How to Write the Skills Section of Your Resume

Today’s job market has grown more competitive, especially in this pandemic. Because of this, job seekers need to fine-tune their resumes to showcase why they are the best candidate for a job position. If you’re not getting callbacks from hiring managers, you may not be leaving them with enough impression. You might be skilled in many areas, but that means nothing if you don’t know what skills to put on resume.

Some job seekers lose the job hunting game due to their inability to put relevant skills on their resumes or even word them correctly. And with the prevalent use of applicant tracking systems (ATS) during the hiring process, one’s resume might not even get past that screening stage, So, how should job seekers write the skills section of their resumes? Don’t worry; our guide will help you craft an impressive skills section for your resume.

Let’s start with defining what types of skills for resume you should take note of.

What Types of Skills Should You Put on Your Resume?

Skills are viewed differently depending on the industry, thus not all of them get the same value. However, there are skills useful to all fields. We’ve compiled a list of them below.

Knowing what skills to put on resume also involves adding your level of expertise when listing them. This is so that hiring managers reading your resume understand what to expect from you. If you claim that you’re highly proficient in a skill, you must provide evidence to back it up. Add relevant work experience that showcases your expertise.

Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills

More often than not, soft skills always find their footing no matter the industry, such as the ones we’ve listed. Job seekers should add these to their resumes, especially if they’re included in the job description. If they’re not, then weigh your options; add them only if they’ll add value to your application in the eyes of the hiring manager. If your resume is crowded and you have other technical skills that outweigh these soft skills, then put the technical skills on your resume first.

Emphasize soft skills over hard skills when the position deals with many people. This can mean managing a team, working closely with colleagues, creating content for a target market, or handling customers directly.

photo of teamwork and leadership during brainstorming session

5 Essential Soft Skills to Put on Your Resume

1. Effective Communication

Communication is a required skill for almost all jobs. You’re in constant communication; you’ll be collaborating with coworkers, brainstorming ideas, reporting to managers, writing reports, and disseminating information. You’ll also need to communicate with people outside of your office if you have a client-facing job.

There are different types of communication—written, oral, and public, among others. Being a competent communicator means you can express your ideas and information regardless of audience or medium.

Fields like management, creative work, and research value communication more than any other fields.

2. Time Management

When you can manage your time well, you save not only yourself, but also your future employer from headaches caused by missed deadlines. It’s also a sign of self-discipline and good work ethic.

3. Teamwork and Leadership

It’s expected that teamwork is on our list when communication is at the top. Being a team player is important especially in a highly collaborative field, like creative work.

But why is leadership lumped in? It’s simple: A good leader must be a good follower, too. It’s suspicious if you claim you’re skilled at leading projects without saying that you’re a team player. If you don’t work well with people, it’s likely that you’re a bad leader.

4. Creativity

This skill is useful even in non-creative fields. Creative people are able to think outside of the box, often coming up with interesting solutions to problems. You can also use “creative” as a modifier for skills, like “creative problem solver,” “creative storyteller,” or “creative planner.”

5. Adaptability.

Being flexible wins you points with prospective employees. Adaptability is a universal skill to put on your resume regardless of the industry you’re applying for.

5 Essential Hard Skills to Put on Your Resume for Each Industry

Soft skills are not enough to land a job, however. Some hard skills are valued more than soft skills, depending on the industry.

Marketing and Advertising

This industry will value effective communication more than other industries because you’re expected to know how to communicate with people and convince them to buy your product or avail of your service. Creativity is another soft skill that is almost mandatory for this industry. You could also add teamwork on your resume as running a successful ad campaign takes collaboration.

Having said those things, job seekers looking to apply for a marketing or advertising job should consider these hard skills:

1. Market Research. This is a great skill to add if you’re not creative. Then again, it’s also a nice supplementary skill if you are.

2. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and A/B Testing. Job seekers must know these skills so that they can convert their audience into customers. And if a campaign isn’t working out even when it’s reaching its target audience, then the team must conduct A/B testing to make their advertisements more appealing.

3. Social Media Marketing

Email marketing isn’t enough; there are 3.7 billion people who use social media, with experts projecting that number to rise. Knowing how to formulate social media campaigns, maintain social media pages, and run ads on social media is necessary if your company wants to grow.

4. Content Management System (CMS)

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

photo of creativity skill graphic design

Creative Work

This is an umbrella for many creative professions such as copywriting, graphic design, photography, and all types of editing. Hence, it’s a given that creativity, communication, and teamwork are soft skills to put on resume. If you’re a writer, however, you can choose to omit communication as it’s already expected of you to be proficient in written communication. It’s also a good idea for job seekers to add time management here as they’ll be required to finish many projects.

Add these hard skills to your resume depending on the job description of the position you’re applying for.

1. Writing. Be more specific when you put this on your resume as there are many types of writing, each of which having their own uses. Examples include copywriting, proposal writing, technical writing, SEO writing, and email writing.

2. Graphic Design. You can add your proficiency in graphic design software here, but most positions in the industry demand that you have experience with Adobe Creative Suite programs such as Photoshop, After Effects, and Illustrator.

3. Photo and Video Editing. More and more job openings request these skills together in their descriptions, especially smaller companies.

4. Basic Design Principles. This includes color theory and typography, and it is necessary if you’re dealing with visual media.

5. Research. In order to create content, you must know how to research your topic. An ill-researched output might catch flak from higher-ups or your audience. Researching also allows you to create more interesting content when you find out about fascinating information about your topic.

Web Development

One of the technical skills to put on resume is web development. A type of programming, this skill is something you can include when applying for other programming positions. In addition to this, time management, teamwork, and creativity are good soft skills to add to your resume.

