In the ever-evolving landscape of job hunting, the resume remains a steadfast middleman on the quest for employment. But as we enter 2024, the question arises: should you still list your "skills" on a resume? In an era of artificial intelligence, remote work, and rapid technological advancement, the answer might not be as straightforward as it once was.
Resumes have come a long way from the simple, one-page documents of the past. They have transformed into dynamic representations of an individual's professional journey, adaptable to the demands of the digital age. As job seekers navigate this new terrain, the role of skills on a resume has shifted, prompting a reconsideration of how we present ourselves to prospective employers.
Why Include a Skills Section?
The next time you edit your resume, consider this: the average time a hiring manager, HR professional, or recruiter spends looking at a resume is about six seconds. You have an infinitesimally short time to grab their attention. With that in mind, your resume needs to be concise, precise, and relevant to the position you are seeking. Every little bit of space is essential.
A well-crafted skills section provides an immediate snapshot of your qualifications, showcasing the specific talents and proficiencies that make you a relevant candidate for the position. This can catch the eye of recruiters and hiring managers, giving you an advantage from the very beginning. Moreover, a skills section allows you to customize your resume for different job applications, emphasizing the skills that align most closely with the job requirements, ensuring your resume resonates with the specific role you're applying for.
Benefits of a Skills Section
In an era of applicant tracking systems (ATS) and digital recruitment platforms, including a skills section helps optimize your resume for these technologies. By incorporating relevant keywords, you increase the chances of your resume making it through the initial screening process. Beyond technical skills, a skills section allows you to exhibit a diverse range of abilities, including soft skills such as communication, teamwork, leadership, and adaptability, which are increasingly valued in today's professional landscape. This diversity of skills can make your application more well-rounded and appealing to employers who seek a combination of technical and interpersonal proficiencies.
A skills section can be an excellent way to quickly show a prospective employer that you meet the criteria they are looking for. Leaving your skills off a resume altogether can be a big mistake, according to CNBC. On paper, the right skills can make you go from another ho-hum person to the most qualified candidate for the job posting.
How to Include Skills on Your Resume
In many ways, your skills can be merged into the rest of your resume and not necessarily outlined in a specific section. Soft skills, for example, can be highlighted throughout when talking about experience and things you have done.
The old adage “show, don’t tell” comes into play here. Instead of just putting these skills in a list format, you can explain how you used leadership qualities. For instance: Led a team of 15 people through multiple projects in a timely fashion to exceed strict deadlines and raise profit margins by 5%.
This example shows leadership, time management, task prioritization, and multitasking all in one sentence without simply listing these skills. Sometimes, a list format of soft skills can feel pompous or contrived. But this way, the skills are included to highlight your accomplishments and showcase the ways you used them to achieve distinct goals.
Hard skills, on the other hand, generally need to be included in a specific skills section that can list out what your competencies are. These include technical skills and things that are required for the specific job. Here, you should be as specific as possible. If the job asks for a particular software competency, list it by name if it is a skill you possess.
Tips for Writing Your Skills Section
When writing your skills section, be as specific as possible. Stay away from exaggerations and false claims. Don't inflate your abilities. In this day and age, competencies can easily be checked. Falsehoods are a sure way to have your resume passed over. Instead, talk about what you can do in a concise and precise way. Your skills should be laid out in a clear and verifiable manner.
When writing a skills section, consider the following:
- Organize Your Skills: Start by categorizing your skills. Divide them into two primary categories: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills encompass technical abilities such as programming languages, project management, or data analysis. Soft skills include qualities like communication, leadership, problem-solving, and adaptability.
- Relevance is Key: Tailor your skills section for each job application. Review the job description and prioritize the skills most relevant to the position. This not only highlights your qualifications but also shows your genuine interest in the role.
- Use Bullet Points: Present your skills in a clear and concise manner using bullet points. This format enhances readability and allows recruiters to quickly scan and identify your key strengths.
- Include Quantifiable Achievements: Whenever possible, accompany your skills with specific achievements or experiences that illustrate how you've applied them in real-world situations. For instance, if you list "Project Management," you might add a bullet point like, "Successfully led a team of 10 to complete a critical project ahead of schedule."
- Strategic Keyword Usage: Be mindful of the keywords relevant to the job and industry. Incorporate these keywords into your skills section to improve your resume's chances of passing through ATS scans.
- Customize for Different Roles: Maintain multiple versions of your resume, each tailored for different types of positions. This allows you to emphasize the most relevant skills for each job application.
- Maintain Conciseness: While it's important to include key skills, avoid overwhelming your resume with an exhaustive list. Select the most critical skills to maintain a focused and concise presentation.
Sample Skills Section
Your resume can be either in a chronological format or a functional resume format, which focuses more on skills and abilities. The skills sections will differ based on the chosen formatting. If you are using a chronological resume format, your skills section will most likely be in list form. Again, be precise and list the necessary skills for the position.
A chronological resume may include a skills section with a list format like the one below:
- Sales and business development
- Project management
- Proficiency in QuickBooks
- Fluent in Spanish
Include your skills section near your career experience if the job requires a high level of technical abilities. You can show your competency and ability to do the work.
For a functional resume, your skills section may look more like this example below:
- Experience with grant proposals and business marketing, including pitches that increased client base by 4%
- Management of social media accounts with over 50,000 followers and experience with Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, LinkedIn, and BlogSpot
- Mastery of employee relations, new hire onboarding, QuickBooks, and conflict resolution with a customer satisfaction rating of over 95%
- Ability to translate documents and interpret conversations fluently in Spanish
Highlight your soft skills throughout your resume. Reader's Digest reports a vast majority of hiring managers say soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills. Communication abilities, positive attitude, and problem-solving skills are essential. Be sure to include them in a concrete and specific way.
Ultimately, your skills should be apparent and easy to find on your resume. This section can motivate a hiring manager to move your resume along to the right professional, and ultimately select you for an interview.