Best Professional Skills to Put on a Resume (2021)

a picture of business person and skills list for the resume

Here are the best skills to put on a resume. Placing skills on a resume can be a fantastic way of showing employers that you not only have the required characteristics to be a top candidate for the open position. But that you read the job description, too.

skills for resume

Before we begin

Recruiters and hiring managers look for relevant professional skills that fit the criteria of the job. While the relevant job skills that are listed on a resume isn't going to be prioritized higher than work experience, it can certainly help.

It's best to manage your own expectations on the importance of skills before deciding to list them on your resume.

Before writing any type of skills on a resume. Be sure to match any prior work experience, education, and certifications to the job function. Spend time considering what prior jobs and functions within that job apply to the company and role you're applying for.

skills for resume

Always consider resume skills as the "finishing touches" to any resume.

How to Put Skills on a Resume

Hiring managers look for two types of key skills. Soft skillthis s and hard skillsIt's ideal to list both types of skills. When reading a job description, here is what a requirements list might look like.

skills for resume

Job requirements

  • Bachelor's degree in Business Management or Communications.
  • Required to work nights.
  • Ability to coordinate with sales and marketing leaders.
  • Strong comprehension of the Adobe Creative Suite.

When we look at that requirements list, there are the two types of skills listed.

"Ability to coordinate with sales and marketing leaders." This indicates a type of soft skill required. Coordination, communication, and cross-functional leadership come to mind.

Try to read through the job description and match what the hiring manager has listed in the requirements along with the most relevant skills from the lists below.

"Strong comprehension of the Adobe Creative Suite." This indicates a type of hard skill that's required. Not only computer technology and software. But also a specific type of software. In this circumstance, you might want to list "Adobe Creative Suite" as your skill.

Most job descriptions tend to list these insights. If they aren't listed, it's okay to contact the hiring manager or recruiter and ask for more detail about the position before submitting a resume. Indicating to the manager that the job ad was limited.

skills for resume

Pro tip: Always highlight career achievements or metrics that show career success on your resume. All the skills mentioned at the bottom of the resume (from this guide) will help to tell a story of "how" the successes happened.

Hard skills examples (hard skills vs. soft skills)

Job openings will almost always mention the important skills required to succeed in the role. When you see specific skills that are about the job. Rather than universal skills. Those might be hard skills.

Here is what they will look like on a job ad:

  • Strong knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Capable of executing CouchDB and MongoDB.
  • Familiar with JavaScript, Ruby on Rails.

These are examples of hard skills and technical skills.

Pro tip: Always research the company values before deciding which skills to mention. Never lie about which skills you list. And expect the interview to cover questions that relate to your skills.

skills for resume

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are things like communication, organization, presentation capabilities, teamwork, planning, time management, and more.

They generally cover a broad range of jobs. It's great to list a few transferable skills on the resume as well. Remember to look through the job requirements under the job posting to understand which skills to mention.

How many skills should be on the resume?

Don't go overboard. List the most relevant soft skills and be sure that both skills and hard skills are present. And that at least one to three of the skills in the skills section would be considered a transferable skill.

skills for resume

Where do skills go on the resume?

In terms of priority, the hiring manager is going to evaluate career achievements, work experience, and education in a higher priority than the skills on your resume.

This should be priority of your content blocks on the resume:

  • Career achievements (or a resume objective/resume summary)
  • Work experience
  • Education and certifications (certification programs completed)
  • Skills
  • Volunteer work

Your skills section should always be at the bottom of the resume.

How should skills be formatted?

The resume skills list on your resume should be formatted as a bulleted list or as a string of skills inside of a paragraph. Above this list should be a headline, saying skills.

Always have a separate skills section on your resume. Never include individual skills in the resume objective/resume summary.

Mentioning soft skills through the cover letter is okay. Though, keep it focused on storytelling rather than listing the skills in a bulleted list.

Here are the two methods for including skills as its own section on the resume.

Skills

  • Communication skills.
  • Teamwork.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Project management.
  • Cloud computing.

Alternatively, it can look like this:

Skills

Communication skills, teamwork, problem-solving, project management, cloud computing.

Which format to pick?

Choose the format that best suites the style of resume that you're building. The skills section assumes you're building a traditional resume format (or better known as reverse chronological resume). If you're building a functional resume or a CV, don't follow either of these formats.

skills for resume

When to use an "Additional Skills" section

If you have a significant amount of experience in your industry but lack specific technical skills required for the position. Then an "Additional Skills" might be best. Here is how that should look.

