The Best Way to List Skills on Your Resume

Posted January 31, 2016

Often added as an afterthought, the skills section of a resume is something hiring managers take seriously - particularly in the IT, trades and other skills-specific fields.

The skills section serves as a sort of reservoir for the valuable skills you have that either couldn't be provided in your work history, or you feel need extra emphasis. Far from an afterthought, the skills section is the first place hiring managers look.

When done right, a skills section should show what you are capable of doing on day one. The section, when done right, can jump off the page and give you an advantage over other candidates.

What skills to list

When deciding what skills to list, put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager and figure out what skills you would like to see. If you are applying for different kinds of positions, adjust your skills section accordingly. The job description for a particular job posting is a good place to start when trying to determine what a hiring manager is looking for in a candidate's skills.

Where possible, quantify your skills with facts and figures. For example, if you are going to list word processing - give your words-per-minute speed.

Omit any skills that won't help your chances of getting a particular job. Try to stick to hard skills, like C++ programming, and only list soft skills if your section looks particularly barren.

Organization and formatting

If you have only a few skills, organization won't be a big deal. However, if you have five or more, organize your skills - using bullet points - into common-sense groups. For instance, group your computer skills together, and then put your leadership skills in a separate grouping.

The skills section is usually set at the middle or bottom, but if you are in a skill-specific industry or trade,  you may want to list your technical skills separately and at the top of your resume.

Examples of soft skills you may want to list

As mentioned before, be sure to list all of your hard skills, like computer programming or electrical wiring installation. If your skills section still looks a little thin after listing every hard skill you can think of, you may want to pepper in a few soft skills.

Some examples of these skills include:

Communication - regularly contributed to the decision-making process and built strong relationships across many organizations.

Leadership - helped train new employees and stepped in to handle managerial tasks when the situation called for me to do so.

Critical thinking - implemented cost-saving methods and improvements that boosted productivity.

Be sure you can back up the soft skills you list with concrete examples, anecdotes and quantifiable facts. For example, if you increased productivity with an automated process, give the amount of time saved over the course of days, months or years.

If your resume needs to be looked over by someone with years of job market experience, feel free to contact Ambassador, one of the leading employment firms in the South. We can check your resume for potential improvements to help in your job search.