Applying for a job can feel like a game of chance, but it doesn't have to be this way. According to Business News Daily editor Nicole Fallon, "a degree from a prestigious university or an impressive roster of past employers can certainly make a good impression, but the real test of a candidate's fit is how well his or her skills align with the position at hand." Take control and make your strengths and abilities shine by adding a special skills section to your resume or job application.
Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills
While it might seem like every employer prefers a different resume format, they all seek two main skill sets: soft skills and hard skills. It's important to incorporate both in your application materials.
Soft skills are applicable to every job. They include interpersonal communication, time management, problem solving, critical thinking, and other qualities and personality traits that help you succeed in the workplace. Soft skills are also called transferable skills, as you can use them regardless of industry, profession or position.
Hard skills are specific to a field and can be learned, evaluated and measured. Your competencies in these areas indicates whether you will be successful with specific tasks related to a job. Hard skills include Web or graphic design, computer programming, writing and editing, finance, accounting and more.
Remember that human resource departments screen dozens of applications every day, so state your skills as briefly as possible and include only the skills most relevant to the position for which you're applying.
Listing Soft Skills
Soft skills can be summarized as a bulleted list at the top of your resume, but are most effective when incorporated into the body of your professional experience. "If you have 'problem solving' and 'critical thinking' in your resume," writes Fallon in Business News Daily, "you should tie those skills into your explanation of job duties and how those specific skills played an important part." Here are a few ways you can describe your soft skills:
Planning and Organization: For positions that involve a high-level of detail, planning and organization, quantify key project achievements and timelines. For example, a magazine production manager might say, "Managed six quarterly and seven annual publications from acquisitions to editing, design, proof and print for a readership of 250,000+ business students, meeting 100 percent of editorial deadlines."
Management and Leadership: If you're applying for a position in management, highlight key leadership accomplishments. For example, a creative director for an ad agency might say, "Directed a team of three production artists to design and pitch creative campaign that secured a two-year, $2 million direct mail account with Volkswagen."
Listing Hard Skills
Hard skills are best summarized in a bulleted list or table at the top of your resume below an objective or introductory section, or at the bottom of your resume below professional experience. Your hard skills section might look as follows:
SKILLS Writing/Editing: Published | Proficient: CMS | Experienced: APA | Working knowledge: AP and MLA Design: Proficient: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop | Working knowledge: Premiere Pro Tech/Software: Proficient: Word, PowerPoint, MAC, PC | Experienced: Excel and Dreamweaver Web: Proficient: Vertical Response, MailChimp, Social Media, CMS | Experienced: HTML, XML
Listing Skills on a Job Application
If you're applying for a job that uses a paper or online application system, it often includes an "Other" section in which you can list additional information not covered in the form. You may also be given the option to upload or attach your resume at the end of the application process.
Whether you submit your application online, through email or in person, never miss an opportunity to highlight your specials skills and unique job qualifiers.