless of where it is on your resume.
Putting It All Together
So there you have it.
The most important thing to remember is to select skills that are relevant to the position you are interviewing for, and more important than that, skills that your company puts a tremendous amount of value in.
Once you get your skills straightened out, you should make sure that the rest of your resume is congruent with the skills you just selected, namely, that your experience shows that you both used those skills in a work environment and developed the skill with on-the-job tasks.
The next thing you should do is download our action list below!
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FREE: “Big List Of Skills To Put On Your Resume” PDF ACTION LIST
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In it you’ll get 100 “plug and play” skills you can pop into your resume right now!
These skills are organized by THE most common job categories so you’re getting tailored skills that will fit perfectly with your position.
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