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What skills should I put on a resume?
The skills section of your resume should be an outline of your relevant abilities and demonstrate your fitness for the role you are applying for. There are two main types of skill types: hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills are skills that are quantifiable. Hard skills examples are programming, SEO, operating machinery, languages, etc.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are more subjective and harder to measure. Examples of soft skills are communication skills, negotiation skills, conflict resolution, conceptual skills, etc.
While it may seem that your employer would only care about seeing quantifiable (hard) skills on your resume, this is not exactly the case. In fact, according to the research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center, 85% of success in the workplace actually comes from well-developed soft skills — with only 15% being attributed to technical skills and knowledge.
When deciding what skills to emphasize on your resume, it’s always a good idea to see what skills the employer is looking for. To do this, go over the job description again and check what skills are required in a candidate. This way, you will be able to tailor your resume to the position you are applying for and make sure the skills you include are relevant to the job.
Learn more here: Hard Skills vs Soft Skills: What’s the Difference?
Where should I put skills on a resume?
Where you place your skill section on a resume depends on several factors. The main consideration here will be the resume format you are using. In a skills-based resume, your skills will be the focus of your resume and till next listed first, before your work experience. In a reverse-chronological resume, on the other hand, your work experience will take center stage and your professional skills will come later.
Within the skills section itself, you can create categories for different skills, especially if you have many. This can help you separate skills into groups according to the different aspects of the job where they might be useful. You can also categorize skills into soft skills and hard skills to make it easier for the hiring manager to scan through your resume.
What are skill levels for a resume?
Skill levels are used to evaluate the degree of proficiency in specific skills. Skill levels typically apply to hard skills only. Hard skills for a resume may include programming skills, language skills, etc. As we’ve mentioned above, soft skills are quite subjective and may be hard to evaluate. To prove to your employer that you are good at communicating or negotiating, you will need to illustrate this via specific work situations that you have experienced.
While listing your skills on a resume is very helpful, simply stating what skills you have gives little insight into how good you are at it. Providing a skill level next to the corresponding skill is optional — but definitely helpful to the hiring manager.
How should I list skill levels?
There are many ways to list skills levels on a resume. You may use numbers or bar graphs to show the level of a certain skill. But this may be quite vague.
Here’s an example. Say you use a ten-point scale to illustrate your language proficiency. And you give yourself a score of seven for your proficiency in Spanish. You may think that this will show your employer that you are proficient in the language. However, your employer might think that a score of seven is too low compared to a score of eight or nine. So you may end up downplaying your knowledge of the language without even knowing it.
Because of this, it’s a better idea to use a universally accepted metric to demonstrate the levels of skills you possess.
One of the best ways to describe the levels of skills you have is by using words. For instance:
- Beginner. If you are a beginner at something, you can perform basic tasks and have an understanding of what the skill involves. However, you can’t handle more complicated tasks or troubleshoot any issues. In most cases, if you only have a beginner level of a skill, it may be best to leave it off your resume.
- Intermediate. Starting from this level, you can put skills on your resume. An intermediate skill level shows that you can already handle a wider range of tasks and troubleshoot simple issues. However, when it comes to more complicated tasks, you will still need to rely on support materials and other resources.
- Proficient. If you are proficient in a skill, you can take on most tasks related to this skill completely independently. You have advanced knowledge of the skill and can troubleshoot most issues.
- Expert. If you label your skill level as expert, it will tell your employer that you have a deep knowledge of the subject and can deal with most related issues that come up. It also means that you can consult others on the subject. If you tell your potential employer that you are an expert in something, they will assume that you can take on anything related to the skill.
How should I list skills?
Here are some best practices for listing skills and levels of skills on a resume.
First, choose the skills that you want to include (10 to 15).
When selecting the skills to include in your resume, do your best to make it a job-specific and targeted list. Use the same key words when describing your skills as the ones mentioned in the job description.
Next, think about how to organize these skills.
If there are a lot of skills that you want to include, consider organizing them into categories or groups. This will make things easier for the person reading your resume.
Make sure to offer evidence to back up your skill claims throughout the resume. When it comes to hard skills, you can prove them by mentioning your certification and education in the field. For soft skills, on the other hand, you may need to include specific examples from your work experience. For instance, you can mention deals you were able to achieve for your company to showcase your negotiation skills.
The final step of listing your skills on a resume will be adding levels of skills. As we’ve mentioned above, you should use a clear and universally recognized metric for this. It’s essential that you demonstrate your skill proficiency in a way that is clear to others and not open to different interpretations.
Examples of listing levels of skills on a resume
Here are a few examples of how you can list skills on a resume:
C++ programming (expert)
UX design (proficient)
Agile project management (intermediate)
Negotiation and mediation
Teamwork and team building
Majored in Spanish at San Diego University
Managing accounts payable and receivable functions (expert)
Managing vendor accounts (expert)
Handling payroll (proficient)
Forecasting budgets (proficient)
Financial reporting GAAP (proficient)
Attention to detail
Learn how to master essential soft skills in How to Develop Effective Verbal Communication Skills.
How to display levels of skills on your resume: conclusion
Now let’s sum up what we’ve learnt.
- There are many ways to list skills on a resume. If you have a lot of skills to include, it’s best to organize them into groups.
- Keep it brief. According to a recent study by The Ladders, employers can spend only 7.4 seconds scanning a resume. So, put your most eye-catching skills first and avoid generalities.
- There are two primary types of skills: soft skills and hard skills. Hard skills are easily measurable and proven while soft skills are more subjective.
- When listing your skills, try to use the same keywords as the ones used in the job description.
- When mentioning the level of your skills, use a universally recognized evaluation system. For instance, you can label your skills as expert, proficient, intermediate or beginner.
- It’s best to only include the skills in your resume starting from the intermediate level.
Learn more about what skills to put on a resume.