You’ve created your resume, and you think it’s looking good. You’ve taken advice about good skills to put on a resume, are eager to send it to prospective employers, and feel confident about getting an interview.
Weeks later, you’ve had no response or received a few rejection letters not explaining why you didn’t get an interview. What went wrong?
Creating a resume is no golden secret; anyone can do it. Many free resume templates are available online. There’s also a ton of (conflicting) advice about how to write a resume to get a job.
The trick is not only to create a visually attractive resume but also to understand the best skills to put on your resume.
This guide to the best skills to put on a resume steers you through the process of creating a resume to increase the prospects of securing an interview.
Do you send the same resume with every application?
Even though the job title for ten jobs is the same, that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to submit the same resume for every position. Suppose you’re applying for a blockchain developer role. You may think it’s a natural assumption to list your hard skills as a developer, such as programming languages, understanding of cryptography, security protocols and smart contracts experience.
Yes, of course, your resume must include your hard skills, but with a little more insight, you can create a resume that catches the attention of a future employer.
Good skills to put on a resume
For every job application, study the job description in detail. Visit the company website and find the mission statement. What are the company values? In addition, what sort of language do they use? For instance, is the website content conversational, formal, fun or anything else?
The objective of your resume is to align with the company’s style. Use the language they speak, align with its mission and values and edit your resume to match. Using the principles of psychology helps your resume stand out from hundreds of other applicants.
Use the words and terminology used in the job description. Doing this exercise for every application may seem like hard work, but it significantly increases the odds of getting an interview.
Hard Skills vs Soft Skills
What is most important on your resume? Hard skills or soft skills?
Hard skills are measurable, such as your qualifications, experience and ability.
Examples of 10 hard skills are: –
- Computer programming
- Software Engineering
- Data Analysis
- Project Management
- Systems Analysis
- Academic qualifications (such as a degree in computer science)
- Managing a team
- Statistical Analysis
Today, many companies scan resumes for hard skills, weeding out any application not listing relevant skills necessary for the job.
Soft skills are more challenging to qualify but are more commonly known as “people skills“, the ability to work collaboratively with others.
10 Soft skills examples are: –
- Problem- solving
- Emotional Intelligence
- Effective Communication
- Positive Attitude
- Team Player
There are potentially hundreds of different hard and soft skills. Primarily, focus on matching your skills with the job description.
Which skills are more important?
The most highly qualified candidates on paper may have an impressive list of hard skills. However, if the candidate has poor communication skills, cannot work with a team, has an intolerant attitude or has other limiting soft skills, they may be less likely to get the job.
Why are soft skills necessary?
As workplace stress continues to rise, hiring managers are more likely to hire long-term staff not predisposed to creating drama in the workplace. Employers can train hard skills but teaching soft skills is more of a challenge. If someone is naturally not empathetic, it’s almost impossible for that individual to learn to become more caring towards others.
Your resume must balance soft and hard skills relevant to the job description.
How do you choose what skills to put on a resume?
Study the job description and ensure you list the skills to put on your resume that aligns with the job specification: –
1. Make a list of your best skills
Firstly, reflect on everything you have done to date, your professional experience, academic qualifications and applying your hard skills in the workplace.
Secondly, reflect on your soft skills. What are your best attributes when engaging with others? How have you interacted in a team environment? Are you a leader or a follower? How have you navigated workplace conflict? Ask colleagues for feedback if you are unsure of your soft skills.
2. The “must have” skills to put on your resume
Compare your skills with the required skills on the job specification. Make a list if it helps. If your skills match, great, these are the “must haves” to include in your application.
3. Tailor your resume relevant to the position
Submitting a generic resume is a waste of your time. If you want an interview, you must tailor your resume to present it as what the company is looking for in a candidate. Take time to research the company, check out social media pages, YouTube channel and the website. Read any whitepapers and PR material.
Yes, it’s a lot of work to do this for every application, but the more you know about the company, the better. Researching the company can uncover clues about what hiring managers want from their employees, which means you can tailor your resume to be the person they want to hire.
