The Skills Section on a Resume

How to write it and which skills to include

Resume Templates

Confused about what skills to put on a resume? Read on for a helpful guide to completing the resume skills section.

When creating an effective resume, you need to know how to write a skills section because it is one of the first things a potential employer will look for to get a basic understanding of what you, as a potential employee, can bring to their company.

The following guide includes the difference between hard and soft skills, tips for how to write a skills section for a winning resume and of course examples of good skills to include on a resume to help you make the most out of your resume and land your dream job.

Throughout the skills section, you will need to highlight your strengths and provide evidence of how you have applied your skills in a professional environment to improve profits or operations.

The structure for how to include skills on your resume will also depend on the resume format you choose to use.

Whether job-related, transferable or adaptive skills are what you have most of, there are ways to include all of your best attributes to sell your profile to the employer if you are a good fit for the position on offer.

Remember, the hiring manager wants to employ you! The company is looking for someone who has just the skill set they need to get the best out of that position and you need to use your resume skills section as well as the rest of the resume to show them that you are that person.


Hard Skills Vs Soft Skills

In the world of resume writing, skills are categorized into two different types: the hard and the soft, encompassing all types of technical or social abilities that can be relevant to a working environment.

Soft Skills

Soft skills is the name given to those capabilities that are either naturally present in certain people or are developed through relations and experience more often than through official courses. Also known as social skills, these abilities are considered personal attributes which are positive for jobseekers to bring to a professional situation.

Think of your character and choose some of your best personal traits. Consider how these attributes have either helped you to achieve something or have benefited your career in some way.

  • Are you a people-person?
  • Do people often describe you as having great social skills?
  • Are you able to mediate well?
  • Or are you a natural-born leader?

Answering ‘yes’ to any of these could mean you are a good communicator or have natural negotiating skills or perhaps strong leadership abilities. All of these can be very advantageous in a wide variety of professions and are often desired skills for any vacancy regardless of the industry or level of position.

As it can be more complicated to provide quantifiable evidence for soft skills on a resume, a tip to follow would be to research professionals in your industry or in the position you seek or even take a look at various similar job advertisements to see the desired or emphasized soft skills mentioned.

If possible use them for your application, but remember NOT to lie on your resume, only take those skills that actually apply to your personal or professional profile.

Hard Skills

Hard skills, on the other hand, refer to more technical, accumulative abilities, usually more specific to certain positions or industries. The name ‘hard skills’ comes from the idea of a more tangible type of capacity which is less subjective and is usually developed through taking a course or studying. This means that the candidate has either a certificate or diploma as proof of acquiring the qualification.

Good examples of hard skills for your resume are either IT skills or the ability to speak a foreign language. These can even be adapted to a wide selection of sectors if you are not looking to apply to one industry in particular.

  • Do you have any specific computing abilities?
  • Have you taken a course in HTML coding?
  • Are you bilingual or have you learnt a second language to a professional level?

Hard skills, also known as employability skills or technical skills, can be quantified by your level of expertise in the subject or years of experience using a certain technique or program. It is important to use an easily-understandable, general range for measuring your level such as basic, intermediate or advanced which all potential employers can comprehend.

The key to attracting a potential employer to read your resume is to include a mix of both hard and soft skills both in the section dedicated to skills and throughout the rest of the resume. The importance of using both soft and hard skills on your resume is still debated but it is highly recommended by our resume experts to ensure a well-balanced resume and to demonstrate both your personal and professional profile.

You can look online for a list of soft skills or hard skills to give you some ideas. Also, you can easily make your resume stand out by using an online resume builder to help you with the basic formatting and give you great examples of skills to include on your resume to get the employer’s attention.

Personal Skills Vs Professional Skills

Skills can be given many names and can be acquired or learned through many different activities so people often don’t realize their own abilities until they need to detail them for a certain reason such as a resume when applying for a job.

Much like hard and soft skills, which are characterized by whether it is a learned, technical skill or something you develop as part of your personality, professional and personal skills are similar however the difference lies in whether the skill can be adapted to your professional needs or not.


skills for resume

As with hard and soft skills, many abilities can be described as beneficial for nearly all careers but there are capabilities or qualifications which are considered either professional or personal skills that may not be relevant to a jobseeker’s application.

TOP TIP: Examples of skills not to be included on a resume may come from hobbies or activities that are not relevant to the sector or position available.

It is also possible that students, graduates and entry-level candidates have less professional skills if they have little to no work experience but this does not mean they have not developed some key skills from other activities which can be demonstrated and advantageous to a future career.

