How to Write a Resume Skills Section
What's the best way to write a skills section for your resume, and highlight your qualifications for the job? The skills section of your resume includes your abilities that are related to the jobs you are applying for. In this section, you should list skills that are relevant to the position or career field that you are interested in, such as computer skills, software skills, and/or language skills.
Customize Your Resume Skills Section
Customize the skills section of your resume to match, as much as you can, the requirements listed in the job posting. The closer a match your skills are to the job requirements, the better your chances are for being selected for an interview.
For example, if you are applying for an administrative position, include in your skills section Microsoft Office skills, QuickBooks skills (if you have them), and other software programs you can use. If you are a computer programmer, list the programming languages, software, platforms, and other Information Technology skills you have.
Having a skills section makes it easy for a hiring manager to pinpoint if you have a specific skill required for a position. It is also an easy way to get resume keywords onto your resume. Many employers utilize automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan candidate resumes; these systems are programmed to search for specific keywords.
The more keywords your resume can “match,” the more likely it is that your resume will be selected for review by human eyes.
Resume Skills Section Example
- Mastery of Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
- Experience with QuickBooks and with maintaining office budget
- Ability to work with several operating systems, including Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux
Multiple Resume Skills Sections
If there are multiple types of skills that are important to the job you’re applying for, you can include more than one skills list in your resume.
For example, if you are applying for a job in education, you might include a “Computer Skills” list and a “Language Skills” list.
Skills Lists to Review
Not sure what skills to include? Here's a list of resume and cover letter keywords you can use to describe your skills, as well as lists of resumes skills for a variety of occupations and types of jobs.
Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Skill sets include both hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are teachable abilities or skills that can be quantified. Soft skills are subjective interpersonal skills (such as “communications,” “leadership,” “teambuilding,” or “motivational” skills) that are much harder to quantify.
Both types of skills may be included on a resume and in cover letters. Here's more information on the difference between hard skills and soft skills, and a list of soft skills.
Job Specific Skills vs. Transferable Skills
Job specific skills are those abilities that allow a candidate for employment to excel in a particular job.
Some skills are attained by attending school or training programs. Others can be acquired through experience learning on the job.
Job specific skills vary based on the position. For example, an IT help desk worker needs computer skills, teachers need lesson planning skills, and carpenters need skills working with power tools.
Job specific skills can be contrasted with transferable skills like communication, organization, presentation, teamwork, planning, and time management, which are required in a broad array of jobs.
Transferable skills are those that you use in almost every job. Both types of skills can be included in a resume.
Not Every Skill Should Be Included on Your Resume
While listing your skills is a good thing, not every skill you possess needs to be - or should be - included. First and most important: Do not list skills that you do not actually have.
Leave off obsolete skills (that program you learned to use in the dawn of computer technology, for instance). Plus, no need to include skills that do not relate to the job at hand. Unless you're applying to entertain at children's parties, your ability to make balloon animals shouldn't be included.
Review a full list of skills that are best left off your resume.
Other Resume Sections
There are many other sections on a resume. Below are other resume sections, with links to more information about what to include in each.
- Resume Headline
- Resume Profile
- Resume Experience Section
- Resume Education Section
- Volunteer Work Section (optional)
- Hobbies and Interests Section (optional)