Resume Skills: How to Put Skills on a Resume the Right Way in 2021

The skills you put on a resume can make or break your chances. Listing skills on a resume is important, but only if done right! Here's how to include skills on a resume correctly.

Did you know that every skilled job advert attracts around 250 applicants? So it’s not surprising that you haven’t landed your dream job yet. 

Of those 250 applicants, only 4-6 get invited for an interview. This might seem daunting, but you can use this to your advantage. Think about it, a hiring manager is choosing their top 2.4% of applicants based only on a resume.

A hiring manager chooses applicants based on whether they have the right skills for the role. So perfecting your resume skills section is a sure-fire way to ensure you get an interview and secure your dream job. 

Read on to learn exactly how to add winning resume skills to get you guaranteed interviews. 


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Hard Skills vs Soft Skills 

There are two main types of skills you need to add to your resume; hard skills and soft skills. Your resume skills list needs to illustrate the hard and soft skills that are relevant for the role advertised. 

Hard skills are the technical skills and knowledge that you have gained through education or on-the-job learning. These technical skills are easy to measure and easy to advertise; they’re often verified through licenses or certifications. 

Soft skills on a resume are more open to interpretation, they’re your ‘people skills’ and workplace personality. People skills develop with age and experience. Soft skills are essential for good workplace relationships and productivity. These can include leadership skills, communication skills, and problem solving skills on a resume.

Traditionally, there’s been a focus on hard skills. However, as education (and therefore the availability to learn hard skills) has become more accessible, the importance of soft skills has increased. Now, 77% of hiring managers say that soft skills are as important as hard skills. 

To show that you’re a well-rounded candidate, job seekers need to incorporate both soft and hard skills in your resume skills section list. 

Related Read: Resume Sections: 10+ Things to Include on a Resume to Land Interviews

Putting Skills on a Resume

Formatting your resume skills section is as important as the skills you put on it. You want employers to be able to pick skills off it with little effort. Your job is to make it obvious to the employer that you can do everything they need from a candidate. 

You can either add skills to your ‘experience’ section or include a stand-alone skills section list. Either way, you need to list the skill and then quantify it. 

How do you quantify a skill? You need to state the skill, how you use it, and explain the effect it had. Give numbers to quantify and show examples of your results. Using this format will keep your writing concise. 

Here’s a resume skills example that shows how to quantify: 

‘Optimized the monthly customer newsletter with SEO content that improved organic web traffic by 40% in 30 days.’ 

This shows that you can do SEO, are capable of showing initiative, and that you help to drive change. It also demonstrates to the potential employer the benefits you can be to their company. 

Related Read: How to List Your Achievements on Your Resume (the Right Way) in 2021

Top 10 Hard Skills to Put on a Resume

Your first step before adding hard skills to a resume is to check which skills the employer actually wants. If the job advert lists any niche hard skills, you must include them!

Adding hard skills to your resume is easy, you either have them or you don’t. List the skill, when you’ve had experience doing it, and any licenses or certificates you’ve gained. For the list of skills on your resume, though, make sure they are relevant to the job you’re applying for, meaning those you deem important from the job description.

Here we’ve outlined ten hard skills that are in demand and will get you noticed!

1. Digital and Software 

Whether you’re applying to be an admin assistant or HR manager, you’ll be spending a lot of time online. Technical skills are sought after for many roles.

If you’re good with a computer, there’s a high chance you have something to offer. Specific skills can include social media, digital marketing, Microsoft Office, and industry-specific software. There’s Adobe Photoshop for graphic designers and a multitude of programming languages for software developers.

If you’re lacking in digital skills, why not complete an online short-course to upskill yourself at home? 

2. Accounting Skills for a Resume

If you’re applying for a role in a small-midsize business, you may have to look after some basic accounting work. If you have accounting experience, definitely include it.

If accounting isn’t relevant to the role you’re applying for, list the software you’re proficient in, instead of providing details. If the role is finance-focused, it might be best to give more detail about previous experiences with different software.

Intuit QuickBooks, Sage 50 Accounting, Intrax, Microsoft Dynamics, and SAP are some of the most common programs used by businesses for accounting.

Related Read: Use the STAR Method to Ace Interviews & Behavioral Interview Questions

3. Second / Foreign Languages

If you’re bilingual it’s a great bonus for many jobs. In customer service, you can serve more customers; in large companies, you can travel and converse with more clients; in translation roles, you can translate. Foreign languages make great skills for your resume, and they might just be what sets you apart from other candidates.