On the other hand, nearly 80% of graduate employers search for mostly personal, soft skills on student resumes  and entry-level resumes including such skills as leadership and ability to work on a team. The reason for this is that, as many applicants are likely to have the same technical skills if they’re applying for the same job and coming from similar academic or career backgrounds, what makes each candidate unique and stand out in the eyes of a potential employer are their personal skills.

As long as they’re appropriate, relevant and can be proven using real-life examples, most skills can be considered work-related skills.

Tips for adding skills on your resume

The skills section on a resume is one of the most pertinent for many employers who want to quickly ensure the candidate has the right skills to fill the vacancy.

  • It is crucial to aim to include skills on your resume throughout the information, not only in a dedicated skills section, but also in the work experience job descriptions and resume objective. These skills must be weaved into the basic fabric of your resume and not stand out for being out-of-place.
  • All skills that are mentioned on your resume must be tailored to your application. Each candidate should only present a resume with job or sector-specific skills.
  • Use your resources! Study carefully the job description or vacancy advertisement to find keywords to make into your key skills on your resume. This will also help to ensure your resume makes it through any initial Applicant Tracking Systems that a company may use to eliminate weaker candidates.
  • Other places that you can find keywords and ideas for skills to add to your resume are the desired qualifications or skills from the job description or information about the business or sector from the company website. Also a good idea is to check out the competition for keywords that will be relevant to your application.
  • Another tip for adding skills to a winning resume is to first mention the specific ability in the resume objective or skills section and to later, either in another resume section or in the accompanying professional cover letter, give an example of how having that skill at your disposition has allowed you to achieve something in your career or for a certain position or company. This would have an even more positive impact on a hiring manager if it is quantifiable.

The section dedicated to skills in the professional resume should incorporate not only personal abilities but also technical capabilities such as programmes that you can manage or languages that you speak.

You should also aim not only to mention the name but also your level in general terms that can be understood by non-specialists, such as beginner, intermediate, advanced.

Example Skills to add to your resume

Lost for what skills to include in a resume to catch a potential employer’s eye? Take a look at these job skill examples for some motivation.

For the skills section on a resume, it is important to include a range of abilities which encompass general skills and more job-specific skills or sector-specific skills if you are not sure of the ideal role but know the industry that you’re applying to.

It is always advisable to include any IT skills or computer-based program knowledge such as Microsoft Office competence, Spreadsheet, PowerPoint, Access, QuickBooks, Photoshop, email, web and social media, graphic design software, iOS, Android, AutoCAD, databases, Java, CMS, CSS, Data Analytics, Google Drive, HTML, MySQL, Ruby, PHP, UI/UX etc.

Also, any languages that you are able to speak, write and read are an essential aspect to include in your resume skills. Remember, to indicate the level or any qualifications you have to support your claim of a second language.

The following is a list of more general and transferable skills which are common to a large variety of sectors and positions. Many of these skills can be tailored to be more specific and customized according to your personal needs and professional experience. Both hard and soft skills are included and you can use this skills list as inspiration for your resume skills section.

AdministrationBenchmarkingMeet DeadlinesQuality Control
Business IntelligenceBusiness Trend AwarenessClient RelationsPersuasive
CommunicationCounselingEmployee RelationsObjectivity
ConsultingBrandingEmotional IntelligencePlanning
Customer ServiceCritical ThinkingLogical ThinkingPresentations
Conflict ResolutionBudgetingTranslationProblem Solving
Decision MakingCash HandlingMotivatingPublic Speaking
EditingCreativityOffice AdministrationReliability
FinanceCost estimationPatientRecord Keeping
Intercultural CompetenceCare GivingSalesResults-oriented
InterpersonalEmployment Rights/LawSpecialized KnowledgeSupervising
LeadershipEvaluatingSector Trend AwarenessStress Management
Clean Driving LicenseFlexibilityOperating MachineryScheduling
ManagementHealth and SafetyOrdering SuppliesTeam Player
MarketingHonesty – IntegrityProduct KnowledgeTraining-Teaching
NegotiatingResearchProject ManagementTime Management
OrganizationWorking independentlyRisk AssessmentWriting Reports

With ResumeCoach, candidates can use the online resume maker to optimize their resumes and tailor them for each vacancy using examples of job-specific and general skills as well as advice on how to complete each resume section making references to their appropriate and relevant abilities.

Last modified on October 20th, 2020

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