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Resume Tips: Skills To List On Your Resume

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Building a high-quality resume is an art form. It takes time, effort and above all, a strong understanding of what to include and what to leave out. Luckily, resume-writing is an art form that you can learn. Namely, it's important to know which skills to list on your resume and which skills you'd be better off not mentioning, in addition to staying abreast of current resume trends so that you can tailor your resume accordingly.

Resume Tips and Tricks for 2019

If you're struggling with how to write the perfect resume, before delving into which skills you should include, it's important to stay up to date on the latest resume tips and tricks, especially when it comes to length, design, customization and organizing your content. After all, if you don't construct your resume well, chances are that a recruiter may not even see your skills section.

  • Customized Template. Of all the resume tips and tricks for students, this one may be the most important. Whatever you do, do NOT send out a generic resume to a bunch of job postings; employers will not be impressed. Instead, customize each resume to the specific job you're applying to. This demonstrates a passion for the job and shows employers that you understand what they do and why you'd be a good fit for their company. 
  • Length. First, forget what you've heard about the one-page rule (that your resume should be one page, and one page only); in fact, according to ResumeGo, hiring managers and recruiters were 2.3 times as likely to hire two-page resume applicants over similar one-page applicants. No, this doesn't mean you should purposely try to make your resume longer by adding in unnecessary details. Just don't be concerned with trying to cram all your information onto a single page. 
  • Design. Though you may be tempted to showcase your graphic design skills or artistic side on your resume, it's better to opt for a clean, simple layout with clearly delineated sections. Recruiters and employers want to see simplicity, unfussy designs, easy-to-read fonts and bullet points. They don't want to see loud, garish colors, logos or graphics. Simple is best.
  • Content Organization. When it comes to organizing your content, you should always align your most important information along the top corners and the left side of the page; this is where our eyes naturally go when skimming documents. In addition, be sure that your summary statement (the statement that explains how you can fit the employer's needs) goes at the top. This is probably the most attention-grabbing part of your resume, so make sure it's well-crafted and dynamic.

What Are Hard Skills?

You've organized your employment and contact information into neat, clearly marked sections on your resume, you've refrained from using flashy graphics and you've customized each resume that you send out. Now, you're ready to work on the skills section of your resume, which should be a short, curated list of specific skills that set you apart from the crowd. First, note that there are generally two types of skills to list on your resume: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are those that you can learn in school, in books or through courses, like fluency in a foreign language, knowledge of specific computer applications, certifications and accounting. When it comes to listing hard skills, it all depends on your (very specific) industry, role and experience. Remember to keep these skills tailored to the job you're applying for; there's no sense in putting "business software" if you're applying for an English teaching job, for example.

Some examples of good hard skills to include on your resume (if, of course, you have these skills) are product design, project management, bookkeeping, data analysis, search engine optimization (SEO), writing and editing, software proficiency and research skills. Always keep in mind that your resume should provide examples of these hard skills and that those examples should be relevant to the job you want.

What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills, on the other hand, are social and interpersonal skills and personal qualities, like the ability to communicate, lead, come up with creative solutions to problems, multi-task and work within a team environment. In the modern workplace, soft skills are just as important as hard skills; employers want to see that you have both "people" skills and technical knowledge. However, it's not enough to only list out your soft skills; rather, these should be communicated throughout the body of your resume.

Here's an example of what we mean. If, for example, you want to communicate to your potential employer that you have excellent leadership skills, don't just say, "I'm a good leader." Instead, talk about successful projects that you led and list any leadership-centric awards you've received over the years.

Best Soft Skills for Your Resume

Listed below are the best (soft) skills to list on your resume in 2019. Just be careful not to cram all of these in the skills section; pick which ones best represent your abilities. Whichever skills you choose, make sure that you demonstrate these abilities in your past employment and professional experience sections, as well. And most importantly, the skills you list should correspond to the position you're applying for.

1) Communication

Every employer wants to know that you possess strong communication skills, no matter what your role at the company will be. The ability to communicate is the ability to tailor your verbal and written messages to different audiences. It's the ability to work well with others. In short, it's everything.

Some specific examples of communication skills you could include on your resume are public speaking, editing or writing, active listening, interpersonal communication or constructive criticism. From an interpersonal standpoint, you could also mention buzzwords like empathy, patience and flexibility.

