What Skills Should I Include on My Resume?

We’ve all asked this question before, right? You’re writing your resume, and then you get stumped by the “skills” section. Am I really skilled at anything? If I am, what’s important to include and what should I leave off?

Here’s 3 questions to ask yourself about the skills you include on your resume:

1. Is this skill relevant to the job I’m applying for? If you’re applying for a job as a salesperson but you’re extremely skilled in painting watercolors, you should feel fairly confident that you can leave that little tidbit off your resume. If you’re applying for the same job and you’re skilled in graphic design, though, you may want to include it because that is a skill that could potentially be relevant for marketing purposes. Definitely include skills that you have that are listed in the job description, and always use the exact spelling and capitalization that the job description uses. Relevance is more of a continuum than a binary decision, so be subjective as you think about your skills. Still, you’ll want to think carefully about both your skills and the job you’re applying for.

2. Is this skill unique? You want your skills to set you apart from the other applicants. Now this doesn’t mean that if anyone else has your skill, you shouldn’t include it, but it does mean that you want to use skills that set you apart partly because they’re unique and partly because you’re highly skilled in that area. For example, don’t put Microsoft Office on your resume because literally everyone should know how to do something with Microsoft Office. If you know how to use Excel really well, however, that’s somewhat unique and you should include it. Similarly, if you know a certain coding or query language or if you know how to use a particular software in your industry, those may be unique skills to include. Try to include skills that will make the reader place you in a different category from the other applicants.

3. Is this a soft skill or a hard skill? Hard skills are teachable and easily quantifiable while soft skills are more subjective and more difficult to quantify. For example hard skills may be editing, computer programming, speaking a foreign language, or graphic design. Soft skills may be communication, teamwork, leadership, or public speaking. Try to include some of both in your resume to show that you have unique, relevant skills that will directly set you apart for the job but also that you have general skills that will help you relate to others and represent your character and work ethic.

Be tactful when including skills on your resume. You want them to pop out at the reader and confirm that you are uniquely qualified for the position you’re applying for. We're pros at this, so let us craft your skills section for you. Check out our services here.