Additional Skills
  • Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, CAD
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Excellent communication skills

When to use a "Technical Skills" section

A technical skills section is perfect for engineers, software engineers, or other highly technical jobs. Usually, where the job requirements list multiple hard skills.

The job requirements list might have things like "MongoDB" or "JavaScript" as part of their requirements.

Here is how a technical skills section should look.

Technical Skills
  • MongoDB, SQL, and more.
  • JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, Ruby, Node.js

skills for resume

Coordinate your soft and hard skills

The best way to ensure that the skills coordinate is to consider telling stories in the cover letter and through work experience bullets that indicate particular hard and soft skills.

To do this, consider listing the achievement that was made inside the work experience item. Then, listing the skills or short story that led to being able to achieve that goal.

Here's an example work experience section/block.

Apple, Inc (2015-2021)
  • Increased internal velocity by 5X over 2 years.
  • Utilized interpersonal skills to coordinate with the sales team to drive higher conversions.

skills for resume

Tips to follow

Be sure to list both soft skills and hard skills on the resume. Avoid listing personal skills, something like athleticism. List at least five to ten skills.

And lastly, avoid putting skills at the top of the resume and listing more than ten skills in the list.

Pro tip: Consider what the applicant tracking system might flag in terms of skills. List skills that are relevant to the job and relevant to the industry. Highlight skills that are specific to the job ad, only. Listing the "right skills" will prioritize your resume higher than others as the applicant tracking system scans it for keywords.

Understanding Key Skills

To determine the skills for a resume, it's important to comprehend which skills you're best at.

During the hiring process, the manager is going to inquire deeper into whatever skills you decided to list.

This is why it's vital that you spend the time to consider which skills not only fit the job description. But which skills fit your professional background.

Here are some top soft skills and what they mean in the workplace:

  • Adaptability: Adaptability in the workplace refers to the changing work conditions and changing work environment. This is a wonderful skill to have because workplaces change. They go through market condition alterations that can cause employees stress. If you don't feel stress while undergoing transformation, that's a great thing.
  • Attention to detail: Being able to have close attention to detail is a strong skill. It can be one of your personality traits that carries over well into the workplace. This skill commonly helps managers. As they have to oversee your work less. And can mean that managers have more time to focus on the business.
  • Problem-solving: Problem-solving is a key skill of any employee. Employees will experience times where they have to make a decision. Or need to think creativity in order to address a certain business problem. While this is a vastly overused skill, it's still vital to your work.
  • Time management: Having the ability to "manage yourself" is a big component to producing great work. And putting time back into the company. Using your time wisely. And making sure that your work is being managed appropriately, is a great skill.
  • Decision-making: Can you make decisions without the need of a manager? Are you able to see what the business needs? And then address that on your own? This is a key skill. Awareness and the capability to see what needs to get done. Then, doing it.
  • Work ethic: A strong work ethic is wonderful to embrace and show. Though, simply saying "work ethic" as your skills isn't going to be enough. You'll need to support your work ethic with a large range of business results for the companies that you'v worked with.
  • Creativity: Are you creative? Can you think outside "the box?" Being creative doesn't mean that you have to have a job title that fits the creative passions you have. It can simply mean being available to address problems in a new way. And thinking about the world from "another angle."
  • Flexibility: Flexibility in the workplace is becoming a stronger skill. Managers and owners want to know that changes aren't going to have significant impact on your work. If you can adapt with the business, as you go, that's a strong skill to show and support.

Here are top technical skills/hard skills and what they mean in the workplace:

  • Math: Math proficiency goes a long way in the workplace. It's considered a hard skill. Your ability to do math will present itself an opportunity on a regular basis. From budgeting to forecasting. Having keen math capabilities can certainly assist your active job and other team members.
  • Languages: Being able to speak multiple languages is a very strong proficiency. You'll be able to assist in customer service matters. Can assist in handling language barrier issues. And generally, this hard skill comes in handy when it's needed the most.
  • Software proficiency: Using software is how business is done. From being able to use the Adobe Suite to Google Docs. Or using spreadsheets to special data analysis software. It's key that you understand how software and computers work. And are capable of learning these systems quickly.
  • Data analysis: Data is used to propel business. From addressing revenue concerns. To inquiring about operations of the business. Knowing how to use data to make informed decisions is one of the best hard skills to list.
  • Typing skills: We type all day, now. In the workplace our communication could be through Slack. Or other business messaging software. Can you write quickly? The hard skills of writing quickly is more than simply getting more work done. It's about ensuring that you have the capacity to keep up with your colleagues.
  • Writing and editing: Writing skills are important and vital. We write to communicate the metrics of the business. We write to communicate where the business is going. Utilizing writing skills is a key to unlocking success.

