How to highlight your skills for resume success

Highlighting the right skills on your resume will give you an advantage in the job-search process. Employers want to know that the person they are going to hire has relevant skills for the job, as well as transferrable skills. Transferrable skills, such as communication skills, are those that can be used on any job.

Knowing what the top skills are and how to add them to your resume is beneficial when seeking to stand out in a crowded job market.

Types of skills for resume

Some skills apply to all jobs, while others apply to specific jobs because they are technical in nature. The division of skills is categorized as hard and soft skills.

What are hard skills?

These are skills that apply to a particular industry, job, or trade. Hard skills are learned through a training program or through experience on a job. These skills might include proficiency in areas like:

  • Computer engineering
  • Music
  • HVAC

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are often called people skills because they include the skills necessary to communicate effectively with others. You don’t need a certificate or college degree to obtain these skills because they are part of your personal makeup. Although, you may enhance these skills through workshops or special training. Examples of soft skills include:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership
  • Communication

As you can tell, hard skills are easier to obtain since you can take classes to learn them. Soft skills are part of your personality and are not as easy to learn.

Top skills employers look for on resumes

On resumes, employers will look for a mix of hard and soft skills. Some hard skills that employers want will be job- or industry-specific. However, the following top skills are universally desired:

Active listening skills

Active listening involves paying close attention to the person speaking and understanding what they are trying to communicate. Others will notice that you are listening to them because of the verbal and nonverbal feedback you provide. This makes people feel heard and valued.

Computer skills

Almost everyone needs to have some degree of computer proficiency. Even entry-level skills will be better than nothing. It’s a bonus if you know how to use a wide range of software applications and can pick up new programs quickly. Be sure to include if you have “hard skills” in this area, as opposed to just a natural aptitude or working knowledge of computers.

Teamwork skills

Everyone may think they can work well in a team, but when push comes to shove, that’s not always the case. People can be stubborn about their ideas and not willing to negotiate. This creates a difficult atmosphere in which to work, with the team not achieving their goals. If you can work in harmony with your co-workers, you will be a top employee.

Communication skills

Communicating effectively consists of both verbal and written skills. You will likely need to use both types of communication skills in the workplace. Verbal communication is important in getting along with your co-workers, and if you’re in a management position, you must be able to communicate your point without offending anyone. Written communication skills are also vital since many communications take place in the written format.

Customer service skills

Dealing with customers takes a special type of skill set. Sometimes a customer may be difficult to deal with, be demanding, or have complex requests. Whatever the situation may involve, people dealing directly with customers must be patient, problem solvers, quick thinkers, knowledgeable, effective communicators, and pleasant. To excel at customer service, you need a whole list of qualities.

Leadership skills

Leaders have a unique blend of skills. They are firmly decisive when need be, but they are also open to the advice of others. Leaders have a way of motivating their employees and helping them excel to their highest potential.

Problem-solving skills

Situations arise in all settings in life, including work. People who are skillful at resolving problems before they escalate are invaluable in the workplace. Problem-solvers tend to stay calm under pressure, analyze the issue, and find a way to a resolution that makes sense.

Time management skills

Juggling several tasks at once is a common theme among workers. Some people do it effectively, while others struggle to keep everything in order. Those employees who have time-management skills and implement them are more capable of accomplishing their goals.

Add skills to your resume

Once you identify your top skills, it’s time to put them on your resume. You can list your skills in one of the following ways:

Create a separate section for skills

You can devote a section of your resume to list your hard and soft skills. Put a header with an appropriate label and follow it with bullet points to list your skills. This looks best with a two-column resume. You would put your main work experience on the left side of the page and the skills on the right. Also, the columns should not be evenly split, but the left column should be wider since it has more relevant information.

List your skills on a functional resume

If you have gaps in your work history or your experience isn’t related to the job for which you are applying, the functional resume format will work well for you. This format also is ideal for people whose skills are highly relevant to the job.

A functional resume can use this format:

  • Summary of your experience
  • Relevant skills that can be divided into sections explaining each skill in depth
  • Work experience
  • Educational background

No matter what type of resume you use, be sure to add your top skills to other parts of your resume and cover letter. You can highlight your skills when describing your work experience and when writing your resume objective or summary.

Other skills to add to your resume

You can add these other skills to your resume if they apply to you:

  • Organization
  • Empathy
  • Punctuality
  • Reliability
  • Detail-oriented
  • Goal-oriented
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Flexibility
  • Public speaking
  • Decisive
  • Spreadsheets
  • Patience
  • Email management
  • Team building
  • Teaching ability

Keep in mind that whatever skills you put on your resume, make sure you can back them up by being able to deliver. Be transparent about the skills you have to offer without overselling yourself.