The skills section of your resume can help you stand out from the crowd. It provides a snapshot of your abilities and how you can contribute to the company.
Not only should you focus on industry-specific skills, but you should also consider including soft skills in your skillset list. These are skills that will demonstrate your personal attributes and interpersonal strengths.
But remember, it’s essential to tailor your skills to match the job requirements. Look at the job description carefully and match your skillset list to the needs of the job.
Below, I’ll help you narrow-down which examples of resume skills you’ll want to list on your resume.
Types of Skills for a Resume
First, you’ll want to remember to include a mix of different types of skills in your resume, to demonstrate a well-rounded skillset for the job.
You need to show you can walk into the job and not only excel, but solve the problems your new workplace has!
Here are some times of skills to consider:
- Hard Skills: These are the skills that we explicitly learn in school or apprenticeships. They’re both teachable and measurable abilities. Examples include the ability to write web copy, complete mathematical tasks, speak proficiently in a foreign language, or the ability to use word processors. I’ll list my 5 top hard skills later in this article.
- Soft Skills: Soft skills are personality traits, behaviors, and characteristics. They’re generally learned through life experience, are more abstract, and are less tangible than hard skills. They demonstrate how you work and interact with others, and can include skills like: leadership, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and adaptability. I’ll share my top 5 soft skills later in this article, too.
- Transferable Skills: Transferable skills are those that you can bring to any role, sector, or industry. We might call them ‘universal skills’. Examples include time management and project coordination – both professional skills that are necessary in any job.
- Job-Related Skills: These are specific skills required for a specific job. You’ll know these based upon the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a Python developer, then of course, you need to know the Python programming language.
- Adaptive Skills: These are the skills you have in self-discipline and self-regulation, which enable you to adapt to new situations. Examples include punctuality, stress management, and persistence.
Resume Skills Examples
5 Top Soft Skills for a Resume
Soft skills are personality traits, behaviors, and characteristics. They’re generally learned through life experience, are more abstract, and are less tangible than hard skills.
- Leadership: Leadership skills are developed over time as we gain experience managing teams, handling group dynamics, and mentoring less experienced staff. However, it’s an essential soft skill if you’re going to be working toward management-level positions
Ideal For: Project Manager, Executive Director, Team Lead
- Communication: While this is a broad skillset (which I why I wrote a whole article on communication skills), generally, it involves having the ability to listen actively, keep all stakeholders abreast of key points, and write professional emails and other texts
Ideal For: Public Relations Specialist, Teacher (see: skills for a teacher resume), Customer Service Representative.
- Problem-Solving: This requires the capacity to identify problems and develop and implement solutions to bottlenecks. A problem solver is desirable because they help companies resolve the core issues they face, which is key for just about any job.
Ideal For: Business Consultant, Software Developer, Operations Manager
- Teamwork: Teamwork is essential in most workplaces in the 21st Century, where we work in groups to solve the complex problems of modern times. A good team player contributes to a positive team environment, focuses on team goals over personal ambitions, and steps up to support team members in need.
Ideal For: Nurse, Sales Associate, Human Resources Specialist
- Adaptability: The skill of adaptability refers to the ability to adjust to changes in the workplace, which are increasingly common as technology (and AI!) brings about rapid developments in how we work. Demonstrate your adaptability through stories of how you’ve embraced the latest trends to improve your productivity
Ideal For: IT Professional, Freelance Writer, Event Planner
List of Additional Soft Skills
Read Also: Soft Skills for a Teacher Resume
5 Top Hard Skills for a Resume
Hard skills are the skills that we explicitly learn in school or apprenticeships. They’re both teachable and measurable abilities.
- Data Analysis: Data analytics skills are those required for identifying trends and patterns within complex datasets. For these skills, you’ll likely need direct statistical, mathematical, and software training. A good data analyst is likely also able to pull out key actionable strategies or tactics based upon the dataset.
Ideal For: Data Scientist, Market Research Analyst, or Business Analyst.
