101+ Essential Skills to Put on a Resume [In 2021]
Listing skills on your resume is fairly easy.
Are you mentioning the right skills for the job, or are you boring the HR manager with irrelevant information?
Here’s a hint: the hiring manager for the Software Development team couldn’t care less about your expertise in Marketing.
What they’re dying to know, though, is your skill level in Python.
In this guide, we’re going to walk you through the process of putting skills on your resume. We’ll explain how to identify the right skills, and how, exactly, to list them.
Among others, you will learn:
- How and why should you list your skills on a resume?
- What are hard skills, soft skills, and what is the difference?
- How can you list skills on your resume to help you stand out?
- What are the top 120+ skills to put on a resume? For 10+ fields!
How (and Why) to List Skills on a Resume
If written correctly, the skills section looks something like this:
So you’re probably wondering, “how hard can this be, right? All I have to do is list all my skills and call it a day!”
Well, not exactly. The process of putting skills on your resume is a bit more nuanced than that, and we’re going to explain why.
Most companies nowadays are using applicant tracking systems to help them go through hundreds & thousands of resumes they receive per day.
These systems scan your resume for keywords relevant to the job you’re looking for. Say, the role requires an Expert level in Java. If you haven’t mentioned Java as a skill, your resume can automatically get discarded.
In fact, 70%+ of resumes are rejected at this stage, never even reaching the human eye.
Even if the company doesn’t use an ATS, there’s a good chance that the HR manager is going to skim through your resume looking for the right skill set.
So, whether you’re doing this for the ATS or the HR, it’s important to mention the right skills.
We’re going to explain how to do this soon. But first, let’s cover some basics about skills on your resume.
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Hard Skills vs Soft Skills - What’s the Difference?
Hard skills refer to the technical knowledge or training you have gotten through experience. They are specific and essential to each job and are used for completing your tasks.
Hard Skills Include (& Examples):
- Machinery skills - operating a road roller, operating a PoS, pallet-stacker, forklift, etc.
- Software skills - Adobe Creative Suite, Ableton Live Suite
- Tools - SEM Marketing, Stethoscope, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, ERP systems, CRMs
- Languages - French, Spanish
- Coding Languages - Python, C++, C#, Java, Scala, R
- Techniques - Frequency analysis, Crystallization
- Accounting & bookkeeping
- And just about any task-specific skill
Soft skills, on the other hand, are attributes and habits that describe how you work individually or with others. They are not specific to a job, but indirectly help you adapt to the work environment and company culture.
Some of the most in-demand soft skills are:
- Effective communication
- People skills
The main differences between hard skills and soft skills are:
(1) How you obtain them
- Hard skills are obtained through work experience, education, training, and certification.
- Soft skills, on the other hand, can be gained through life experience, both on and off work.
(2) How you use them - you apply hard skills directly into the job; whereas soft skills come into play indirectly.
How to List Skills on a Resume (And Stand Out)
Now that you know about different types of skills, let’s talk about how to list them on your resume. There are several best practices you need to follow to stand out:
Tailor Your Skills to the Job
Relevance is key. Only list skills that are appropriate for the job you are applying for. You can figure out which ones are relevant by scanning a job listing.
Job ads usually list a set of requirements or skills they expect a good candidate to have. Make sure you don’t leave any of those out on your resume.
For example, imagine you are applying for a line cook position in a restaurant:
Here’s the job description. We have underlined your main responsibilities:
“Here at “ABCD” we are committed to creating a one-of-a-kind experience for our guests. Our French restaurant is looking for a professional line cook for the summer season to work directly under the supervision of our chef. Responsibilities include prepping and cleaning food, creating and cooking meals and cleaning up the working area. Impeccable attention to detail in food cooking and presentation is needed.”
So from this, you understand that ABCD is looking for someone that:
- Is committed to excellence and is highly professional
- Works well under supervision, and with others
- Can prep, clean, and cook food
- Has great attention to detail in cooking and presentation
So, what you should mention in your skill section are:
Skills: food prepping, cooking skills, food presentation, attention to detail, heavy lifting, team-work.
As a given, you wouldn’t mention anything that isn’t directly related to the job. No one cares about your Photoshop skills - you’re going to be cooking food, not making your last meal look good for Instagram.
