A correctly written resume skills section can help you land the job you have been dreaming about. And if you get it wrong, the job slips out of your hands despite being the perfect candidate.
Most of the sought-after skills in the job market, both essential and optional, belong to three categories:
- Universal skills, which are essential in any job regardless of the business, industry, or vertical.
- Specialist skills, which are specialized qualities that vary depending on the nature of the job.
- Soft skills, a spectrum of skills that don’t rely on one’s professional experience, but are based on an individual’s personality, attitude, and intrinsic qualities.
Any skill or quality you mention in your resume’s skills section must fall into one or more of these categories.
Let’s analyze each of these categories.
1. Universal resume skills
“They are often the most difficult for candidates to catalog and list, mainly because they seem obvious to us and we do not think that they may be important to our potential employer. In fact, however, due to their universality they may predispose us to hold many job positions” – Jon Nowak, international job vacancies website expert.
Some of the skills that belong to this category are:
- Computer literacy. Nowadays, it’s difficult to imagine a job where the knowledge of computers is not required.
- Team management. Going solo for a long time is not possible; ultimately, it’s about leading and guiding others. Team management requires acumen and empathy.
- Communication skills. Extracting the essence of a message and conveying the same in a clear and precise manner is a minimum requirement. This communication could be in the form of a presentation, report, etc.
- Resistance to stress. Not every job involves working under pressure, but if you can handle stress, you’ll be seen as an asset who can be relied upon in testing times.
2. Specialist resume skills
Specialist skills represent qualifications that are strictly connected with a given profession, e.g. programming (in IT), keeping accounting records (in accounting), or extending electrical installations (in architecture). If you apply for a job position in the industry that you are currently working in, your specialist skills need to be highlighted to the maximum extent.
If you apply for a job in a related industry, you need to consider how to present these skills. Some of them, even though seeming specialist in nature, may actually be universal. After all, the ability to do a specific task can be an indicator of one’s overall performance and caliber (in some instances). Some of these skills, however, may be irrelevant to an employer.
Remember, this category forms the core of one’s resume skills. So be generous and include every specialization you have worked on.
3. Soft skills
“These skills should be included both in a cv and in a cover letter. What is meant by soft skills is a list of traits that reflect your personality. Thus, it is worth considering carefully what makes you a good employee.” – An employment expert.
The most frequently mentioned soft skills are:
- Teamwork. Not everyone is a team-game fan, but for any employee, it is crucial that he or she gets along with peers and colleagues.
- Loyalty. If you worked for a few years for a company that has seen ups and downs, it is worth highlighting the stint in your resume.
- Optimism. For some people, a glass is always half-full. Optimism is a highly valued trait across organizations.
- Creativity. Textbook solutions won’t help in achieving every objective. Out-of-the-box ideas are sometimes the only way to get the job done.
- Ability to adjust to new situations. Flexibility is imperative for a successful career. Otherwise, stagnancy can kill a flourishing individual. People who are able to cope with changes can inspire others to do the same.
How do you write the perfect resume? Well, this article by the Office of Career Services at Harvard University should give you a head start and solve any other doubt about the resume skills section.