- Foreign Language Proficiency: There are many jobs – particularly in tourism and international business – that require you to understand, speak, read, and write in a foreign language as part of your day-to-day job. Being able to speak a foreign language proficiently is a hard skill you’ll need for these jobs. You may also need to understand cultural nuances, which would be an adjacent soft skill.
Ideal For: Diplomat, International Sales Manager, or a Translator/Interpreter.
- Software Proficiency: Many jobs require you to operate specific software or a suite of software applications in order to be successful in the job. For example, a graphic designer will need to be able to demonstrate proficiency in Adobe Photoshop.
Ideal For: Project Managers, Graphic Designers, Software Developers
- Technical Writing: This is the ability to communicate complex information in a clear, concise manner. Technical writers need to understand the genre of technical writing and its conventions.
Ideal For: Technical Writers, Quality Assurance Analysts, Engineers
- Digital Marketing: Digital marketing skills include SEO competency, content marketing knowledge, social media management, and data analysis to execute successful marketing campaigns.
Ideal For: Social Media Manager, SEO Specialist, Content Marketer
List of Additional Hard Skills
- Programming Languages
- Social Media Management
- Graphic Design
- Spreadsheet Management
- Email Marketing
- Cybersecurity Knowledge
- User Experience Design
- Game Design
- Video Production
- Content Management Systems
- Cloud Management
- Virtual/Augmented Reality Design
- Mobile Development
- Search Engine Optimization
- Web Development
- Statistical Analysis
- Blockchain Technology
- Machine Operation
- 3D Printing
5 Top Transferable Skills for a Resume
Transferable skills refer to ones that you can bring from one workplace to another or one context to another. They help to demonstrate your ability to work effectively regardless of the task and are often the best resume experiences to list on your CV.
- Research and Analysis: You’ll need to do research and analysis in most jobs where you’ve got to make complex decisions. We need to make decisions based on empirical data and research, rather than on a whim. So, research skills are vital to most jobs these days!
Ideal For: Market Research Analyst, Academic Researcher, or Intelligence Analyst.
- Project Management: This includes planning, executing, and overseeing projects. This is a skill that needs to be developed over time with experience – often, we only get good at managing projects after we’ve got experience with the common barriers and tripwires that cause projects to fail.
Ideal For: Construction Manager, IT Project Manager, Marketing Manager
- Customer Service: One great thing about this skill is that many of us develop it in our first jobs – after school or during university – where we’re working as servers or receptionists. But it’s a skill you can also sell for higher-up positions upon graduation because having the ability to meet the needs of (often prickly!) customers is central to higher-level positions like management roles as well.
Ideal For: Retail Manager, Receptionist, or Call Center Representative.
- Negotiation: This involves the ability to work through conflicts of interest and find ways for people to come to mutually agreeable and win-win conclusions. Negotiation is desirable because it helps to resolve disputes that workplaces face.
Ideal For: Real Estate Broker, Lawyer, Purchasing Manager
- Time Management: This involves planning and organizing tasks to ensure they are completed on schedule. Keep in mind, time management is not just shown on your CV: it’s evident when you turn up to the interview early and ready to go!
Ideal For: Journalist, Executive Assistant, and Restaurant Manager.
List of Additional Transferable Skills
- Sales Skills
- Basic Accounting
- Public Relations
5 Top Job-Related Skills for a Resume
Job-related skills are specific to a certain job, representing the abilities you clearly need to execute the job effectively. They can be both hard and soft.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO involves ranking articles and videos on search engines to improves a company’s visibility and bring new customers into your marketing funnel. It requires knowledge of how search engine algorithms work, keyword research skills, and the ability to write and edit optimized articles.
Ideal For: SEO Specialists, Content Marketers, Digital Marketing Managers
- Public Speaking: This involves the ability to confidently speak in public settings without stumbling on the message, misspeaking etc. Public speaking requires a range of additional abilities, like effective body language, engaging speech, and the ability to handle audience questions.
