Resume & Cover Letter

How to Write a Resume Skills Section

we will explore why your skills section is so critical to landing the role you want. We also outline the different types of skills, how to identify which you possess, and show you the most effective way to incorporate them into your resume.

What is a skills section, and why is it important?

Impressing a potential employer takes more than a standout academic and professional history. You must prove that you have the skill set to get the job done.

Companies look to hire people who can both perform the technical aspects of the job and bring new ways of thinking and problem-solving to the organization.

For this reason, crafting a well-balanced skills section is critical to showing a recruiter or hiring manager at a glance that you have the qualifications needed for the role.

Including the right skills also plays a crucial role in helping a resume get through an applicant tracking system (ATS). An ATS is software used by many employers to weed out unqualified candidates. It scans resumes, searching for keywords from the job ad. Those candidates who have the sought-after keywords will be considered for an interview. Those that don't will likely be eliminated from consideration. Your skills section is a repository of many of these keywords, making it a critical element of your resume.

Write a resume skills section in 7 simple steps

Preparation is just as important as the actual writing of your skills section. Here is a checklist of tasks to complete before and during the resume-writing process:

3 tips for writing your skills section

  1. Eliminate irrelevant skills. Your skills list should contain 10-12 critical skills, including as many as possible cited in the job ad. These are the skills employers want to see right away. Cull your list to eliminate anything that is not relevant to the role at hand. Nonessential skills will only distract a busy recruiter from getting to the meat of your skills section.
  2. Create special sections. If you are using a combination or functional resume format, you should also add separate sections that provide samples of your skills in action. A summary of qualifications is a great way to include accomplishments showing the use of a particular skill and the positive results accomplished.
  3. Perform an honesty check. Review your list of skills again. Ask yourself if you have embellished or lied about any of the skills on your final list. While it may be tempting to include a new in-demand skill or elevate your familiarity with a piece of technology to make yourself seem more appealing, be truthful. Background checks are a common part of the hiring process and most lies will eventually be exposed.

Skills section examples by experience level

Your skills section will change over the course of your career. As an entry-level applicant, it will likely be shorter and more general. As you progress professionally, you will begin to develop more and more specialized skills. Here are some examples of how your skills section might look at different stages of your career:

No experience:

Entry-level:

Mid-career:

Executive-level applicants:

Career change:

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