- Soft skills can differentiate you from other top candidates, so highlighting them in your resume is a must.
- Use words and phrases that match those in the job listing to get through applicant scanning software.
- Update your resume for each job you apply for, tailoring it to highlight your most relevant work experience.
- Create a skills section to showcase technical abilities that relate to the job, such as software skills.
Salaries are rising, and competition for skilled talent is heating up as companies expand their teams. Although that means it may be easier to find a job, you'll still need a top-notch resume to land the position you want most. Here are some tips to help you highlight skills on your resume to stand out from the competition.
Skills to highlight on a resume
10 examples of hard skills for a resume:
- Data analysis
- Software programs
- Accounting or bookkeeping
- UX or UI design
- Programming languages
- Writing and editing
- Social media management
- Project management
- Writing and communication
- Foreign language fluency
Soft skills, also sometimes referred to as interpersonal skills or emotional intelligence, include traits such as communicating effectively and maintaining a positive attitude to achieve your goals. These are transferrable skills that can make you successful in just about every job.
10 examples of soft skills for a resume:
- Time management
When all else is equal with two candidates – technical skills and experience, for example – it’s your soft skills that can tip the balance in your favor. Many managers say it’s more challenging to teach interpersonal skills than technical skills.
A customer service representative job, for example, would require someone who can demonstrate empathy with customers and genuinely want to help them resolve their concerns. And many jobs require collaboration and the ability to reach out across an organization to resolve complex business issues. Depending on the job, you might note your ability to maintain good relationships with customers or employees at all levels of the company on your resume.
Just keep in mind that your resume should provide examples of how you’ve used both hard and soft skills that are relevant to the job.
Use skills and phrasing from the job description in your resume
Many companies scan resumes and cover letters for keywords they’ve used in their job postings. That’s why you need to write a resume with words and phrases that match their job listing, as long as you actually possess the skills you’re listing, of course.
For example, if an employer is looking for an accountant with experience “processing daily invoices and credit,” use the same language in your resume instead of “gathering receipts.”
Because every job description is different, you’ll need to tailor the skills and words on your resume and cover letter for each position you apply for to give yourself the best chance at an interview.
Create a skills section on a resume
If you’re applying for a position that requires specific technical skills, you can create a skills section that’s visible at the top of your resume and above your professional experience. A senior web developer’s technical skills section might include:
- Operating systems: Unix/Linux and Windows 7/10
- Applications: Photoshop, ColdFusion, Flash and content management systems
- Databases: MySQL, SQL Server, MS Access
Soft skills can also be highlighted in a skills section, or even combined with technical skills in a more general “key skills” or “areas of expertise” section. If these skills are relevant to the job, make sure they are near the top of your resume:
- Programming and design expertise
- Search engine optimization
- Usability expertise
- Web content management
- Project management
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Excellent communicator
Highlight skills throughout your resume
Talk about your abilities in the main “work experience” or “experience” section of your resume, too. Remember to show, not tell. Rather than saying simply that you’re a good communicator, give concrete details. Here are some explanations of common skills that applicants list on a resume and examples of how to present them:
Communication — Focus on your verbal and written communication skills, or your sharp listening abilities. Play up your track record of strong communication with your colleagues, manager, clients and customers, and offer tangible examples:
“Wrote a monthly email newsletter to customers that increased leads by 35 percent.”
Multitasking — Handling several tasks simultaneously is the status quo for many employees today. Note on your resume the types of tasks and situations you've handled regularly — and how you did so calmly and efficiently.
“Juggled multiple projects and project deadlines, and served as the liaison between clients and colleagues, gathering and implementing feedback from both parties for projects with tight turnaround times."
Leadership skills — Whether you’re managing a team or positively influencing colleagues, employers often seek leadership skills in potential hires.
“Lead a 10-person team from different areas of the firm that worked together to succeed in reducing operating expenses by 15 percent.”
Prioritizing — Employees are often tasked with tackling multiple projects at once, and many requests come in on the fly, which requires you to operate with grace under fire. Detail how you prioritize your projects and requests. The last thing an employer wants is an easily flustered employee.
“Smoothly and calmly prioritized multiple web design projects for a team of 20 people in a fast-paced environment.”
Initiative and problem-solving abilities — Prove how essential you've been to past managers by highlighting examples of ways you took the initiative to solve problems and take on special projects. Or perhaps you excel at looking at complicated business issues and bringing creative solutions to the table.
“Implemented new consolidation procedures for monthly and quarterly close, reducing closing time by 30 percent.”
Dependability — It doesn't matter what the job is, hiring managers want people on their team who do what they say they're going to do. Dependability can be particularly important if you're working with outside clients. Missing a deadline can mean lost business and a damaged reputation.
“Completed projects on time or before the deadline, and always followed through on work commitments, leading to greater work responsibilities and an eventual promotion.”
Technical skills — As mentioned above, play up your technical knowledge specific to the job, whether you’re a receptionist or UX designer:
“Developed personas and usage scenarios for a variety of clients in fields including finance, entertainment and law.”
Taking the time to create a unique, targeted resume for each job opportunity that showcases both your hard and soft skills takes some time, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll have a much better shot at making it through applicant tracking software and being asked in for an interview. In addition, you’ll be well-prepared if you do get a job interview. The process of truly thinking about what job skills best apply to the opportunity will help you make a stronger case for yourself in an interview with a hiring manager.