Commit to the research because it allows you to add the best skills to put on a resume to land a job with the company. It’s a valuable exercise for discovering essential soft skills you may not find in a job description.
What if you don’t have the “must have” skills?
If your core competencies are way off from the required skills in the job description, there’s little point in applying for the job. You’re unlikely to get an interview, and you could be channelling your efforts into a job application that matches your skills and experience.
However, it’s worth applying if you believe you can demonstrate the ability to do the job. For instance, suppose the company is asking for a degree as a prerequisite and two years of experience. You don’t have a degree but have three years of quantifiable experience. Give specific examples of your work history for this role on your resume or cover letter.
Companies also list “nice-to-have-skills” on job descriptions. If you don’t have any of those skills, don’t let it put you off from applying. In most cases, these skills are trainable.
How to list skills to put on your resume
There are differing opinions on how to lay out a resume, listing your skills, qualifications and education. Typically, most candidates list their skills once, but the consensus is to scatter the best skills to put on your resume. For instance, you may list your hard and soft skills separately and reiterate them in the resume summary and work experience sections.
Here’s an example: –
- Computer skills
- Project management
- Effective communication
- Team player
Company: ABC Company 1995 – 2010
Position: IT Development Manager
Summary: I project managed building a new intranet using my coding and computer skills, within budget and saving the company 25% on hiring external contractors. When the system got hacked, I resolved the issue quickly. I worked closely with my team for the project and presented ideas and solutions to the board of directors every week.
The above summary includes all six skills listed, showing the hiring manager how you applied your skills to the job.
Where to position the skills to put on a resume
You may arrange your skills differently for every application. For instance, if a job description highlights three prerequisite skills, such as computer science, smart contracts and app development, place them at the top of your resume and in the same order listed on the job specification.
The following job might list smart contracts, blockchain development and programming languages, so change your resume to place these skills at the top and scatter them throughout the resume as work examples.
Knowing where to place your skills and experience can be tricky because it depends on what hiring managers want from candidates. Some companies value experience over qualifications, whilst others value academic credentials more highly. As mentioned earlier, the only way to establish what hiring managers want is to research the company.
Conclusion: 10 best skills to put on a resume
Remember that there aren’t 10 best skills to put on a resume because every job is different. The best skills required for a blockchain developer are not the same as for an IT support role.
For every application, tailor your resume to align with the job description. Select the relevant skills and highlight them throughout your resume, mentioning the application of the skills in the summary and on-the-job work experience sections of your resume.
It can be disheartening sending out dozens of applications and never receiving a response. If you follow the guidelines in this post, there’s no guarantee of an interview, but you are increasing the odds in your favour.
Few candidates take the time to tailor their resumes for every job application. They send the same resume to all hiring managers, failing to differentiate themselves from other candidates. Why be the same as everyone else? You’re only going to get the same results.
How about skills for a job application?
If the company doesn’t ask for a resume but wants you to complete an application instead, then it’s a bit different. There’s no scope for modifications. The best thing to do is print off and refer to the job specification.
Focus on the “must haves” and try to filter them into the application in the work experience sections. Use the words and terminology in the job description, so the hiring manager quickly picks up relevance when scanning hundreds of resumes.
How long should a resume be?
There’s a fine line between cramming in all necessary information and not adding enough detail to a resume. The objective is to be succinct but to detail that your skills and experience match the job description. If you have thirty years of work experience, your resume will likely be longer than a recent college graduate with one year of experience.
How to lay out a Resume?
Your resume should be easy to read. You can either create a resume from an online template or a simple Word document, which you can convert to a PDF if required. Aim for clean lines, so the text aligns. Use headings, bullet points, and bold any text you feel is essential. Print off a copy of your resume before applying for a job so that you can check the print quality.
Do I need to proofread my resume?
100% yes. Mistakes on your resume are distracting especially if the hiring manager is pedantic about spelling mistakes, bad grammar, punctuation or text alignment. If you’ve spent a lot of time working on your resume, it can he helpful to ask someone else to check it for you before you submit it to the company.