Even if your role doesn’t require an extra language, this is a unique skill that will get you noticed so you should include additional languages. You can include rudimentary language skills too; if necessary get practicing on a language learning app. 

4. Data Management and Data Analysis 

From personal assistant roles all the way to CEO roles – you’ll be dealing with data. Even if it’s only navigating an excel spreadsheet, skills with data put on a resume will go a long way.

If you have a college degree, think about modules that required you to turn data into a report. How did you manage the data? How did you draw conclusions from the data? Do you have data entry experience with word processing software? What about data mining or statistical analysis? Or, for SEO SEM specialists, perhaps search engine optimization skills. These all make powerful bullet points to include in your resume list of skills.

If you need to upskill, there are plenty of data software programs you can download and practice at home. Even a basic knowledge of these programs shows the ability to learn new ways of looking at data. 

Related Read: How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation: 10+ Tips, Advice & Examples

5. Productivity Software 

While time management skills and productivity are soft skills, mastering the related software is a hard skill. Productivity software is an essential part of project management, and definitely one of the most prized skills employers are looking for on a resume or cover letter.

This is a great skill for those lacking in work experience and other technical skills because you can learn it at home. Look into Google Apps, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, Evernote, Trello, and Slack, but include on your resume only if relevant to the position.

Google Apps are ideal for storing larger pieces of work and projects but it also provides a place to store contacts, notes, calendars, finance tracking, conference calling, and more.

Technical skills with software like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype are great for streamlining the conference call process (and subtly show communication skills on a resume, as well!). Evernote stores comprehensive notes that can be shared with team members. Trello is a task-based app you can use to track project status individually and with teams.

Add productivity software to your resume skills section as a hard skill and you’ll also imply that you have the corresponding soft skills: time management, leadership, and management, organization, self-starting, and motivating.

Skills with productivity software are under-stated considering how much time we spend organizing, monitoring, and tracking project status. Start using it at home and before long you’ll be an expert in the workplace. 

6. Project Management Skills on Your Resume

You can demonstrate project management on an individual level or large-scale level depending on your experience level. All you need to have done is seen the project through from conception, to launch, to evaluation.

Make it clear on your resume what type of project management you’re familiar with and back it up with a statistic or two in bullet points about the successes of the project. If you can quantify your skills with a project management certification, it’s an added bonus to put on a resume.

Related Read: 13 Best Entry-Level Jobs With No Experience for Students & Young Pros

7. Human Resources

Medium to large size companies rely on human resources (HR) for many tasks. Hiring new recruits, onboarding, and looking after existing employees is all managed by HR.

Human resources as a hard skill usually requires a college degree or on-the-job training. But if you have HR experience, it’s a great thing to add to your resume skills section because the nature of the role implies that you also have many soft skills.

Even if the role isn’t related to HR, to work in HR you must be adaptable, organized, team-oriented, and have excellent communication skills. Employers will make this link if you put HR experience on your resume. 

8. Typing Skills

It’s not only typists and secretaries that need to be able to type. Most people are using computers daily in the workplace. Fast and accurate typing skills are a benefit in many roles, especially if it means you can volunteer to take notes in meetings.

But are you fast enough? Take an online typing test to see whether your speed qualifies you to put this on your resume. 

Related Read: Best Teen Jobs: 20+ Jobs for Teenagers w/ Great Pay & Growth Potential

9. Mathematics

Math, it’s not just used in finance. Whether you did basic school math or continued learning after school, it’s a hard skill that often gets omitted from resumes.

Some jobs require complex, in-depth knowledge of mathematical principles. However, math is also used in admin, marketing, editing, research, and more! If you don’t have extensive math knowledge, even quick mental math or knowing what formulas to use is helpful.

Math isn’t like riding a bike, you need to keep practicing. Switch out mindless social media scrolling for a math app that helps you upskill and improve your math. 

10. Customer Service 

Although made up of a variety of soft skills, for the most part, customer service itself is a hard skill. You can only learn to provide a good customer experience through experience. Most jobs have an element of customer service involved, whether it’s flipping burgers or consulting.

Adding customer service to your resume skills section shows workplace experience, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and indicates general competence. And, many large companies use applicant tracking software (ATS) to parse the resume writing of the hundreds of job applications they receive, so don’t miss out on the job by not including these important skills on your resume!

