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 it 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, because employers are looking for someone to solve their problem(s), and they want results from achieving individuals.
What is a Resume Skills Section?
The skills section of a resume is typically shown after your "Experience" section and is traditionally labeled as "Additional Skills," "Further Skills," "Proficiencies," or simply as "Skills." The skills section is meant to supplement your experiences with other useful capabilities you've developed along the way, as long as they apply to the position you're applying to.
It's important to stay relevant throughout your resume, but especially in the resume skills section. It is here that many think that including filler or fluff — 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. 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.
Your resume is a marketing tool used to land the interview, and provide important information in how you related your skills are for the open position. The skills section of a resume is a great way to make yourself stand out from other candidates who might have more experience, but don’t have the same skills that you might have.
If you have a greater set of skills than recruiters and hiring managers might ignore the experience difference and push your name forward to the next step regardless.
If you are marketing yourself in a true, to-the-point, and stellar light, then you’ve done all you can.
Scope Out The Competition
One great way to figure out which skills you should include on your resume is to scope out the competition. In other words, once you figure out a potential position you’d like to apply to, research other individuals on LinkedIn who hold the position or a similar position.
Scoping out others and seeing which skills they include on their resume will help provide some additional guidance to you and your potential skills addition to your resume.
In addition, you can see what skills you have that others are not including for the same positions, and set yourself apart by showcasing how you are more qualified.
Any skill that you can transfer to your new project or team in your career is important to prospective employers. Transferable skills could be anything acquired from an old job to skills obtained from hobbies, sports, volunteering, and more.
Demonstrate what you’ve learned and speak to the 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.
In addition, it’s always a good idea to bring up some of these skills on your resume in the interview to once again drive home the point of how those skills would be useful for the respective position.
For instance, let’s say you climbed K2 (the second highest mountain in the world); not only is that impressive, but it shows you have determination, drive, perseverance, are physically fit, set high goals, and systematically work out a process to reach your goals. Employers love those kind of qualities, even if they’re a little unrelated to the specific job at hand, because those skills are transferable to the workplace in one capacity or another.
Job-specific skills are the skills that are related for the job you want. If you are applying for a nursing job, you need to speak to the skills and qualifications you have that apply to that specific position. These job-specific skills are most likely found in your most recent position, schooling, or training. The more fine-tuned your career becomes, the more apparent they'll be.
Display the most relevant job-specific skills first, followed by any additional skills. This can be organized in a list (bulleted or not), just like you would under your job responsibilities. If you’re concerned about the formatting, be sure to check out the Resume Format chapter again to ensure that your resume will easy to read across all display mediums.
Just be sure to 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 hospital or healthcare position in which you are applying.
The best place to start when determining which of these you should focus on is the hospital 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. Going through this extra step will ensure that you tailor the application for each respective position, and increase your chances of being considered further.
How well do you assess situations and pinpoint the problems that you encounter? This skill is greatly desired by employers as it works hand-in-hand with your reasoning and problem-solving skills to quickly and efficiently solve potential issues that may arise.
Analytical skills involve quickly gathering information and searching for differing perspectives to come up with solutions. Employers like to hear some previous experience examples, and you should have a few on hand to easily recall.
List examples of how you've assessed situations in the past, identified the core issue, and created and implemented solutions to those problems that were beneficial to your previous employers or company teammates.
Nearly all positions today require 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 its apps? For extra impact, demonstrate how you have used these tools and devices and accomplished something. The most important among basic technical skills, across all jobs, include:
Some additional technical skills you should use if the healthcare position calls on it are skills that are directly related to programs or software tools used in the job’s daily routine. Having a proficiency in the programs the hospital or healthcare company uses will help set yourself apart from others who might have a learning curve.
Reasoning 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 at solving problems in a particular area, highlight what you've done in the past to solve the issues that arose for your former employers. During the interview process, answering questions related to problem solving or reasoning challenges often comes up.
If you do decide to put reasoning or problem solving as a skill on your resume, make sure to come up with a few examples you can be prepared to highlight in the next step of the process.
