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Impressive skills to include on your resume

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated April 22, 2019
|6 min read

Recruiters review hundreds of applications per job listing, so to make it to the interview phase, you have to have a resume that shines. To write a great resume that’ll help land you at the top of the stack, you first need to understand the difference between hard skills and soft skills. Next, think about the most in-demand skills within each category and list your most desirable skills first. (Remember: There’s no guarantee the recruiter will read through your resume.) Finally, eliminate the fluff. 

 Here are the skills you need and how to make them sing on your resume.

Hard skills vs. soft skills

Hard skills are those you can learn and develop through education, training, on-the-job experience, and other hands-on learning. Soft skills are much harder to quantify — they refer to an individual’s ability to work both on their own and with others. While you can hone soft skills through practice, they’re not skills you can evaluate through objective testing.

Hard skills help you excel in a specific task, but soft skills help you thrive through team collaboration. Both are important to employers, so let’s review which ones in each category are most beneficial on a resume. 

Hard skills to show off on your resume

Regardless of your role, these hard skills can make you stand out from the competition.

1. Data collection and analysis

More technology in the workplace means there’s more data than ever to collect, track, and analyze. That’s why data analysis is such a huge growth area, says Matt Sigelman, the president of Burning Glass Technologies: “Mainstream American companies have come to realize that to become more effective in the marketplace, they need to analyze data,” explains Sigelman. “And we’re seeing those skills showing up at a premium in various industries, including marketing, logistics jobs, and operations management jobs.”

How to Highlight: Reflect on the opportunities you’ve had to collect and analyze data in your current job and include them on your resume. If you can’t think of any, consider taking a free online course in data analytics from a website like edX or Coursera, then apply what you learn on the job.

2. Social media management

Social media makes a timely addition to any resume, said career coach Bethany Wallace: “Regardless of career field and job role, possessing social media management skills is a plus for any candidate,” Wallace said. “Many companies still resist hiring a social media manager, and the ability to fill that gap might make the difference in a candidate's standing.”

How to Highlight: If you completed coursework or an internship that involved social media, include it on your resume. Add specifics like engagement results for campaigns you executed. Don’t list personal social media on your resume unless you post professional content on it or are monetizing your accounts.

3. Content management systems

You don’t have to be a coder to build a website. Easy-to-learn platforms like WordPress, HubSpot, and Squarespace can help you learn the basics of creating and maintaining a blog or website. There are many benefits to CMS (content management system), including easy collaboration, content scheduling, predesigned templates, and more, according to HubSpot, that will help you bring value to your team. 

How to Highlight: Learn how to use these platforms through one of the many available online classes or tutorials, then list it under the skills section of your resume. If you want to go the extra mile, build a personal website or online portfolio, and include a link to it so recruiters and hiring managers can see your skills for themselves.

Play up your “people skills”

Soft skills, or “people skills” foster collaboration and teamwork. According to SHRM, they are top traits that employers are in search of, as they make employees more resilient, communicative, and creative.

While you shouldn’t expect to be hired for a job based on soft skills alone, your resume should reflect how you've successfully leveraged them to achieve results.

1. Communication

Communication skills consistently rank among the most important qualities in candidates. Eight in 10 executives and 9 in 10 hiring managers said recent college graduates need good speaking skills when they come looking for jobs, according to a survey by the American Association of Colleges and Universities.

How to Highlight: Edit your resume for grammar, spelling, and clarity. Try reading your resume out loud to make sure all of your thoughts make sense. Prove your communication skills by being concise, yet warm, when interacting with the recruiter.

2. Problem-solving

Employees who find creative solutions to complex problems create tremendous value for employers, and make themselves indispensable. Be sure to address ways that you’ve increased productivity or profits or reduced waste or errors in the past.

How to Highlight: Most resume bullet points should focus on the solution to a problem, such as “Increased email open rates 10 percent.” Whenever possible, articulate the problem as well as the solution so recruiters can see exactly how you’ve applied your problem-solving skills.

3. Positive attitude

A good attitude can help in nearly every situation you encounter in the workplace. “Having a positive attitude is absolutely crucial if candidates want to stand out from their peers," Wallace said.

How to Highlight: It’s easier to display a positive attitude in an interview than on a resume, but you can start by framing your on-the-job challenges positively. Using verbs like “overcame,” “surmounted,” “succeeded” and “won” can contribute to an overall positive, energetic impression. Soft skills can also come up in performance reviews when demonstrating professional growth.

Skills to leave off your resume

The skills you leave off of your resume are almost as important as those you add to it. When deciding whether something belongs on your resume, ask yourself, “Would this skill get me hired if it was the only skill I had to offer?” Employers assume that applicants have basic computer skills and simple math skills, so touting basic knowledge of Microsoft Word or algebra won’t make you stand out. 

As a general rule, if you’ve passed a test or taken a specialized course to prove proficiency in an area, it’s okay to include it. If you’ve merely opened an app or program a few times, don’t put it on your resume.

Avoid over-selling your competencies. For example, a year of high school Spanish does not mean that you’re fluent — or even conversational — in the language. Taking a single computer science credit in college does not make you a programmer. Before adding an outdated or underdeveloped skill to your resume, consider whether you are capable of using the skill in a business setting. When you’re unsure, leave it out.

Key takeaways

Think of hard skills on a resume as testable capabilities, and soft skills as the verbs you use to introduce those metrics. If you want to tout your leadership skills (soft) in app development (hard), you might say: “Managed a team of five developers to code and launch a new mobile app in less than 6 months.” The term “managed” signals soft, people skills, and mobile app development reflects hard skills.

Hard skills should be explicitly listed, while soft skills are either suggested or illustrated in your resume and cover letter. It’s not a matter of choosing one over the other: Highlighting both types of skills shows recruiters that you’re a resourceful candidate who has the potential to make an impact within the company.

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