Match Each Skill with Your Proficiency Level
For each skill that you list on your resume, scale it up using the competencies proficiency scale:
- Beginner - You are just starting to learn or have not practiced the skill through experience (usually fresh graduates that only understand concepts through theories or classroom experience)
- Intermediate - You have applied the skill in practice, and require assistance with it on rare or special occasions. You still have room to grow.
- Advanced - You know your stuff! You don’t need help with the skill anymore. You can also teach beginners how to use it.
- Expert - You are a recognized authority on this skill, the go-to person if anyone has any questions. You have consistently proved to be excellent in this skill. You could even write a whole book about it!
Back up Your Skills with Other Resume Sections
If you mention Food Prepping - Advanced as one of your skills, you should have food prepping roles or other organizations described throughout your work experience to back that up. Put your money where your mouth is.
You can check out our guide on how to write a resume to have a clearer idea of how to connect your resume sections with one another.
Put Transferable Skills to Use when Switching Careers
Transferable skills are not directly related to the job you are applying to but are still useful. For example, if you’re applying for a job outside your established area in marketing big data analysis, you can still mention some of those old skills in financial data analysis. It’ll show you have a starting basis and experience with the type of work.
For example, your big data analysis skills include (among others): machine learning, data visualization, querying and analysis, and statistics. You can still mention these in your financial data analyst resume, but omitting the marketing background in which they were used.
If you’re fresh off college, you can mention writing skills, documentation, and research as already established skills, since you’ve already done plenty of that in university. These transferable skills can be of use when you are applying for an office clerk or entry-level job.
Mention 2-3 Universal Skills
These are mainly soft skills that are needed in almost every job out there. They can be soft skills, such as problem-solving abilities, effective communication, or time management, or hard skills, like speed typing, using Powerpoint or Excel.
Feel free to include any universal skills even if they’re not specifically required or mentioned in the job description. However, you shouldn’t overflow your resume with these, because it might look generic. Mention them if you have the space and have run out of more advanced job-specific skills.
150+ Must-Have Skills (for Every Field)
Not sure which skills to mention in your resume? We’ve got you covered.
We compiled a list of some of the most relevant skills on the market in 2020, covering all sorts of different fields! Read on to learn what they are!
If you happen to possess some of these skills, make sure to mention them in your resume. If not, it’s never too late to learn something new.
In some entry-level jobs, soft skills can be more important than hard skills. After all, organizations these days tend to hire more for personality & character rather than skill.
Keep in mind, though, that if you’re more experienced, it’s better to stick to more hard skills.
Most in-demand soft skills for any industry or field:
- Time management
- Effective communication
- Emotional intelligence
- Conflict management
- Teamwork skills
- Stress management
- Productivity & organization
- Critical thinking
- Attention to detail
With new technology developing faster than ever, it becomes essential to move beyond the basics of traditional marketing. Here are some of the most relevant marketing skills these days, including both cutting-edge online tools, as well as classic marketing skills:
Examples of Marketing Skills
- Data analysis
- Web analytics
- HTML & CSS
- Email marketing
- Web scraping
- CRO and A/B Testing
- Data visualization & pattern-finding through critical thinking
- Search Engine and Keyword Optimization
- Project/campaign management
- Social media and mobile marketing
- Paid social media advertisements
- B2B Marketing
- The 4 P-s of Marketing
- Consumer Behavior Drivers
- Brand management
- CMS Tools
As a manager, you need to have the right mix of both soft and hard skills.
Below are the management skills needed to not only get the job but to also enhance employee and company productivity in the long run.
Examples of Management Skills
- Six Sigma techniques
- The McKinsey 7s Framework
- Porter’s Five Forces
- Emotional Intelligence
- Dealing with work-related stress
- Task delegation
- Technological savviness
- People management
- Business Development
- Strategic Management
- Proposal writing
The art of selling has stayed the same despite technological advancements. Humans still strive for contact with other humans. Despite channels of communication becoming digital, communication and empathetic skills take priority.
A comprehensive must-have skill list for salespeople includes:
Examples of Sales Skills
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Public speaking
- Lead generation
- Buyer-Responsive selling
- Buyer engagement
- Product knowledge
- Effective communication and sociability
- Social media/digital communication
- Time management
Just because you can apply filters on your Instagram pictures doesn’t mean that you’re a designer.
