Ch. 5: Skills for Your Resume
In addition to your qualifications listed under each job posting, your resume should include a skills section to highlight other areas of expertise that you've developed along the way. Skills for your resume can include things like fluency in a foreign language, the mastery of a particular computer program, your ability to connect with people and build relationships, or anything else you can think of that your prospective employer may find valuable in a candidate.
Listing skills on a resume isn’t complicated, but should be done with the same care as everything else in the document. It's important to speak to your strengths and demonstrate what you've done with those skills. Employers are looking for someone to solve their problem and they want results.
What is a Resume Skills Section?
This section typically is shown after your "Experience" section and is labeled as "Additional Skills," "Further Skills," "Proficiencies," or simply as "Skills." The section is meant to supplement your experiences with other useful capabilities you've developed along the way, that apply to the position you're applying to.
It's important to stay relevant throughout your resume, but especially in the resume skills section. Many think that including filler to make the resume seem not so empty is the way to go, but it is a definitely a mistake. Don't be afraid of white space. Again, your resume is a marketing tool used to land the interview, and nothing more.
Cluttering it with irrelevant subjects will just make it more difficult for the reader to extract the information they need, making you look unprofessional in the process.
Any skill that you can transfer to your new project is important to prospective employers. Transferrable skills could be anything acquired from an old job to skills obtained from hobbies, sports, volunteering, etc.
Demonstrate what you’ve learned and speak to those skills that are relevant to the position. Target the skills specifically, even if it doesn't relate to the job; if it is relevant to what you will do at the job then include it.
For instance, you climbed K2; not only is that impressive, but it shows you have determination, drive, perseverance, are physically fit, set high goals, and reached your goals—and you didn’t have to specifically say any of that; you demonstrated it. All of those skills are transferrable to the workplace and will impress the employer.
These are the skills that are needed for the job you want. If you are applying for a nursing job, you need to speak to what skills and qualifications you have that applies to the position. These are most likely found in your most recent position, schooling, or training, and the more fine-tuned your career becomes, the more apparent they'll be.
Add the most relevant first and all the additional skills later. Organize a list, bulleted or not, just like you would under your job responsibilities, and demonstrate something you accomplished using those skills.
Skills for Your Resume
Below are the main areas in which your resume skills section should revolve around. Each of these are vital, but only some will be applicable to the position in which you are applying.
The best place to start when determining which of these you should focus on is the job posting itself. Within the posting, you should be able to gather the most important experience and skills necessary to perform the responsibilities of the position.
Identify the most needed skills and take a targeted approach in not only explaining that you have those skills, but how you've used those skills in the past, specifically.
How well do you assess situations and pinpoint the problems? This skill is greatly desired by employers as it works hand-in-hand with your reasoning and problem-solving skills to solve potential issues that arise quickly and efficiently.
These skills involve quickly gathering information and searching for differing perspectives to come up with solutions. List examples of how you've assessed situations in the past, identified the core issue, and created and implemented solutions to those problems.
Nearly all positions today requires some degree of proficiency with a computer. Do you know how to type, use Microsoft Office (be specific with each program you can use), use Google and all of it’s apps? —and demonstrate how you have used these tools and devices and accomplished something. The most important among basic technical skills, across all jobs, include:
These skills generally revolve around problem-solving and finding solutions to the various issues that may arise in your position. Your value to the employer is increased with each problem you can solve for them, further securing your job.
If you are great a solving problems in a particular area, highlight what you've done in the past to solve the issues that arose for your former employers.
This is one of the most highly-mentioned skills that employers want to see in candidates. They value communication and social skills because they want employees that will fit well into the dynamic of their workplace and be relatable to customers and/or patients.
This category also includes your proficiency with foreign languages, your ability to maintain patient or client relationships, and how you openly resolve issues that arise with your coworkers. Writing, email, listening, or speech, add this to your skills section by including an example of how you've used your communication skills to accomplish a goal for a former employer.
How up to par are your planning skills? Employers want well-organized candidates that will be able to juggle the potentially hectic days that will inevitable arises in your future position.
Unorganized employees are much less productive, essentially costing the employer much more to maintain. If you've organized events, maintained schedules or calendars, or set and met goals for your past employers, include it on your resume.
The majority of today's positions require working with a team of like-minded individuals to accomplish goals, so it's vital to have the skills to work well with others. This skill relates closely with your communication skills and should be highlighted alongside them.
You can even portray both, simultaneously, within one bullet point, killing two birds with one stone. If you've built trust with a group or a team, set goals with that group, and accomplished them together, list that as an example of how well you work with others.
How adaptable are you as an employee? Adaptability involves your availability during unconventional hours, such as on-call shifts, your ability to stay open minded and grasp diverse concepts, setting priorities, and your ability to flow with an evolving workplace. Employers are looking for candidates that can stay on their toes by keeping up with advancing technologies and unforeseen changes to the environment.
What they do not want is someone who's stuck in their ways and incapable of change. To show adaptable you are, use an example from past employment where you thrived when the status quo was shaken up or where you had to quickly change course and successfully completed the project or goal despite the change. Show how you manage and dominate change.
How well do you manage conflict or inspire others to greater heights? Interpersonal skills relate close to teamwork and communications, and can sometimes be shown through the same example, leaving more space for other skills or achievements. As with teamwork, employers are looking for candidates that will fit in well with their current team and that can work well with others.
They are not looking for someone who will disrupt the current environment and cause conflict. To portray your interpersonal skills, show how you've mediated a conflict in the past, either between coworkers or patients/customers/clients, or how you've inspired others to achieve a goal that, without your insight, would not have done so.
Leadership skills revolve around your ability to take charge and manage others, and leading them to meet specific goals or priorities successfully. Although some people are natural-born leaders, everyone has some degree of leadership skill, whether they know it or not. Most employers don't just want an individual who will simply come to work, do their job, and go home.
Many are looking for candidates that will go above and beyond their expectations, offering much more than what the employer originally expected of them. Leadership skills should be displayed through examples of past achievements or goals that you led a group or team to meet. Avoid subjective statements like "a goal-driven leader" that include no evidence of your success. Employers won't buy it and you will look bad in the process.
Over the past 30 years, diversity has become an increasingly-important criteria for the workplace, both to employers and to government. Multicultural awareness is very important for the modern workplace and it is vital that you remain open to new concepts and ideas, and demonstrate sensitivity to the cultures of others.
Disagreement is fine, but you must remain professional at all times and remain aware of the differing opinions around you. To show your multicultural strengths, include an example of a situation that you resolved, whether between coworkers or patients/customers/client, and the result of your solution.
The best skills for any resume are those that apply to the position and the company that you're interested in. However, don't go overboard trying to find experiences and skills for each of the above categories.
Try to figure out which of those would be most valuable to the position you're looking into and use examples for each of those. Remember, recruiters and hiring managers are spending less than a minute on each resume they come across, so brevity is your friend here. Avoid being too lengthy, mention only the valuable aspects, and you'll be in good shape.