One of the most notable sections that employers evaluate for a prospective employee’s resume is the skills section. They pay particular attention to the skills as these could be the greatest indicator of what an individual can bring to the company, and therefore is a determinant in whether you move ahead in the hiring process.
Hard vs. Soft Skills
An ideal employee will have a healthy mix of hard skills and soft skills when being considered by a potential employer.
Hard skills are those skills that are learned. These are typically technical in nature and are skills that one comes equipped with after attending school, skill-specific training, after a certification program, or from prior employment experience. Hard skills are when an individual is proficient in certain learned, quantifiable, and definable skills such as:
- Typing skill
- Equipment Operation
- Knowledge of a Foreign Language
- Knowledge of a Programming Language
- Particular Software
Soft skills are those skills that are more inherent and apply to and useful in any profession or job. They are often referred to as “social skills” or “people skills” and are less learned and more natural to one’s persona. Some examples of soft skills include:
- Time Management
- Ability to Process Criticism
- People Management Skills
Soft skills are typically personality traits that are harder to learn, unlike hard skills that can be taught, studied, and enhanced. Soft skills often serve to sharpen and improve one’s hard skills. Patience, self-motivation, and attention to detail are typically great tools to enhance one’s software learning and programming skills. This makes soft skills very valuable to employers.
Individuals seeking employment are therefore encouraged to highlight both their best soft and hard skills to be considered a candidate who is valuable and well-rounded. It is important to also reflect on how the two skill types relate to each other and can serve to enhance one another over time.
Identifying Your Best Skills
So how does one determine their top skills for the resume? If you are not sure which skills to highlight, think back to your former employment. What was your strongest area? What would your coworkers say you excelled at? Here are some ideas of how to determine your strongest points:
Think about achievements and awards
Think about the achievements you accomplished and milestones you had been able to meet. Perhaps you have received recognition in some form or were awarded for coming through on a tough assignment promptly. Consider the attributes of your personality that helped you achieve these successes.
Ask other students or former coworkers
One common human flaw is that we often overlook or fail to recognize our strengths even when we feel we are being introspective. To get some ideas of things you may not be considering about yourself, ask the people that know your work ethic and your personality best, like those who have worked closely with you in the past, like a coworker or a former manager.
If you are just entering the workforce, talk to fellow students or even teachers you have formed a relationship with over the years. They will have an outsider’s observational view of your strengths.
Listing Your Skills On A Resume
You likely have multiple areas of strength, however, your inclusion of these areas on your resume should be more strategic and targeted at those strengths which are the most relevant to the job you are applying for.
You can do this easily by reviewing and understanding the job description and seeing what skills are required for the job, then matching them up against your own. Keep your skills section concise and specific. You will be better able to elaborate on any additional skills you feel you possess that you did not mention in the resume when you are called in for an interview.
Formatting The Skills Section On A Resume
When choosing how to format your skills listing on your resume, you have a few options:
- List skills on a functional resume: Those entering the workforce or changing careers often do not have sufficient professional experience, so instead of a ‘skills section’ its best to outline your skills in and abilities in a functional resume style
- Separate skills section: If you have specific and extensive experience in a particular area relevant to your desired employment, and you feel that these set you apart from other candidates, you may want to include them in a skills section that specifically highlights those skills.
- Weave skills into the professional experience section. As you list your past employment experience, tie in skills that you have acquired through it, and list the skills that helped you achieve them by dripping in keywords to highlight your background.