Today, knowing the basics of design does not suffice anymore. To get hired as a designer, you must know how to create killer branded content for the web & social media channels.
Some of the most important design skills for your resume are:
Examples of Design Skills
- Adobe Creative Suite: Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop
- HTML & CSS
- Photo editing
- Typography: spacing, line height, layout, choosing fonts
- Targeting and marketing through visual communications
- Logo creation
- Digital printing
- Integration of visual communication in social media platforms
- Attention to detail & aesthetics
- Interactive media design
- Color sense & theory
- Ad design
- Active listening
Basic Technical Skills
These are skills that almost everyone working in an office should know. They should be put on your resume if you are applying as a secretary, office clerk, or any other type of office employee.
The basic technical office skills include:
Examples of Basic Technical Skills
- Microsoft Office Pack: Word, Excel, Access, Publisher, Outlook, Powerpoint
- Filing and paper management
- Data entry
- Bookkeeping through Excel or TurboTax
- Research and data analysis
- Basic knowledge of user interface communication
- Technical writing
- Cloud networking and file sharing
Accounting & Finance Skills
Goodbye, filing by hand. Hello, countless platforms and apps. Accountants and financial specialists should familiarize themselves with these skills in order to have a successful career:
Examples of Accounting & Finance Skills
- Microsoft Excel (Advanced)
- Enterprise Resource Planning
- Big Data Analysis & SQL
- Know Your Customers (KYC)
- Cognos Analytics (IBM)
- Visual Basic
- Accounting Software
- Revenue recognition
- Anti Money Laundering
- Clear communication
- General business knowledge
- Numerical competence
- Attention to detail
How many times in undergrad or grad school have you witnessed a 50-year-old honorary doctor with three PhDs struggle to play a YouTube video? Methods of teaching have evolved, and so have the required skills to be part of the education industry.
The essential educational skills are:
Examples of Education Skills
- Updated curriculum knowledge
- Research & Data analysis
- Educational platforms (software like Elearn)
- Stress management
- Technological & digital literacy
- Critical thinking
Web Development Skills
It seems like there’s new technology popping up every second now, and web developers are starting to get worried. However, if you are proficient in HTML, CSS, and Java, you pretty much have a leg up on the competition. All other skills on this list derive from or build upon the three basic programming languages. You can learn or improve your web development skills here.
Examples of Web Development Skills
- CSS preprocessors
- Graphic User Interfaces (GUI)
- Git/Version control (Github, gitlab)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Application Programming Interface (API)
- Adobe Photoshop, InDesign
- Content Management Systems (CMS)
- Responsive design principles
BAs are very in demand right now by businesses, and for a good reason! They perform an almost magical task of analyzing the past and present to give future predictions. To perform their magic, they need some analytical spells:
Examples Business Analytics
- SQL (a must) and Hive (optional)
- Programming language (R, Python, Scala, Matlab)
- STATA, SPSS, SAS
- Data Mapping
- Entity Relationship Diagrams
- Big Data tools
- Microsoft Visio
- Agile Business Analysis
- Machine learning
- System Context Diagrams
- Business Process Modeling
- Technical and non-technical communication
Nursing & Healthcare Skills
More than any other profession, healthcare professionals need to stay constantly updated with new technologies, medicine, and techniques. The skills nursing requires are countless and specific, but the most basic ones boil down to:
Examples of Nursing and Healthcare Skills
- Patient care and assistance
- Paperwork/record-keeping abilities
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- Attention to detail
- Physical endurance
- Acute care
- Infection control
- Surgery preparation
BONUS INFOGRAPHIC: Skills to Put on a Resume
Let’s sum up everything we’ve learned about putting skills in your resume:
- You must have a section in your resume devoted entirely to your skills. This helps you pass through applicant tracking systems & get noticed by the HR manager.
- The differences between hard skills and soft skills are in the way they are applied (directly vs. indirectly) and the way they are obtained (through education and practice vs. personality traits and experience)
- On your resume, list only skills that are relevant to the job, scan the job listing for must-have skills and list those (if you have them), pair each skill with a responding proficiency level, back up your skills with other resume sections, mention transferable and universal skills.
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