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The Importance of Skills

Skills matter because they’re the attributes you possess to perform a duty or job.

Think of it this way: Would you want to go under surgery with someone who doesn’t know how to use a scalpel?

Absolutely not! When you’re putting your trust in someone, you want to know that they’re good at what they’re going to do. Even more than just using the blade, it’d be nice to know other skills your surgeon has, like grace under pressure and steady hands.

Employers feel the same way about hiring. They’re not going to hire you if they don’t believe you have the necessary skills.

That’s why it’s so crucial that you target the right skills the employer is looking for and convincingly showcase your abilities.

The right balance of skills is crucial.

The first thing that you need to know is that they are two main types of skills: hard skills and soft skills. This is important because a well-written resume should include a mixture of both.

Hard skills refer to skills that can be developed and improved through experience, repetition and practice. They’re usually easy to demonstrate, prove or quantify. For example, typing is a hard skill, and you could demonstrate your typing abilities by doing a test that measures how many words per minute you type.

Soft skills refer to skills that are harder to measure, quantify or demonstrate. For example, teamwork is a soft skill, and it’s clear why it’s necessary to perform well: People work in groups in many industries. Even though it’s hard to demonstrate to someone you’re good at it, it’s essential to include it on your resume.

Where to Use Skills

Your resume should always contain skills, no matter your experience or skill level.

There are three main places on your resume that it’s best to include skills:

1. In a skills section.

The standard practice is to list six to eight skills on your resume in the skills section. How prominently you feature this skills section on your resume is something that we’ll discuss below.

1. Your professional summary.

Since your professional summary lives at the top of your resume, it’s often the first thing that employers read. So, it works to your advantage to include two or three of your top skills to describe yourself.

1. Peppered into your work experience.

It’s good practice to elaborate more on your skills in your resume by explaining the achievements and results your skills have produced. It will help reinforce your claims about your abilities.

Some resumes also include a section called a summary of qualifications — it’s also appropriate to include them there.

How to Write a Skills Section

The process of writing a skills section is pretty straightforward. However, the tricky part comes with making two important decisions before you write it:

We’ll break it down into steps that will be easy for you to follow:

Decide which jobs to feature in your work experience.

Every job requires a different skill set –– even the same job title may require different skills depending on the company or business.

So, the first step of writing a skills section is to target the specific skills that an employer is looking for.

The best way that you do that is by referring back to the job post or ad. In it, the employer should mention some of the skills they’re looking for and you need to pay attention.

Try and identify the keywords and skills that an employer mentions there. Especially hone in on the words that seem emphasized.

Then, being honest with yourself and your abilities, come up with a list of six to eight of these skills that you possess.

If the employer doesn’t list many skills in the job post or ad, look at the duties required of the job and try to think about the skills you possess that will help you perform those tasks.

That’s how you’re going to know what skills to include on your resume.

To provide an illustration, here’s a good example of a graphic design job post and how a strong candidate tailors their resume to it:

Job post example:

Our in-house graphic department consists of professionals who are committed to serving our customers with superior designs to promote their outstanding products. We are currently seeking a talented designer who possesses proven skills across various creative disciplines – these include graphic design, digital photography, sketching and other creative forms. A can-do attitude and collaborative spirit are prerequisites for this important position. You must also be fun to work with!

Responsibilities:

  1. Conceptualize and translate graphic and packaging design trends to create appealing, innovative, and aesthetically-pleasing packaging solutions.

  2. Fluency with graphic design principles (typography, form, color, composition, photography, etc.) with the ability to follow design guidelines, yet also push boundaries.

  3. Design and prepare marketing and sales materials including trend boards, sample mock-ups, and renderings as needed.

  4. High-level of collaboration across multiple departments including PD, Marketing & Sales, Purchasing, and Production. Effective communication skills are required.

  5. Meet tight project timelines through good management of workflow and ability to prioritize. Strong follow-through and flexibility is necessary.

Qualifications:

BFA or BA in art

Must be up to date with current design trends

Three years working experience in graphic design, a background in luxury consumer packaging or gift or cosmetic environment is a great plus.

A demonstrated mastery of graphic design principals including typography in addition to having a working knowledge of pre-press, color separation and printing processes.

Experience with production is a necessity.

Able to work both independently and take direction is necessary. Working professionally with colleagues in a collaborative spirit is central to the success of this position.

Now that you can see what the employer is calling out for in terms of the position, observe how a solid candidate echoes back the needs of the ad.

Where to position your skills section

Once you know what skills to include, it’s important to decide where you’re going to include a skills section on your resume because there are different ways you can approach this.

You can organize your resume in three ways and those ways are referred to as resume formats. The placement of your skills section will depend on which format that you decide to use.

The three formats are: chronological, functional and hybrid/combination:

Chronological resumes place your skills section below the work experience sections.

That’s because the chronological resume tends to be used by job candidates with more job experience, so they should spotlight their work experience. This makes a strong case that they can perform the job at hand.

Functional resume formats are much more skills-focused and will always place the skills section above the work experience section.

That’s because functional formats are ideal for job candidates who have zero or little work experience. So, they showcase their skills as the main reason they should get hired.