1. Programming Languages. Don’t add “programming languages” as is; specify which programming language you’re skilled in, preferably the one required for the job post. For instance, web developers usually use JavaScript for website programming.


3. User Interface and User Experience Design (UI/UX). A good web page is easy to use and makes sense. This is also true for programs and apps.

4. API Design

5. Troubleshooting

photo of web development skill programmer developing the computer source code

Accounting and Finance

If you’re applying for an accounting or finance position, communication and time management are great soft skills to put on your resume. Outside of the list above, however, it would be wise to add problem solving and attention to detail.

These hard skills are the most important in these fields.

1. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) Compliance

2. Risk Assessment

3. Advanced Microsoft Excel. This can be extended to the whole MS Office Suite, but Excel is the most important one to know.

4. Data Analytics

5. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Clerical and Administrative Work

Some soft skills to put on your resume for this field are communication, adaptability, and time management. Outside of the list, it would be good to add attention to detail, as you’ll usually be dealing with a lot of files and data entry.

1. Data Entry. Specifying that you can type quickly and accurately is a bonus.

2. Microsoft Office Suite. If you’re proficient with another suite of programs that’s similar to MS Office, you can specify that instead. However, employers usually want proficiency with MS Office.

3. Writing. There are several types of writing that clerical and admin staff use, but these are mostly technical or business communication. Examples would be email writing, memo writing, and sometimes, proposal writing.

4. Scheduling and Calendar Management

5. General Computer Knowledge. You need to know how to use a computer to work in this industry, as it’s expected that you use available technology to optimize your workflow.

Customer Service and Retail

Job seekers looking to work in customer service and retail must put communication in their resume. There’s no way around it as you’ll be dealing with many customers. For that reason, it’s also a good idea to add patience and empathy. Moreover, creativity, adaptability, and problem solving are good skills to put on resume if you intend to apply for a job in this industry.

1. Basic Technical Skills. Like programming languages for web development jobs, don’t add “basic technical knowledge” to your resume as is. Specify if you mean that you are proficient in using a computer, a cash register, or other devices that the job description calls for.

2. Customer Needs Analysis

3. Data Entry. Specifying that you can type quickly and accurately is a bonus.

4. Point of Sale Systems

5. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

How Do You Write the Skills Portion of Your Resume?

Tailoring Your Skills to the Job Description

Though there are hard and soft skills employers appreciate regardless of industry, different industries value some skills more. If you think adding more skills on a resume makes it impressive, think again; incorporating irrelevant skills makes your resume generic. Not only will you look like you don’t care for the job; it will also bore the hiring manager reading your resume. Thus, job seekers must be careful about the skills they put in their resume.

But how do you determine which ones are worth adding?

The job description should answer that question, but depending on how the employer worded it, you can add more skills that are relevant to the job. Read this sample job description:

We are looking for an outstanding copywriter for our company blog. You must be responsible, quick to understand our market, and can provide fresh ideas during our bi-monthly department brainstorming sessions. We’d love it if you have experience writing long-form content about healthcare.

Skills the employer would like to read in your resume probably include creativity, communication, research (general and market research), teamwork, copywriting, and adaptability. Take note of the modifier “outstanding”; this could be a general term, or it could mean the employer wants an experienced copywriter. It’s probably the latter because of the third sentence, in addition to no mention of training. You can also put time management and attention to detail in your resume to fulfill their request for a responsible employee.

woman listing her skills to put on resume

Arranging the Skills on Your Resume

How should you arrange the skills on your resume?

Arrange your skills in order of relevance or importance to the job. For example, if you’re applying for a client-facing role (like a salesperson), it’s better to put your soft skills such as communication and patience first. If you are applying for an output-heavy role (such as content creation), then you should put relevant hard skills first. After that, add creativity for your first soft skill. However, if you have a skill that you are highly proficient in that’s also relevant to the job, you may list that first.

Don’t separate your soft skills and hard skills. A good employee has the right mix of soft and hard skills. You should understand that both types of skills are important when working.

Group related skills together. This is useful for skilled professionals looking to move up the ladder. Instead of cluttering your resume with many skills, group them together under an umbrella term and elaborate what sub-skills you have.

Ensuring Your Resume is ATS-Compliant

In today’s day and age, more and more companies are making use of ATS to handle the growing number of job applications they receive. An ATS scans a resume for keywords inputted by the employer. Unfortunately, it turns the application process into a cruel guessing game. Keywords are everything with the ATS; wrong use of keywords can spell the difference between your resume being thrashed or reaching a human reader.

So how do job seekers ensure that their resumes are ATS-compliant? Here are some tips:

Read the job description, especially bulleted requirements. Employers often use keywords of the skills they want in an employee, so it’s best to use identical words when putting skills on your resume.

If it’s not clear what keywords they want to see, use standard industry terms. Elaborate on your specific proficiencies after listing the skill.

Be specific. Employers want to know what programming languages you use and which CMS you can handle. Listing “programming languages” can get your resume trashed; name-checking Python, Java, or C++ won’t.

Although the ATS is a huge obstacle during the job application, having an ATS-compliant resume won’t win you the job. Getting past the ATS only means you have a chance at a hiring manager reading your resume, so you must exert more effort than only ensuring your resume passes the ATS screening.

Impress Employers with an Outstanding Skill Set on Your Resume

If you want great examples of resumes for different industries, then you can check out resume samples crafted by our expert resume writers. If you like what you see or are unsure about how to write a winning resume of your own, then contact us today! We can write you an outstanding resume that not only passes applicant tracking systems but also showcases your skills and talents to impress the hiring managers reading your resume.

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