Best Professional Skills to Put on a Resume (2021)
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.
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.
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 skills and hard skills. It's ideal to list both types of skills. When reading a job description, here is what a requirements list might look like.
- 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.
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.
These are examples of hard skills and technical skills.
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.
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)
- 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.
- Communication skills.
- Project management.
- Cloud computing.
Alternatively, it can look like this:
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.
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.
- 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.
Here is how a technical skills section should look.
- MongoDB, SQL, and more.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- Customer service
- Reporting (P&L Management)
- Critical thinking skills
- Analytical thinking skills
- Conceptual skills
- Oral communication
- Presentation skills
- Remote work capabilities
Relevant skills to particular jobs
Skills for nurses.
- Coordination skills
- Compliance skills
- Patient care
- Attention to detail
Skills for retail positions.
- Customer service skills
- Time management
- Business awareness
- Interpersonal skills
- Work ethic
Customer service skills to have.
- Taking responsibility
- Reverse engineering
Teaching and education skills.
- Conflict resolution
Marketing soft skills.
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Customer acquisition
- Channel development
Skills for recent graduates.
- Creative thinking
- Equity and inclusion
- Technical knowledge
- Social skills
Great skills for project managers to list.
- Agile methodology
- Time management
- Team leadership
- Public speaking skills
Management skills and leadership skills.
- Peer leadership
- Single threaded leadership
- P&L management
- Project management
- Conflict resolution
- 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.
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Preparing for Job Interviews by the University of Kansas
- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
- Interview Guidebook by Lebanon Valley College
Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
- Resume Writing Tips by the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
Job search resources
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