Do You Know How to Make Your Resume Skills Section the Best It Can Be?

One goal of your resume is to be listed high in searches, whether those are conducted by employers on LinkedIn or job boards, via a company’s applicant tracking system or simply as a hiring manager shuffles through applications.

It’s tempting to inflate the resume skills section by adding in more information and extra keywords from the job posting. But that approach can quickly turn off readers if the information you include isn’t relevant to the potential employer. 

So, rule No. 1 when writing your resume skills section: Get to the point. Wordiness is not the goal. 

Here are four other tips you can use to maximize this section of your resume: 

1. Don’t be cute 

Some job seekers try to include amusing or clever examples in the resume skills section, such as “strong coffee-making abilities” or “ability to fix tricky paper jams.” But being cute is a pet peeve of many recruiters and resume screeners. 

2. Illustrate your soft skills

Communication, leadership and interpersonal skills are very important to employers today and well worth listing in the resume skills section. Companies want to know that potential hires can successfully mesh with the existing team and excel within the organization’s corporate culture.

But soft skills hold little weight if unsubstantiated. Offer examples of how you’ve used your soft skills in the work experience section of your resume or in your cover letter. For instance, to clarify your leadership skills, you might cite your record of leading a 10-person team that reduced operating expenses by 15 percent. Or you might quantify the value of your interpersonal skills by reporting that you reduced customer complaints 25 percent. 

3. Be precise

Be sure to tailor your resume to each position. An accountant’s list of skills might include financial research, analysis and reporting. However, when targeting a particular job opening, add appropriate specifics. For example, if you have experience in investment banking, when applying for a portfolio specialist position, you might include “use software tools to research investment products” and “prepare industry analyses for HNWI (high-net-worth individuals)” among your resume skills — if, of course, they are actually skills you have.

4. Eliminate unrelated skills  

Are you still listing “CPR and first aid” in your resume skills section from your summer as a lifeguard? Be ruthless about weeding things out. The same goes for experience using old software. It can make you sound out-of-date. And don’t list basic technical or administrative support skills when you’re now heading a department or leading a team. For potential employers, this is not simply irrelevant. It can also be a resume red flag suggesting that you don’t really understand the position you’re applying for. 

Most job seekers include a laundry list of skills on their resumes, which are often irrelevant to their current career pursuits. By optimizing your resume skills section, you can maximize the response of resume reviewers.