Related Read: 15+ Best Night Shift Jobs & Overnight Work for Night Owls That Pay Well

Top 10 Soft Skills on Your Resume

Whereas it can be obvious which hard skills to add to your resume, adding soft skills is more subjective. It is vital that you quantify every soft skill, there’s no point saying you’re a good communicator without explaining why. 

List the skill, how you developed it, and times you’ve put it into practice with good effect. Remember, however, that the only hard skills and soft skills to put on a resume should be those relevant to the job description!

Here are the top 10 examples of soft skills that are useful for most jobs!

1. Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Even if you don’t have a great deal of workplace experience, these are transferable skills that will help in all workplaces. And, hiring managers absolutely love when you add these skills on your resume.

The combination of communication and overall interpersonal skills will help you fit into workplace culture and handle conflict. Everyone’s day will go much better if you’re capable of maintaining a focused and amicable conversation through your verbal communication and written communication.

Demonstrate how you’ve communicated with others to produce a great outcome and insight into how you’ve developed these skills. If you have related abilities, such as public speaking or written communication, these are also great skills to include on a resume!

2. Time Management Skills

You’ll be working to deadlines in most jobs, and no one likes someone that misses deadlines. So if you have evidence of managing your time well and being organized, it’s a great skill to include on your resume.

The key is planning, prioritizing, decision making, self-motivation, and organization. Unfortunately, most people have sub-par time management skills – if this is you, there are small things you can do to become a time management expert!

The best way to add these skills to your resume is to think about where time management skills may be essential in your new role. Then, add evidence of your successes in a previous similar situation. 

Related Read: 5 Daily Habits to Incorporate Into Your Job Hunting Routine for Success

3. CPD Focused Skills for a Resume

Continued Professional Development (CPD) is a big part of most career jobs. But, it’s often overlooked at the application stage. By showing that you are interested in CPD, you demonstrate an eagerness to learn and up-skill – this shows promise for turning employees into high-level executives.

Make sure you include an example of a time you’ve invested in CPD through your own initiative, not at an employer’s request.

4. Problem Solving and Critical Thinking 

You’ll encounter problems and barriers to success in any job. There’s nothing worse than a team that goes around in circles trying to find a solution without making any progress.

So employers are crying out for candidates that can sit down, assess the situation, think critically, and come up with solutions. A great critical thinker will approach a problem from all angles before pressing forward with the best solution.

Make sure you demonstrate examples of effective problem solving on your resume. Think about problems you will encounter in the role you’re applying for and show hiring managers an example of how you’ve overcome a similar difficulty. 

Related Read: 15 Best Weekend Jobs & Side Gigs for College Students & Professionals

5. Innovation and Initiative 

Innovation and initiative – buzzwords of the corporate world. As we know, the corporate world never stands still, there are always new competitors and barriers to market.

So, companies need innovators that will take the initiative to launch new ideas and help the company progress. Show the hiring managers or recruiters examples of when you’ve changed a process for the better, gone above and beyond, or spoken up to share ideas.

6. Team Oriented Skills on Your Resume

It’s assumed that people can work well on their own, what’s much harder is working well within a team. But it’s necessary for most roles. Show that you’re a great team member by identifying the role you fit into within a team and the qualities of others that you value in a team.

There are two key parts to teamwork. First, you need to demonstrate how you influence a team for the better. Second, you should show how a team encourages you to get great results. 

Related Read: 15 Best Part-Time Jobs [Great Pay, Solid Growth, & Easy Entry!]

7. Goal-Driven Job Skills

Every job has Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), otherwise known as targets. Employers and hiring managers want people that strive to meet and exceed these targets.

If you’re an experienced worker, you should be able to quantify this through previous jobs; think of a target you’ve been set, say what you did to meet the target and how successful you were.

If you haven’t had goal-based employment, you can demonstrate this by talking about goals you’ve set in your personal life, what you did to complete them, and how it changed your life for the better. 

8. Enthusiasm and Professionalism 

Everyone likes energetic employees, they’re great for workplace morale. But, with enthusiasm often comes a dreaded lack of self-awareness. The most important thing is to be appropriate for the workplace culture.

You can hit the nail on the head for enthusiasm and professionalism in one sentence. For example, ‘Actively encourages teams to feel comfortable and happy at work, whilst maintaining professional boundaries.’ This shows leadership potential, teamwork, a good work ethic, enthusiasm, and professionalism, all in one go!