2) Teamwork

Teamwork makes the dream work. After all, most jobs require that you work closely with other people, so it's important to demonstrate your ability to work successfully within a team. Recruiters look for employees who can quickly overcome conflicts and disagreements and work with a diverse range of people.

Remember that it's not enough to say, "I enjoy working with a team of people." Rather, talk about a specific example or two of a time when you thrived working on a team or helped achieve a common goal.

3) Organization

If you're a person who prides themselves on their ability to multi-task, monitor progress, develop plans and constantly reevaluate everything (all without losing your cool, of course), now's the time to showcase those skills. Good organizational skills are important to any recruiter.

Think of a specific time when you had to supervise and manage employees, create short- and long-term goals (and develop plans to meet those goals) or help resolve conflicts and include this in your resume. Show off your ability to juggle several things at once; employers will love it.

4) Problem-Solving

If you're highly efficient at solving problems, your resume should reflect that. Problem-solving, and all that goes along with that specific skill set, is sought-after in any workplace. Being able to persist with a project or task and find an innovative solution is a cherished employee trait.

Some related problem-solving skills to include could be the ability to do research, collaboration, communication and keen attention to detail. Remember, the ability to roll with the punches and come up with creative solutions (all while remaining positive and objective) is something all employers are seeking.

5) Leadership and Management

Employers love seeing applicants that demonstrate leadership and managerial skills. Managerial skills are qualities that help you govern both people and tasks, such as the ability to make decisions and delegate tasks and the ability to create a vision and help people to believe in that vision. Some good words to use that suggest you're a leader include "spearheaded," "transformed," and "optimized."

If you want to demonstrate that you have great leadership and managerial skills, be sure to pepper your resume with examples of these skills. Mention a time when you successfully managed a big-scale project and team of people, a time when you were instrumental in group conflict resolution or a time when you had to keep an eye on budgets, schedules and plans.

6) Eagerness to Learn and Grow

No matter what type of position you're applying for, you should always be willing to learn, grow and adapt. Employers don't want to hire someone who's content being stagnant. Also, by demonstrating that you're eager to learn and grow within the company, this implies that you're loyal to the places you work for; this is always a huge plus.

Skills NOT to Mention

It can be just as helpful to know which skills not to mention on your resume as it is to know which skills you should mention. For instance, leave out basic computer skills. A few years ago it would have been fine to list "Microsoft Word" as a skill, but in 2019, this is a no-go; it's expected that you should know how to use Word, email, etc.

Don't bluff your way through your skill section by, say, including a foreign language that you really don't know how to speak, or one that you only studied in high school. Just because you took Spanish as a high school senior doesn't mean you know how to speak the language. Only include languages and other skills that you have true fluency in or have mastered.

And, this should probably go without saying, but you should never, ever exaggerate or lie about your skills. For example (and speaking of foreign languages), if you say that you speak Spanish when you really don't, it's highly likely that you'll get caught in the lie at some point. Also, there's a time and place for comedic relief, but jokes don't belong on your resume; saying something like, "I'm a certified hide-and-seek champ," is inappropriate.

Final Tips for Tailoring Your Skills

Even knowing the specific skills that most employers are looking for, it can still be difficult to know how to tailor your skills accordingly. Here are some tried-and-true ways you can grab the recruiter's attention and be sure you mention the skills they're looking for:

  • Utilize LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a fabulous tool for figuring out what to write in the skills section of your resume. Research profiles of people that have the kind of job you're seeking and make special note of the skills you see listed.
  • Look up similar job descriptions. Don't be afraid to Google similar job descriptions for relevant skills and add those to your list. 
  • Mention keywords. And finally, you should know that many job recruiters use specialized software to comb through resumes; they scan and filter the ones with appropriate keywords. So, be sure to mine the job description, make note of any keywords mentioned and then add these to your skills section. 

References

About the Author

Justine Harrington is based in Austin, where she writes about current trends in workplace wellness, co-working, and millennial career culture. Her work has been published in Forbes, USA Today, Fodor's, Marriott Traveler, SAS Airlines, the Austin American-Statesman, Austin Monthly, and dozens of other print and online publications.