A professionally written resume is a brief summary of qualifications used by a job candidate when applying for an open position. One of the most important sections on the resume is the skills section which effectively highlights the candidate’s unique skillset as it applies to the opening.
There are different types of skills like soft skills that are more abstract in nature like sales techniques and customer service skills. Or, hard skills that are easy to quantify and measure. A skill that can be measured by a test or qualified with a degree or certificate.
All of the skills that are developed through school and on-the-job training are considered hard skills. They are easy to teach and easy to measure proficiency. Achieving proficiency in a foreign language, operating a machine, or typing a certain number of words per minute are all types of hard skills that can be identified and measured.
Sometimes also called interpersonal skills, soft skills are much more difficult to quantify. How well a candidate interacts with others is important to their success in most careers and absolutely vital for their success on teams.
The problem is that soft skills are extremely difficult to measure proficiency in. Communication skills can be demonstrated over a longer-term evaluation period, but not necessarily inside one 60 minute interview. The same goes for leadership skills, teamwork, problem-solving, and the like.
Despite the difficulty of quantifying competencies in soft skills, it is just as important to list those skills on a resume as it is to list hard skills. Be prepared to qualify your competency in all of the soft skills that you list by using anecdotal evidence to demonstrate a time when that skill was utilized successfully.
Top Skills Employers Look for on a Resume
While certain hard skills are typically dictated by the position, there are some soft skills that employers across the board are increasingly interested in. Certain skills that make employers more trainable or a better fit for a particular culture are among the top of the list.
Analytical Skills: The ability to solve problems or make logical decisions are an important skill in any industry.
Communication Skills: The ability to communicate clearly and concisely is important to companies for all kinds of reasons from strong leadership to productive teamwork.
Interpersonal Skills: The ability to connect with others, show empathy, and the discipline to work productively are all important to employers. Ultimately most employers want the most productive employees they can hire and the best way to get that is to build strong teams that work well together.
Leadership Skills: Companies don’t want to hire bosses. They want to hire strong leaders that have insight and easily gain the respect of their peers and subordinates.
In a technology-focused workforce, the best candidates have a balanced blend of hard and soft skills. They have the knowledge and experience to perform the work. And, they have the soft skills to work well with others and build strong teams that achieve maximum productivity for the company.
How to Identify the Skills On Your Resume
Your resume may or may not have enough skills to meet employer’s expectations. It’s also difficult at times to identify what exactly is considered a verifiable skill that employers will approve of. If this is the case, using a resume checker can really illuminate where your resume stands in terms of the skills listed.
Generally a resume checker will indicate exactly what skills it’s detected on your resume, and categorize them as a hard or soft skill. Some of these resume scanners will even look at the ratio between these hard skills to figure out whether there’s a good balance of hard to soft skills on your resume.
How to Highlight Your Skills
Since both hard and soft skills are important, candidates should find ways to highlight a mix of both skill types on their application materials. Hard skills can be listed chronologically on a resume. By contrast, soft skills need to be listed as accomplishments to show an impact. Simply making a list of skills that you are competent in will not be enough.
Include relevant skills in your cover letter. As a first impression to a potential employer, craft a winning cover letter that focuses on sharing two or three key skills backed up with anecdotes about when or how those skills were used successfully.
Prepare to discuss examples of soft skills at length during interviews. The majority of interview questions are designed to assess a candidate’s soft skills. Any question that starts with a phrase like ‘tell me about a time…’ or ‘give me an example…’ is an attempt to fish for an assessment of a soft skill.
Candidates can do much better in an interview if they have an understanding of the types of questions that will be asked and what insight the interviewer is trying to gain. Preparing a few anecdotal stories to highlight the top 3 or 4 skills that match the position is the most important step in preparing for an interview.
Match the skills that you list on a resume to the position that you are applying for. Be careful not to overlook obvious technology skills like proficiency with MS Office applications or typing speed. Keeping a master document of skills and competencies, along with examples of using these skills can be useful for plugging them into tailored resumes while applying for multiple positions.