Related Read: 21+ Best Freelance Jobs & Where to Find Them (In Demand, Great Pay)

9. Reliability / Dependability

Managers want to hear from you when they ask for something, and that’s it. Flaky employees require a lot of time and effort. A reliable, low-maintenance employee is the gold standard for managers.

Don’t disclose information that might portray you as a ‘needy’ employee. Make sure they know that you’re happy working alone on projects but also welcome feedback where it’s due. One of the best skills for your resume list for any job is to show you have a solid work ethic.

Henry Ford stated that ‘you can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.’ This is especially true when it comes to employment. In the workplace, if you say you’ll complete a task, you need to do it!

When a manager follows up with you, don’t be the employee that has to say ‘Um I’m sorry I forgot, I’ll have it done by three’ and then submit a rushed, poor quality piece of work. All this does is remind the manager that next time they should delegate to someone else.

Unfortunately, it’s something managers have to deal with all the time. So it’s a great time to emphasize how reliable you are on your resume for bonus points before even getting into the role. Think of a great example and quantify your statement.

10. Leadership and Management Skills to List on a Resume

Any reputable company should be employing you intending to progress you to become a great leader. Leadership and management are good skills for resume applications virtually anytime you’re applying for a job.

This might seem like a daunting skill to include if you’re new to the world of employment, but there are plenty of ways to demonstrate this at any experience level.

If you’ve had experience in management, it’s easy. Talk about how you lead, inspire subordinates and the effect it had on productivity.

If you haven’t had professional experience with leadership skills, it’s still easy – talk about group projects at school or college. Did you encourage all team members to share their opinions? Did you delegate specific tasks to each group member? Find examples of times you used leadership skills in a non-professional environment, as they would still be relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Mention the importance of a happy workforce that has trust in their leader and how you encourage this. Talk about times you’ve excelled in a team and level up on some great leadership quotes to mention in an interview! 

Related Read: How to Build Resilience (and Sustain It!) in 5 Easy Steps

What Skills Not to Put on Your Resume

It’s all well and good knowing what to add to your resume, but there are a few things that will land it in the bin without a second thought from the hiring manager. Avoid these three common mistakes to give your resume credibility.

1. Multiple Skills in One Long Sentence

It’s not a creative writing essay, keep it to the point. Long, flowery sentences distract from your message. 

The point of a resume is to let people pick out specific skills and experiences they’re looking for. Keep your skills section to either bullet points of skills (and quantify in your experience section) or brief sentences.

2. Microsoft Office

‘Skilled with Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and OneNote.’ This is the biggest waste of words in a resume. In 2021, it’s assumed that an applicant is skilled with basic programs like Microsoft Office. 

Unless the job advert specifies that it’s required, leave it out. If they request these skills, write ‘skilled with Microsoft Office’ or ‘Microsoft Office Super User.’

Related Read: How to Set Goals You Can Actually Achieve (7+ Tips for Success)

3. Irrelevant Skills

Every word on a resume counts. If the experience you have doesn’t apply to your current job application and job description, it’s not worth including it in your resume skills list. 

The only exception is for hard skills that also demonstrate soft skills that are also required in the role you’re applying for. For example, you won’t impress employers by adding your knowledge of programming languages, SEM marketing, or Google Analytics if you are applying to be a graphic design artist!

Great Resume Skills Get Interviews

So now you know exactly how to get an interview with a great resume skills section. Combine a mixture of hard and soft skills, and quantify each of them. Make sure you tailor your resume by reading the job description, including only relevant skills, and writing one resume to this particular job (rather than one generic resume sent to all the job descriptions you’ve saved).

Your resume skills list could be the difference between getting the job or not, so make sure it demonstrates exactly why you are the best and only person for the job! 

Now your skills section stands out from the crowd, it’s time to take an in-depth look at the rest of your resume. Learn which resume format is best, and check out our list of great resume tips, as well! Finally, don’t forget your cover letter before applying for the job. Check out our list of cover letter tips, but remember, employers are looking for relevant skills, so leave off anything unrelated to the specific job description you’re applying for.

Good luck on your job hunt!

Related Read: How to Address a Cover Letter: From Heading to Date to Salutation + More

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Goodwall Contributor
Written By Goodwall Contributor
This article was written by a contributor for publication on Goodwall. Goodwall is dedicated to helping students, entrepreneurs, and young professionals reach their full potential. We'll share thought-provoking and supportive articles on career advice, self-improvement, navigating the college landscape, climate action, social impact, and more. On the business side, we'll talk about SMB subjects related to community, diversity, talent acquisition, case studies, and enterprise.

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