How to Choose The Right Skills to Include in Your Resume

Striking the balance between accurately listing your skills in your resume without overdoing it can be a challenge. Discover how to do it in this post.

Gabriele Culot
Written by Gabriele Culot
March 1, 2023
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Key takeaways

  1. Skills and experience are the backbones of an effective resume
  2. Be selective and only include the most relevant skills to your professional profile
  3. Clarity can go a long way; avoid padding your resume with repetitive or irrelevant skills

While crafting an effective resume is an art that requires a lot of fine-tuning and customization depending on who you are sending it to, no amount of tweaking and polishing will carry results if you overlook the most essential part of your resume: your skills.

Knowing what skills you should add to your resume is a skill in itself, and in this post, we will give you some tips to help you structure the best resume, dazzle hiring managers, and ace the job interview for that job application you set your heart on.

So let’s look at the right skills to add to your resume skills section. A common distinction between types of skills is between hard and soft. 

Hard skills

Hard skills are objective and measurable. They can be obtained through education or experience and are often what a recruiter will look at first. Good examples of hard skills can include:

  • Knowledge of a language
  • A degree or certification
  • Experience with specific software or hardware
  • Technical skills

What hard skills you should add to your resume depends a lot on what your professional profile is and what roles you are applying to. However, here are some examples, grouped by job type:

Programming languages:

  • Syntax and semantics
  • Logic and algorithms
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Functional programming
  • Data structures
  • Integrated development environments (IDEs)
  • Debugging and troubleshooting
  • Software testing
  • Version control

Web development:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Front-end frameworks (e.g., React, Angular, Vue)
  • Back-end frameworks (e.g., Node.js, Django, Ruby on Rails)
  • Web servers and hosting
  • User experience (UX) design
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Responsive design

Data analysis:

  • SQL
  • R
  • Excel
  • Statistical analysis
  • Data visualization
  • Machine learning
  • Data modeling
  • Data cleaning and preprocessing
  • Big data technologies (e.g., Hadoop, Spark, Hive)

Graphic design:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Typography
  • Layout and composition
  • Color theory
  • Design software and tools
  • Digital media design
  • Print design

Project management:

  • Agile methodologies (e.g., Scrum, Kanban)
  • Waterfall methodologies
  • Project planning and scheduling
  • Risk management
  • Budgeting and resource allocation
  • Stakeholder management
  • Communication and reporting
  • Quality assurance
  • Change management

Accounting and finance:

  • QuickBooks
  • Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
  • Financial modeling
  • Financial analysis
  • Auditing
  • Tax preparation
  • Bookkeeping
  • Risk management
  • Investment analysis

Marketing skills

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Web analytics
  • Marketing automation
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Graphic design
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Keep in mind that many of these are transferable skills that can be useful in multiple different roles or departments. So while CRM might be an important skill within marketing, it’s equally relevant as a one of the core customer service skills.

Soft skills

Soft skills mostly describe how you communicate and interact with people. Unlike hard skills, these are often traits of your personality. While they can be learned and trained, there is usually no certification for them. It’s also challenging to objectively assess them. 

Still, soft skills (also sometimes called people skills) can be critical in the decision to hire one candidate over another and can heavily influence team dynamics and company culture, so you shouldn’t overlook their importance. 

Examples of soft skills include:

Communication skills

  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Active listening
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Presentation skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Persuasion skills
  • Interpersonal communication

Leadership skills

  • Decision-making
  • Delegation
  • Motivation
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Goal-setting
  • Conflict resolution
  • Strategic thinking
  • Accountability
  • Inspiring and influencing others

Time management skills

  • Prioritization
  • Task delegation
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Time tracking and analysis
  • Managing interruptions and distractions
  • Setting boundaries
  • Work-life balance

Problem-solving skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical reasoning
  • Creative thinking
  • Innovative solutions
  • Logical reasoning
  • Research and analysis
  • Risk assessment
  • Troubleshooting

Adaptability skills

  • Flexibility
  • Resilience
  • Ability to learn quickly
  • Agility
  • Open-mindedness
  • Teachability
  • Comfort with ambiguity
  • Creativity
  • Resourcefulness

Teamwork skills

  • Collaboration
  • Active participation
  • Building relationships
  • Conflict resolution
  • Positive attitude
  • Empathy
  • Trust
  • Dependability
  • Accountability

Interpersonal skills

  • Empathy
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Networking
  • Conflict resolution
  • Relationship-building
  • Active listening
  • Self-awareness
  • Social awareness
  • Cultural competence

This list of skills, though not comprehensive, will be a good starting point to get you questioning which ones represent you best and how you can leverage them to boost your professional profile. Once you know what makes your profile unique, you can focus on designing a resume that stands out and makes your key skills shine even brighter.

How you choose to balance and prioritize these skills depends mainly on your role, the specific job you are applying to, and the career path you want to take. Some soft skills, for example, may be less relevant if your job doesn’t require much interaction with customers and coworkers, but teamwork and leadership skills may become more critical if you need to manage a team or negotiations.

Skill-listing best practices

Be selective

It can be tempting, especially in your first interactions with the job market, to turn every little experience into a “skill” and add it to an ever-increasing list you submit with your resume. However, not being selective with the skill sets you include has the effect of drowning out the more valuable selling points in your resume, as recruiters will not have the time, or will, to read through a giant list.

Be clear

The more detailed you can be about your relevant skills, the better. There is a considerable difference in listing “Effective communication” as opposed to “Public speaking”. The former can mean many different things to different people and do not provide any information, while the latter two immediately show how you could add value to the team.

Don’t say “Computer skills“, say “Powerpoint“ or “HTML“.

Don’t say “Writing skills“, say “B2B writing“, or “Social media content writing“, or “Long-form writing“.

Consider page economy

An effective resume should be brief and concise while communicating as much information as possible. Avoid repetition, and ensure each point you make in your resume is unique and valuable.

Learn to mix and match

Your resume should be a living and evolving document, and you should always take the time to include the best skills for the role you are applying to and remove ones that may not be relevant. As mentioned above, a recruiter’s time is limited, and they might read hundreds of applications, so make sure your resume is to-the-point.

Do your research

Looking at job descriptions and analyzing their wording and structure can help you pinpoint the top skills you should focus on in your resume. It’s also a great way to monitor how hiring requirements and preferences evolve over time, and adapt accordingly.

Looking for more career advice?

Deel helps connect the best workers with the best talent worldwide. Whether you’re a direct employee, EOR employee, or independent contractor, we make working from wherever easy.

In this content series, we share articles, templates, and guides to help job seekers and new hires navigate the world of work. These resources guide you through the entire hiring process, from preparing your resume to interviewing to identifying professional development opportunities.

Stay tuned for more actionable career path advice.

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