How To Make Your Skills Sound Better On Your Resume

Writing your resume for the first time or editing it for the 100th can both be incredibly daunting experiences.

With today’s fast-paced, ever-evolving corporate environment, hiring managers are consistently searching for unique candidates in an oversaturated market.

This makes resume writing so much more integral to landing a job that you want.

Most hiring managers utilize applications called “Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS),” which help electronically filter through candidate resumes searching for keywords, required skills, and overall competency.

For example, if a job required Slack as a hard skill, and you fail to mention your proficiency within your resume, your resume will automatically be sorted out of potential applicants immediately.

That being said, making a point to highlight your skills effectively is essential to passing through the ATS successfully.

Keep in mind that hiring managers are sent hundreds to thousands of resumes per job advertisement. After making it through the ATS, your resume will have approximately 6-8 seconds to prove your worth.

This means that you should ensure it looks professional and highlights the key information in bite-size pieces for quick reading and digestion. Your goal is to provide information and make the hiring process as painless as possible for the employer.

The following part of this article will walk you through several suggestions to better your skills section so that it will pass inspection and highlights you as a strong and capable candidate for the jobs you are applying.

These suggestions are: (1) Do not list given skills, (2) Spotlight key skills, and (3) Highlight your knowledge by separating hard and soft skills.

By incorporating these 3 modifications to your resume, you’ve already created a great start to passing through the ATS and getting the hiring managers’ attention.

Tip #1: Do not list given skills

It’s in our nature to want to name each and every skill we have in order to show that we are qualified, if not overqualified, candidates. Though this approach worked in the past, now it’s more necessary to omit skills that would be assumed.

For example, previously it was necessary to indicate proficiency with technical skills including Microsoft Office and Google, however, now it seems redundant. In today’s technical climate, it is assumed that all applicants applying for positions have these commonplace skills.

Keep in mind that your goal of listing skills is to showcase your attributes, not bog down the hiring manager with information they already assume to know.

Tip #2: Spotlight “key” skills

The next suggestion is to spotlight “key” skills on each resume. This means that when applying to multiple jobs, ensure that you are adjusting your skills section based on the needs of the individual job.

It’s a great idea to use keywords and specific skills from the job description itself. If a requirement or specific responsibility is listed or has an apparent theme throughout the job description, use your skill section to highlight your ability to accomplish those tasks.

An effective way of doing this would be to rephrase their needs into your own voice and then adding that to your resume. For example, if the job description stated, “a strong background in CRM systems,” you could add, “Proficient with CRM system,” within your skills section.

However, avoid copying and pasting only the skills outlined in the job description, as this could be seen as unimaginative and hurt your chances of candidacy.

Tip #3: Emphasize the difference between soft skills and hard skills.

Previously, it was simple to add a single skills section and be content with your resume. Now, it is necessary to emphasize both hard and soft skills.

Hard and soft skills are equally important to create a compelling resume. An ideal way to include both skills is to create two separate lists. This allows for a hiring manager to easily read through both skillsets.

Remember, you have 6-8 seconds to convince the hiring manager that you’re a worthy candidate for the job.

In order to ensure balance across your resume, try to keep the number of skills on each list the same. For example, if you have 5 hard skills, ensure that you have 5 soft skills too.

In Conclusion

This article highlights 3 suggestions that you can incorporate into your skill section to make your resume stand out from others.

This includes: (1) do not list given or assumed skills, (2) take time to spotlight “key” skills, especially those that are discussed within the job description, and (3) emphasize the difference between your hard and soft skills by giving each their own section.

Marissa Letendre, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Marissa Letendre is a senior HR leader and resume expert with over 12 years of experience. She has worked for both startups and Fortune 50 corporations and has helped thousands land jobs at top companies. Marissa has written on a wide range of topics, including employee engagement, career development, resumes, job searching, recruiting, and organizational effectiveness and has been featured on sites such as Slack and The Undercover Recruiter.

Our Latest Blog