How to Add Skills to a Resume

Woman lying on ground writing resume

What makes a resume great? It depends on the person reading it. Because resumes aren’t just a list of all your skills – they’re a list of the skills most relevant to the reader. Narrowing down and describing all the right attributes for a skills based resume can be challenging, but below you can learn how to make things simpler.

What skills should you list on your resume?

A good resume is short and pithy. There’s only so much space on the page, and just like any other reader in the world, employers will often scan resumes to find the most relevant information. You can make that easier for them by prioritizing the skills that matter most, divided along the lines of hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are job-specific skills which can be essential for performing your duties. For example:

  • Mathematical Ability
  • Translation
  • Programming
  • Electrical Skills
  • Medical Training

And then there are soft-skills, which can actually have equal or greater importance to employers because of how they can be difficult to teach or train. Soft skills might include:

  • Time Management
  • Problem Solving Ability
  • Work Ethic
  • Written/Verbal Communication
  • Flexibility

How do you list and describe your skills on a resume?

Simply claiming that you’re a team-player means very little to a hiring manager. For any skill you claim to possess in the skills section of a resume, you’ll want to help demonstrate that skill, and show how it relates to the job in question.

For example, rather than saying “I’m good with communication,” you might say “customer service experience has helped me communicate more effectively with clients.” In other words, it helps to state how you’ve successfully developed and exercised the skill. The more detail, the better.

Additional Tips for Listing Skills on a Resume

Researching which skills employers are looking to find is usually as simple as carefully reading job descriptions. But taking the time to do so can help you focus your resume on the skills most valued by individual employers and companies.

Though for the rare instances where you have nothing to go on, it’s worth knowing the average employer is usually looking for leadership or teamwork experience. The former might suggest you have potential for advancement, while the latter is useful for almost all large scale organizations.

Be as concrete as possible. Proof is persuasive, so try to use numbers and facts. Rather than claiming, “I thrived in my previous customer service job”, you might say “We saw a 18% decrease in complaints while I was working in the position.”

Skills Not to Include on a Resume

Of course, there are some skills you should leave off your resume. For instance, nothing will make your resume more invisible to employers than clichés. Claiming that you’re a “people person” isn’t just  information that’s not useful, it could be an active detriment to your resume.

Likewise, don’t include skills or hobbies that are irrelevant to your work. And unless you’re applying for an entry-level position, don’t include basic skills like typing or email. If you don’t have reason to believe the information you’re providing can help an employer make their hiring decision, then leave it out.

Consider Transferable Skills

Both hard skills and soft skills can be transferable, but it’s not always obvious how transferable experience applies to a new position. Make sure it’s always clear how your stated skills apply. Nothing is too small (if it’s relevant).

On occasion, employers will find themselves selecting between applicants with nearly identical qualifications. Although you don’t want your resume to run long or contain irrelevant information, small details could help push your application over the top.

Prepare for Your New Career with MyPath

Landing your dream job can take a long and sustained effort, so it helps if you’re taking the right approach from the start. MyPath can help you plan your way to building a successful career, from learning how to write a resume objective to finding advice on how to describe yourself in a job interview. And if you’re still searching for a career that might match your unique skills and personality, be sure to check out the Career Wizard Tool.