resume tips (part 5): skills for your resume.

  • resumes
  • March 31, 2017

Wondering what skills to put on your resume and how you should format them? We've got you covered there.

If you are using a skills-based resume format or don't have a lot of relevant work experience, then you should consider creating a section that speaks to your core professional competencies. This skills section of your resume will usually include a list of skills relevant to the job qualifications, both to focus attention on your capabilities and call attention away from any lack of ground-level experience in your industry.

resumecreate a list of skills if you’re using a skills-based resume or if you don’t have a lot of relevant work experience.

Make sure to focus on relevant skills — don't list things that your employer can't utilize on day one. This may require some research into industry standards, especially if you're looking into employment in the tech industry. The job skills section of your resume is optional for reverse-chronological resumes; however, it might be useful to include if the position for which you are applying requires a lot of specific expertise.

how to format the skills section of your resume

  1. Put your job skills section directly below your career highlights area.
  2. Use the same header sizing and font as for your other major sections.
  3. Title this section Job Skills or Technical Skills, depending on the position for which you are applying.
  4. If you have relevant professional skill in a number of different disciplines, separate them by category. Your employer will be able to more easily discern your overall skill set from these categories.
  5. This section should take up less space than a paragraph on your resume. Try to limit your skills to five or six bullets or categories.

separate your skill set by category if your expertise stretches across disciplines.

resume skills examples for various fields

When it comes to figuring out what skills to list on your resume, focus on hard skills (specific technical knowledge and training). Your soft skills (like communication, resourcefulness and leadership) will be inferred based on the accomplishments and responsibilities you highlight later on. When writing, use bullet points for emphasis, and create a list of skills that looks something like this:

  • Financial Software: Oracle, Quicken, Excel
  • Operating Systems: Linux, Unix, iOS X, Windows NT
  • Database Systems: MySQL, Ingres, SQL Server
  • Machinery: Forklift operation and repairs

keywords in your job skills section

  • Like most sections of your resume, using keywords in your job skills area is a must.
  • Remember, computer programs and recruiters will scan your resume for these relevant words and phrases.
  • Look through the job posting and research current industry standards to determine which buzzwords and phrases you should include.
  • Since this section includes bullets, you don’t need to worry about working them into a sentence.

magnifying glasspopulating your resume with keywords will help it get past early, automated sourcing rounds.

For more on writing your resume, head on over to part six in our resume-writing series: how to write and format your work experience