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How to List Skills on a Resume

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Land Your Next Job With an Outstanding Skills Section on Your Resume

It's a no-brainer. A resume showing strong experience and sharp skills can help you land a better-paying position. Most larger companies use screening software to scan your resume first. If it meets the company's criteria, a human will see it next. If that person thinks you look great on paper, you'll likely get an interview and a foot in the door. So, prepare to get resume savvy so you can land the sort of work situation you and your family need.

How to Write a Great Resume Headline

Tailoring your resume to get past screening software can get yours in the “yes” pile for a hiring manager to look at. Some screening software will reject your resume simply because you use an old format with a header that simply includes your name, address and contact information. Instead, make a custom headline that mentions your best skills. For example, an accountant's resume could read “Goal-Oriented Senior Accountant With 10 Years of Accounting Experience.”

Put your headline in title case, use keywords for the job you're applying for, write a new specific title for each job listing and be concise. The idea you are trying to convey should catch the attention of both the screening hardware and a hiring manager.

How to List Skills on a Resume

Tailor your skills section to mirror the keywords that are in the job description. It is likely the screening software is looking for the exact keywords that appeared in the job listing, so doing this helps get you through screening.

First list your most important skills and accomplishments that directly relate to the job opening. For extra impact, add specifics to your statements. For example, instead of simply noting that you worked with budgets, state that you managed a budget of $250,000.

Instead of stating that you worked as a purchasing agent, mention that, as a purchasing agent, you saved your company as much as $10,000 annually.

Hard skills that apply to the job should be listed first. Hard skills are job-specific, such as computer or IT skills, accounting, customer service or administrative skills.

Next list your soft skills. This includes communication skills and interpersonal skills that enable you to be a successful employee in the workplace. Consider using bullet points for all skills to make your best qualities easy to find when your resume is scanned.

How to List Skills on a Resume in a Format

Three types of formats are used in a resume: chronological, functional and combination. The chronological format lists work history in reverse chronological order with your most recent work history at the top. A functional format is organized by your experience and focuses on your skills.

Combination resumes are a mixture of the chronological and functional formats, which includes chronological listing and a combination of sections that focus on your skill sets.

The functional format is the best to use if you have gaps in employment or have worked at several types of jobs not relevant to the position you're applying for.

How to List Skills on a Resume—Examples

For a chronological resume:

  • Headline
  • Summary overview: List your hard and soft skills in sentences while focusing on your strengths.
  • Professional experience: List the company name, dates employed and your title, using bullet points for all of the duties you performed at each company from the most recent to the oldest.
  • Education and training: List your degrees and where they were earned, along with any other training classes you've taken.
  • Awards and commendations

For a functional resume:

  • Headline
  • Summary: List your hard and soft skills in sentences while focusing on your strengths.
  • Professional accomplishments: List your skills. Without mentioning the company or dates worked, state how past duties made use of these skills.
  • Work history: List your title, name of the company and dates you worked at each job.

For a combination resume:

  • Headline
  • Objective: Tell the employer why you want to work for them and state the skills that would make you a good fit.
  • Summary of qualifications: List all hard skills from past jobs that apply to this job.
  • Major strengths: List all soft skills in this section.
  • Professional accomplishments: Give a detailed description of all duties from past jobs.
  • Work history: List your title, company name and years worked at each job.
  • Education: List degrees you hold and the university you attended.

What to Leave off Your Resume

You of course want to list all your skills on your resume to prove you're the best candidate for the job. But, don’t list skills you've used only occasionally. If asked about them in an interview, revealing your lack of real experience applying them can knock you out of consideration.

Don’t list obsolete skills such as outdated computer software programs. A prospective employer doesn’t care that you were once proficient in MS-DOS when Windows is the software in use now.

Do not list skills that aren’t relevant to the job you're applying for. A hiring manager needs to see only the skills needed for this job, not every skill you’ve gained in your life.

Other Considerations

It's important to choose the right font to get past the filtering software. Use conservative fonts such as Verdana, Calibri or Arial. Times Roman and Cambria fonts are sometimes rejected.

Use at least an 11-point font in the body of your resume, and don't use a script font. Do not include logos, graphics, borders, lines that cross the page horizontally or tables in your resume. The best margin to use to get you past the filtering software is a 1-inch margin at both top and bottom.