How to Discover Skills a Company Values

When determine which skills to list, it's always best to refer to the company values. Like referenced in this guide.

Though, how can you do that? What are the methods for being able to understand the company values?

Use LinkedIn

A companies LinkedIn profile usually reveals a lot about what it stands for. It could be certain articles they're sharing. Or topics they're discussing.

You can gather a lot of information about what the company is seeking in their current employees and new employees by researching which conversations they are taking active participation in.

Use the "About Us" page

In the "About us" page of a website, you'll see quotes and sayings that reference the company values.

For example, you could see references like the following:

  • We value inclusivity and creativity.
  • Ethics come first.
  • Hack the world, hard work pays off.
  • Trust and responsibility are important to our customers.

These are keywords that can provide assistance in determining what values you should list on the resume.

Referencing the correct set of values, competencies, and ethics will certainly increase the chances of getting a job offer.

Scour the "About Us" page or "Careers" page of the corporate website. Determine which copy on the page points toward values, ethics, or other key pieces of information.

Other social media outlets

If those resources didn't work, try the corporate Twitter account of Instagram.

Go back in the history of the account. And see where the company is placing it's time and emphasis. Remember, when the company is part of an active conversation related to our culture or their culture in the workplace, that's an indicator of the values the company wants to see.

You'll need to spend time to "reverse engineer" the type of persona the company is desiring.

And at the end of it, you're simply making an educated guess. And hoping that your soft skills/hard skills pay off.

Best Skills to Put on a Resume (Resume Skills)

Here are skills to put on a resume. Today's job market demands flexibility and adaptability amongst changing work conditions. It's great to mention adaptability and remote work capabilities.

skills for resume

Top skills to have as a job seeker in 2021

Here are the top transferable skills to have as a job seeker.

  • Ability to adapt to change
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Resilience
  • Curiosity
  • Flexibility
  • Coaching mindset
  • Growth mindset
  • People management skills

Technical skills to have (hard resume skills)

Skills that relate to technical knowledge required of the job candidates.

  • Cloud computing
  • Cloud networking
  • Computer skills
  • Software skills (Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office Suite)
  • Distributed computing
  • UI/UX Design
  • Software revision control systems
  • Statistical analysis and data mining (R)

Soft skills to have

Transferable soft skills to put on a resume for any type of work environment.

  • Adaptability
  • Problem-solving
  • Organization
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Customer service
  • Reporting (P&L Management)
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Creativity
  • Conceptual skills
  • Oral communication
  • Presentation skills
  • Remote work capabilities

Relevant skills to particular jobs

Healthcare/Nursing

Skills for nurses.

Retail

Skills for retail positions.

  • Customer service skills
  • Time management
  • Multitasking
  • Business awareness
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Dependability
  • Work ethic

Customer Service

Customer service skills to have.

  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Self-control
  • Taking responsibility
  • Reverse engineering
  • Patience

Teaching/Education

Teaching and education skills.

  • Enthusiasm
  • Confidence
  • Patience
  • Creativity
  • Organization
  • Conflict resolution

Marketing

Marketing soft skills.

  • SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Attribution
  • Customer acquisition
  • Channel development

New Graduate

Skills for recent graduates.

  • Drive
  • Creative thinking
  • Equity and inclusion
  • Professionalism
  • Teamwork
  • Technical knowledge
  • Social skills

Project Manager

Great skills for project managers to list.

  • Agile methodology
  • SCRUM
  • Kanban
  • Time management
  • Team leadership
  • Public speaking skills

Management/Leadership

Management skills and leadership skills.

  • Peer leadership
  • Single threaded leadership
  • P&L management
  • Project management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Coordination
  • Forecasting
  • Budgeting
  • Influence skills
  • Active listening skills

Pro tip: Place the required skills and skills employers are seeking throughout the entire resume and cover letter. Mention all the specific skills that HR professionals might be seeking in order to elevate the entire resume. Don't reply on a resume skills section to do all the work.

Examples of Placing Skills on a Resume

Be sure to choose the right resume format for the type of job you're applying for. Most job seekers use a reverse chronological resume format rather than a functional resume format.

Below are examples of skills on a reverse chronological resume.

skills for resume

skills for resume

Favorite Resources

Our favorite resources are included below.

Job interview resources

Resume and cover letter resources

Job search resources

free interview question and answer full guide

Interview Question and Answer Guide (PDF)

Get our full interview preparation guide. Complete with common interview questions and example answers. Free. No email required.

Grab the PDF
author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, Dice.com, WorkWise, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

Share

Help us by spreading the word