Ideal For: Politician, College Professor, Corporate Trainer
- Database Management: This involves storing, organizing, and retrieving data efficiently using database management systems. Understanding of SQL, Oracle, or other database tools is essential.
Ideal For: Database Administrator, Data Analyst, IT Manager
- Financial Forecasting: This skill involves predicting future financial outcomes based on historical financial data, current economic trends, and risk profiles of clients. It requires knowledge of statistical tools and finance principles.
Ideal For: Financial Analyst, CFO, Investment Banker
- Machine Learning: Machine learning requires the ability to develop algorithms and statistical models that enable computers to perform tasks without explicit programming.
Ideal For: AI Engineer, Data Scientist, Machine Learning Researcher
List of Additional Job-Related Skills
- Search Engine Marketing
- Data Visualization
- Medical Coding
- Event Planning
- Legal Research
- Quantitative Research
- Risk Management
- Inventory Management
- Quality Assurance
- Construction Management
- Environmental Analysis
- Lean Manufacturing
- Information Security
- Supply Chain Management
- Rehabilitation Therapy
5 Top Adaptive Skills for a Resume
Adaptive Skills are the skills you have in self-discipline and self-regulation, which enable you to adapt to new situations.
- Stress Management: This involves identifying things that cause you stress, and then developing coping strategies to work through the issues without interfering with your productivity. In other words, it requires maintaining performance under pressure.
Ideal For: Event Planner, ER Nurse, Chef
- Flexibility: This is the ability to adapt to new situations and changes in the work environment, including if something surprising comes up that you need to instantly address, and changing course if initial feedback shows you’re off track.
Ideal For: Consultant, Photographer, Flight Attendant
- Self-Motivation: This involves the ability to persevere through tasks with your eye keenly trained on your goals. If someone is good at remaining intrinsically motivated, they generally can work independently and take initiative (i.e. don’t constantly need external direction or encouragement).
Ideal For: Freelancer, Commission-based Work, Sales Representative
- Patience: This involves maintaining composure in the face of delays, obstacles, or challenging individuals, and the capacity to remain focused and persistent over the long term.
Ideal For: Kindergarten Teacher, Customer Service Agent, Psychologist
- Persistence: This is the ability to continue striving to achieve a goal despite facing difficulties and setbacks. Employers want to see this in job roles where you’re doing very difficult long-running projects that might be ‘slow burns’.
Ideal For: Fundraiser, Scientist, or Author.
List of Additional Adaptive Skills
- Attention to Detail
Read Also: Strongest Attributes to List on your Resume
So, What Skills Should you Put on your Resume?
Choosing which skills to put on your resume is a strategic process. Start by thoroughly reading the job description.
The listed requirements will give you a good indication of what skills are needed for the role.
Next, consider the industry you’re applying in. Certain skills may hold more weight in specific industries. This is particularly true for job-related and hard skills (as listed above).
For instance, data analysis would be a valuable skill in the tech industry, whereas SEO might be more crucial in marketing roles.
Often, it’s best to prioritize hard skills relevant to the job, but don’t overlook soft skills, especially during the interview process. While hard skills showcase your technical knowledge and training, soft skills provide insight into your personality and this is often the differentiating factor when the employer is making up their mind.
Transferable skills might be important to highlight if you’re in the process of changing industries or roles. The question you should ask is: what strengths and unique perspectives can I bring from my previous industry that can help give my employer an advantage over their competition?
Lastly, when listing your skills, provide context where possible. For example, don’t just mention that you have leadership skills; provide an anecdote of when you successfully led a team and what you did as a team leader to achieve success.
This makes your skills more credible and compelling to a potential employer.
Of course, many of the above ‘types of skills’ overlap. But categorizing them into these three groups helps us to conceptualize what skills we want to demonstrate.
At the end of the day, you need to highlight skills that you personally know are your strengths, and then focus on how you can sell them as desirable in the workplace you’re applying to become a part of. Don’t forget to use anecdotes to show rather than tell them of your capabilities!
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]