Key Skills For a Resume [Best List of Examples & How to]

Discover best practices for how to add your skills to your resume. We have gathered the best soft skills and hard skills and will guide you how to add them to your resume through comprehensive examples.
5/5/2020 7 min reading time Karin Lykke Nielsen @KarinLykke
Key Skills For a Resume [Best List of Examples & How to]

“Which skills should I add to my resume? What are the most important skills for resume?”

If you have tried to write just one resume in your life, you will have asked yourself these questions. And with good reason. 

Your skills are important. And how you apply your skills to your resume is important. So important in fact that most recruiters, and Applicant Tracking Systems, will be on the lookout for the exactly right skills.

Thus, having a skills section in your resume is a must nowadays. And it is very important to treat this section with great care and an eye for detail. But don’t worry, we will be there to help you along the way.

This guide will cover the following questions regarding skills for resume: 

  • Hard skills and soft skills for resume - what is the difference? 
  • How do I choose which skills to add to my resume? 
  • How do I list my skills on my resume? 

Without any further ado, let’s get started. 

Hard and soft skills - what is the difference? 

When it comes to skills for a resume there are several types to choose from. The two types we will focus on in this article are the hard skills and the soft skills. 

Below are the definitions for each of these. 

Hard skills

Let’s start with the hard skills.

They are called hard skills because they are both hard to come by and they are also (often) measurable. These are the skills that you acquire in a classroom or during training courses. In other words, they are teachable.

Another aspect of the hard skills is that they are rarely transferable to other job categories. 

For example, let’s say you are a software developer. During your education towards becoming a skilled software developer you will have learned a specific set of skills. These skills will not be transferable if you want to change your professional direction towards, let’s say, truck driver. Being a truck driver demands a whole different set of hard skills than a software developer. This is what non-transferable skills means. 

Examples of hard skills:

Hard skills infographic

Soft skills

Soft skills, on the other hand, are not (usually) taught. Think of them as a combination between your interpersonal skills, social and emotional intelligence, your personal character traits, and social skills.

It is your soft skills that allow you to navigate in your environment, both professionally and privately. They are the skills that enable you to collaborate successfully with your colleagues.

Soft skills cannot be taught in a classroom (you are either born with them or you don’t possess them). They are highly transferable and can determine if you are suited for a position or not. 

For instance, can you learn how to be more patient? No, you are either a patient person or you are not. And there is no right or wrong here. Being patient is a great soft skill if you are a kindergarten teacher. But if you are managing a team with a very strict deadline too much patience might not be desirable.

As you can tell, the soft skills are a bit fussier than the hard skills. They are no less important though since they are an integral part of who you are and how you interact with your potential colleagues. So they are important to know. 

Examples of soft skills: 

soft skills infographic

How do I choose which skills to add to my resume? 

Choosing the right skills to add to your resume is crucial to get past both screening bots (ATS) and the recruiter’s famous 6 seconds scan. But how do you choose the right skills for your resume? 

Well, first of all you need to create a master list of all your skills. 

The good news is, you will only need to do this once. Then you can pick and choose from it for each resume that you make. 

After that it’s all a matter of matching your skills, both soft and hard, to the job ad. Go through the job ad very carefully and highlight all the skills that are required. This process is very similar to adding power words to your resume. 

Now, note down all the skills you’ve highlighted from the job ad and see, with which of your own skills there is an overlap.

You might have to change the wording of your skills to match the ones the job ad mentions exactly (this is very important due to the ATS bots scanning your resume). For example, if one of your hard skills is graphic design but the job ad says web design, you should go ahead and write web design instead. Because this is what the ATS will be scanning for. 

How do I list my skills on my resume? 

Okay, so now that we’ve covered the basics and uncovered your skill sets, it’s time to get hands on. How (and where) should you list your skills on your resume? Well, there are a few ways to list your skills, depending on where you are in your career. 

In the following I will show how you list your skills in different ways depending on your needs. 

Skills for resume with extensive experience

If you have extensive professional experience you will want to put the most emphasis here, not on your skills. Your skills will then support your work experience. List your skills either at the bottom of your resume or in a column on the right side of your resume.

See examples below. 

Skills at the bottom

chronological resume with skills

Skills on right side column

chronological resume with skills on right side

Skills for resume without extensive experience

If you are fresh out of school, you will need to go about it a little differently. In this case it’s a good idea to put a lot of emphasis on your skills, since you probably do not have extensive professional experience yet.

You do this by creating either a functional resume or a hybrid (combination) resume (our recommendation goes to the latter). 

When adding your skills for a functional or a hybrid resume, you will have to create a skills summary section. Here, you type in your skills and don’t forget to describe how these skills transfer to the job you’re applying for.

Here is an example of a functional resume with a skills summary. Note, that it is listed as the first section after the profile. 

Resume with skills summary section

hybrid resume with skills summary section

Key takeaways

We hope you’re feeling confident about adding your skills for resume in a professional manner. The key takeaways from this article are: 

  • Create a master document of all your skills, both hard and soft
  • Pick and choose skills for each resume you create to tailor it for the job ad
  • Re-write your skills when necessary to target the ATS 
  • Add your skills for resume according to your level of experience

Professional resume examples to help you build a job winning resume:

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