Hybrid/combination formats are the happy middle ground between chronological and functional resumes. They will often place equal emphasis on the skills and work experience sections with a design that keeps them listed next to each other, or the skills may be listed above the work experience section. Still, work experience will be given more space than on a functional resume.

The process of deciding which of these formats is best for you depends on your experience level and where you’re at career-wise.

The general application is this:

  1. Candidates with more than five years or more of work experience should use a chronological format.

  2. Candidates with less than two years experience should use a functional format.

  3. Hybrid/chronological formats tend to work the best for candidates with between two and five years experience and are well-suited for people who are applying for promotion from job titles they’ve held.

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Skills Examples by Job Title

It makes it a lot easier to write your own skills section by looking at some effective examples. As you can see, all of these examples use a balance of hard and soft skills.

So, here are skills sections examples for some of our most popular titles:

Accountant

  1. Bookkeeping

  2. QuickBooks, GnuCash, SageX3 and TurboCash fluent

  3. Attention to detail

  4. Self-motivation

  5. Tax code knowledge

  6. Creative solutions

  7. Overhead reduction

  8. Business analytics

Administrative Assistant

  1. Filing

  2. Data-entry

  3. Excel, GSuite, MSOffice and QuickBooks proficient

  4. Teamwork

  5. Positive attitude

  6. Prioritization

  7. Attention to detail

  8. Type 72 wpm

Data Analyst

  1. Data visualization

  2. SQL specialization

  3. Presentations

  4. Python statistical programming

  5. Critical thinking

  6. Solutions focused

  7. Creative forecasting

  8. Problem-solving

Financial Analyst

  1. Predictive forecasting

  2. Data modeling

  3. Slideshow presentation

  4. Financial strategy

  5. Public speaking

  6. Data-driven

  7. Awareness of market trends

  8. Leadership

Human Resources Recruiter

  1. Cultural sensitivity

  2. Social justice awareness

  3. Networking

  4. Talent acquisition

  5. ATS programming

  6. CRM fluency

  7. Intuition

  8. Selecting company-dedicated employees

IT Project Manager

  1. Troubleshooting

  2. Data logistics solutions

  3. Network maintenance

  4. Server administration

  5. Cloud storage architecture

  6. Fast ticket response

  7. Debugging

  8. Project management

Mechanical Engineer

  1. Drawing schematics

  2. Accurate CAD rendering

  3. Minutiae focused

  4. Interpersonal skills

  5. Teamwork

  6. Meeting project deadlines

  7. Analytical thinking

  8. AutoCAD, Design Spark and SolveSpace expertise

Nursing Assistant

  1. Compassion

  2. Vitals diagnostics

  3. Bedding preparation

  4. Teamwork

  5. Written and verbal communication

  6. Recordkeeping

  7. Following directions

  8. Care-focused

Receptionist

  1. Impeccable phone etiquette

  2. Organization

  3. Friendliness

  4. Active listening

  5. Line management

  6. Data entry

  7. 84 wpm type speed

  8. Scheduling

Sales Associate

  1. Term negotiation

  2. Rapport building

  3. Networking

  4. Self-motivated

  5. Follows protocol

  6. Low-pressure approach

  7. Client-focused

  8. Upbeat personality

Software Engineer

  1. Front-end systems

  2. Teamwork

  3. Communication

  4. Meeting deadlines

  5. Solutions focused

  6. Troubleshooting

  7. Debugging

  8. C++, Java and Scala fluent

FAQ

What are good skills for a resume?

Including “good skills” on a resume means two things:

If you do both these things then you will know which skills to include on your own resume.

In general, hard skills determine whether or not you would be able to do the job that you’re applying for. Can you do the things required, like using a cash register, lifting heavy loads, engaging with customers, or performing important financial tasks?

Soft skills tend to refer more to how you accomplish a job or task, your work style. So it can be said that soft skills like teamwork, attention to detail, positive attitude, empathy, active listening, and multitasking are skills that would be welcome to most jobs.

You can figure out the general mixture of hard and soft skills the employer is looking for by paying close attention to what they ask for in the job post!

Can a builder help me write a skills section?

Yes, absolutely!

JobHero’s Resume Builder can help you create a resume in just three quick steps. It formats your resume for you so that all you have to do is select a design that you like and input your data.

Best of all, it helps make writing your skills section super easy because of our huge database of skills specific to the job title you’re applying for!

The builder suggests skills to include in your resume based on the job title that you’re applying for.

So, build your resume now before anyone beats you to the job you’re after!

What are seven top soft skills?

Seven valuable soft skills that appeal to employers include:

What are five top hard skills?

Here’s our list of five hard skills that may open up many job opportunities for you.

See if you possess them; if not, find ways that you can pick up these very useful skills:

Including any of these skills will give you an advantage on your resume because they indicate that you are a useful employee!

What are your top five skills?

If an employer asks you to list your top five skills, they’re looking for you to be honest with them about what you bring to the table that would be an asset to the role.

Think about what the employer needs and try to draw upon five skills that you possess that would best fulfill those needs,

That depends on you. So, to prepare to write a resume, cover letter or for an interview, do some deep thinking to feel confident about why you’re the right person for a job.