Skills Not to Include on a Resume

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 When you’re writing or updating your resume, include the skills you have that show why you’re qualified for the jobs you're seeking. You can include your top skills in a separate “Resume Skills” section, and work them into the job descriptions you write for the positions you’ve held.

These skills bolster your resume, but some skills don't belong on your resume because they could actually hurt your chances of getting chosen for an interview.

The skills you mention act as keywords to help your resume get selected by the ATS (applicant tracking system) employers use to screen applications. If you’re a match for the position, your qualifications and skill set show the hiring manager that you’re a viable candidate for the role.

When adding skills to your resume though, be selective and specific. Hiring managers want to know why you’re a strong candidate for the job, not everything you’ve been qualified to do for your whole working life. They also don’t want to know about all the things you can do which have nothing to do with the job for which you applied.

The person who screens your resume cares about the value you can offer the company, and that means being a good fit for the job requirements the company listed in its help-wanted ad.

Skills to Keep Off Your Resume

Skills You Don’t Have: This may seem obvious, but many people fluff-up their skills or put skills on their resume that they don't necessarily have. A CareerBuilder survey reports that more than three-quarters of Human Resources managers (77 percent) report having caught a lie on a resume. Some of those lies include exaggerating or embellishing the qualifications the applicant has for a job.

If you don’t have any of the skills the employer is seeking, reconsider applying for the job. Don’t fabricate skills or experience just to get hired. It will come back to haunt you in the long run, if you don’t have the skills you advertised on your resume. Even if you’re a quick learner, you may not have a good grasp of what you need to know if, by some chance, you do get the job.

What could be worse? Imagine getting grilled about your qualifications during a job interview, and not being able to respond because you don’t actually know enough to give a solid answer to the question.

Obsolete Skills: If you are, or were, a pro at working with outdated software or technology such as MS-DOS, Lotus 1-2-3, or Vista, for example, don’t put it on your resume. If you know how to backup files onto a floppy disk, keep that skill to yourself.

Many technologies have become obsolete, and knowing how to use them isn’t an asset other than in rare circumstances. In fact, it might make your knowledge seem very outdated, and your interviewer might think you're a tech dinosaur.

If you have been out of the workforce for a while, take the time to ensure you have current skills listed on your resume that employers demand and value.

Skills That Aren’t Relevant to the Job: The CareerBuilder survey that reported on resume lies, also reported on some of the most cringe-worthy resume gaffes. One of them was listing the skill “taking long walks.” While long walks help you stay in shape and unclutter your mind unless you’re applying for a job that involves hiking or outdoor fitness this does not belong on your resume.

If the skills you have aren’t remotely related to the job you’re applying for, leave them off.

General and Overused Skill Words: LinkedIn publishes an annual list of buzzwords that people overuse in their profiles. Some of those words don’t belong on your resume either. Before you use them, consider if there’s another, more specific, term that would better describe your abilities. Here’s a sample of some words on LinkedIn’s list of overutilized words:

  • Specialize
  • Experienced
  • Skilled
  • Leadership
  • Passionate
  • Expert
  • Motivated
  • Creative
  • Strategic
  • Focused

Be careful not only with the skills you list but how you word those skills and weave them into your listed experience. This list of 30 words that will make or break your resume can spark some ideas.

Skills That Everyone Should Have Already: Some of the overused buzzwords listed above are skills or traits that employers already expect job applicants to have as a minimum requirement.

Employers expect that you’ll be focused, have some experience unless you’re applying for an entry-level position, and will do an excellent job if they hire you. You don’t need to spell out these basic assumptions on your resume for the employer. 

On a similar note, don’t list things like Microsoft Office, email, or internet. Employers have an expectation that everyone knows the basics required for almost every office job in today’s workplace.

Before You Submit Your Resume

Before you submit your resume to apply for a job, take the time to review and refresh your resume so that it's going to give you the best opportunity to get the interview. You don’t have to spend a lot of time editing your resume to fit the employer’s job requirements, but even taking a few minutes to customize it will give you an advantage.

Take the Time to Decode the Job Ad: How can you tell what the employer wants in a perfect applicant for the job? You can pick up a lot from the job posting, and, it would help to also invest some time researching the job and the company itself to learn more details.

Here’s what to look for when you’re reviewing the job ad, including how to evaluate the job title, qualifications, requirements, responsibilities, and required experience.

Make a Match: Now that you’ve learned what the employer wants, match your qualifications to the job. Make a list of the skills in the job posting in one column. List the skills and experience you have that make you a contender for the job in the second column. Use the skills that are the closest match to what the employer is seeking in your resume.

Be Specific: Don’t list general skills, especially if you’re applying for a tech role. Avoid listing “Computer Skills,” and instead, include the programming languages, hardware, software, apps, and other skills you possess that qualify you for the job. If you have certifications, be specific when you list that certification. For example, list QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor, AWS Certification, SQL, iOS, or Java.

Use your resume to highlight the skills you have that can bring value to the employer. If you’re applying for a tech job, list all your computer skills in a separate section.

Tailor Your Resume for the Job: Job postings may seem similar, but every employer has a different set of requirements. Even when the job looks the same, each employer may be seeking something different. It’s important to tailor your resume to showcase your qualifications for specific jobs. Take a few minutes to tweak your resume, so it matches the position you're after.

Include These Skills on Your Resume

What skills should you include on your resume? Here are the best skills for resumes listed by type of skill and by job title. Review the lists to ensure you include your most relevant and marketable skills on your resume. Leave off the skills that don’t apply, and you’ll have a resume that’s focused on why you’re a strong candidate for the job.