This is one of the most highly-mentioned skills that employers want to see in candidates. With so many healthcare and hospital positions that require solid communication skills, it is an important one to highlight on your resume. 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. If you are one of the few individuals who are proficient in multiple languages, be sure to include the foreign language proficiency as a defining communication skill, as it will open plenty of additional doors for you and your healthcare career.
Whether it’s writing, email, listening, or speech, be sure to add communication to your skills section by including an example of how you've used your communication skills to accomplish a goal for a former employer.
Employers want well-organized candidates that will be able to juggle the potentially hectic days that will inevitably arise 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.
If you've ever created and maintained a team, set and achieved goals amongst a group of people, or simply helped build trust amongst a group of people, write about your part in building and sustaining the idea of teamwork. Let this be an example of how well you work with others.
How adaptable are you as an employee? Adaptability involves your availability and flexibility during unconventional hours (such as on-call shifts), your ability to stay open-minded and grasp diverse concepts, your ability to set and adjust priorities, and your ability to flow with an evolving workplace. Employers are always looking for candidates that can keep up with advancing technologies and unforeseen changes to their work environment.
What they do not want is someone who's stuck in their ways and incapable of change. Answering one or two questions about situations in which you had to adapt quickly is often a popular interview question, and you can help set yourself apart by including it on your resume and showcasing to employers that you have in fact dealt with unfamiliar situations in the past.
To show how adaptable you are, use an example from one of your previous jobs in which you thrived when the status quo was shaken up, or use an example of when you had to quickly change course but 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 closely to teamwork and communications, and can sometimes be shown through the same example, leaving more space for other skills or achievements.
In other words, you don’t need to put interpersonal skills on your resume, as it is something you can display in the future steps of the application and consideration process.
As with teamwork, employers are looking for candidates that will fit in well with their current team and can work well with others and won’t be a distraction or cause disruption to the current team dynamics. Employers and hiring managers are looking for individuals who can bolster teams that are already working as a well-tuned machine.
They are not looking for someone who will disrupt the current work 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. Alternatively, show how you've inspired others to achieve a goal that, without your insight, would not have been accomplished.
Leadership skills revolve around your ability to take charge and manage others, including your ability to lead them to meet specific goals or priorities in a successful manner. Although some people are natural-born leaders, everyone exhibits some degree of leadership, whether they know it or not. Take a moment to look inside yourself to discover when you’ve either led by action or example, to move others to do something great.
Most employers don't just want an individual who will simply come to work, do their job, and go home. Instead, 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," or other statements that include no evidence of your success; employers just won't buy it.
Over the past 30 years, diversity has become an increasingly-important criteria for the workplace. Multicultural awareness is very important for the modern workplace and it is vital that you remain open to new concepts and ideas, as well as to 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.
Skills You Should Avoid On Your Resume
Now that we’ve covered skills that you should include on your resume, there are also several that you should avoid mentioning for various reasons.
The first set of skills you should avoid putting on your resume is any obsolete skills. These include any skills that are no longer readily-usable or are completely outdated. Be careful not to include obsolete skills. Some job seekers think that including these might be useful to separate yourself from other candidates, but it conveys to employers that you don’t have any other valuable skills that might be more useful to include.
Over Exaggerated Skills
The the second set of skills you should avoid are either over exaggerated skills, or skills that you simply lie about. You don’t want to start off your future with a company based on over-stating what you can realistically add to a company or its respective teams, or lying about your skill set.
Recruiters and hiring managers can often see right through these and including these skills on your resume will only hurt your chances of getting considered further.
The last set of skills you shouldn’t include on your resume are focused on non-relevant skills. As mentioned above, you only want to include relevant skills for the positions that you are applying to. Adding non-relevant skills only confuses the recruiter or hiring manager, and harms your chances of moving forward.
The best skills for any healthcare resume are those that are well-aligned and supplement the position, the hospital, the clinic, or the company that you're interested in. Don't go overboard trying to find experiences and skills for each of the above categories. Instead, 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, most recruiters and hiring managers spend less than a minute reviewing each resume they come across, so brevity is your friend here. Avoid being too lengthy and mention only the valuable aspects of your previously acquired skills, and you'll be in good shape.