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Do You Know the Essential Job Skills For a Resume?

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Your resume is where you get to show employers all you’ve done and can do, including work experience, education, internships, volunteering, certifications and awards, and your skills. Understanding the right job skills for a resume requires a mix of pulling out your strengths, what the role requires, and what else you think the employer is looking for. So, how do you decide what skills to put on your resume? Do you know the essential job skills to include?

First, we’ll get a sense of your knowledge about the right job skills for a resume and how to use them. Then, we’ll give you expert advice on what skills to include and why.

Essential Job Skills For a Resume Quiz

Do you know what skills you need to include on a resume (and which ones you don’t)? You’ll need to sign-up to see the right answers, but it’s absolutely free!

1. True or false: You should only include skills you've used in the last year on your resume.
2. What's the best strategy for choosing what skills to include in a specific job application?
3. Where should you put your skills on your resume?
4. Which of the following is an example of a valuable soft skill in most jobs?
5. When listing a soft skill on your resume, it's best to…
6. When listing a technical skill on your resume, it's best to…
7. How often should you update your resume's skills section?
8. True or false: You should customize the skills on your resume based on the industry and job you're applying for.
9. What's the best strategy for describing skills on your resume?
10. True or false: Including a "skills" section on your resume is optional.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What Are The Best Job Skills for a Resume?

Now that you’ve taken the quiz and know the best practices for including job skills on a resume, which should you include?

Job Skills for a Resume: Soft Skills

No matter what industry you’re applying to, include your soft skills. Soft skills are interpersonal skills that help employers learn what kind of worker you are. Do you work well with others? Are you a proactive communicator? A teamplayer? A champion? A leader?

“Soft skills remain crucial for students despite the increasing emphasis on technical expertise in the job market,” says Candace Amos, career coach. “Rather than simply listing these as bullet points, students should vividly illustrate how they’ve applied these skills. Providing detailed accounts of their contributions and the positive outcomes achieved on previous teams is crucial.”

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However, Amos warns not to include every soft skill.

“Certain soft skills, like having a positive attitude and being a team player, are considered implicit and may make a jobseeker appear inexperienced,” she says. “Instead of listing these as skills, students should concentrate on showcasing tangible examples that highlight their positive attitude and collaborative spirit throughout their experiences.”

Soft Skills Examples

So, what soft skills can you include on your resume? Examples include:

Job Skills for a Resume: Hard Skills

Hard skills are any quantifiable skill that you can learn. You might think of them as technical skills, which is true, but they also include skills like computer skills, writing skills, and business skills. So, which ones should you include?

First, look at the job description to see what kinds of hard skills the employer is looking for. You’re more likely to find hard skills directly listed within job descriptions, and the employer might also include specific technologies or tools they want. 

Next, match these hard skills with the ones that you have. Never include a hard skill you don’t actually know; there’s a chance you’ll not only get asked questions about it in the interview but also need to prove your proficiency in a technical interview test. 

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It’s essential to focus on hard skills that show your value, especially skills that might be harder to attain. 

“Avoid adding general skills that everyone should have,” Logan Nguyen, co-founder and CMO who oversees recruitment for NCHC, a health and wellness magazine. “This is especially important when applying for a tech role. Instead, mention specific skills that will make you stand out from other applicants.”

For example, you only need to include Microsoft Office if the job description explicitly calls it out; this is a more general skill that most employers would assume you have.

Finally, consider if you have any “trendy” hard skills that might apply to the job. For example, in the current era of automation and AI, it doesn’t hurt to include any productivity or AI tools you’ve used.

“In-demand hard skills include AI prompt engineering, automation strategy, and data analysis,” Amos says. “Students should showcase proficiency in tools such as ChatGPT, Bard, Zapier, and Google Analytics on their resumes. Linking to specific projects allows them to demonstrate the practical application of these skills, bringing their capabilities to life.”

>>MORE: Learn how to create an online portfolio.

Being ahead of technological trends shows you’re up to date with the industry, can learn quickly, and have a growth mindset.

Hard Skills Examples

What other hard skills can you include on your resume? Examples include:

  • A/B testing
  • Accounting
  • Antivirus programs
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Auditing
  • Blockchain
  • Bookkeeping
  • Budgeting
  • Calculating business metrics, like profit margins
  • Coding and programming, such as JavaScript or Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • Computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Copywriting
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) programs 
  • Database management 
  • Data mining
  • Data presentation and visualization
  • Editing
  • Email marketing
  • Forecasting
  • Foreign languages
  • Google Analytics and Google Search Console
  • Google Suite programs
  • Graphic design
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Negotiating
  • Network administration
  • Payroll programs
  • Point of sale programs
  • Press release writing
  • Project management
  • Prototyping
  • Python
  • Regression analysis and modeling 
  • Research
  • Sales
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media
  • Social media marketing
  • Spreadsheets
  • Structured Query Language (SQL or Sequel)
  • Technical troubleshooting
  • Transcription
  • Translation and transliteration
  • Typing
  • Typography 
  • User experience (UX) design 
  • User research
  • Web analytics
  • Writing 

Essential Job Skills for a Resume: The Bottom Line

The most critical job skills for a resume are a mix of what the employer is looking for and what skills you have. To determine what skills to include on your resume, look at the job description first, then compare that to the skills you already have. 

Once you’ve determined the right skills, how you include them is crucial. Don’t just throw everything under a skills section and call it a day. Instead, illustrate the impact you’ve had while using these skills: a soft skill like attention to detail to reduce errors by 50% in social media copy or a hard skill like data analysis to inform marketing strategies and increase reach by 20%.

Your skills — both hard and soft skills — are a great way to show an employer who you are, what kind of work you do, and how you work with others. Don’t hide them! Use them to your advantage.

Image credit: Canva

Zoe Kaplan is a Senior Writer at Forage. Prior to joining Forage, she wrote and edited career and workplace content for Fairygodboss, the largest career community for women.

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