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With all of the information that can go into a professional resume, it’s only natural to be confused as to what’s absolutely needed for yours. However, there’s one element that every job seeker should feel comfortable including in their final document for employers – the resume skills section.

Why Focus on Skills?

Unlike some resume sections that can be redundant or may have fallen out of fashion, such as the objective statement, the skills section truly is a necessity. Not only can it highlight proficiencies that you might not be able to cover in your work experience section, but spelling out your skills can give you a big boost with applicant tracking systems (also known as ATS). Knowing the soft and hard skill keywords employers are looking for can mean the difference between being seen and getting passed over.

Soft or Hard?

Just like pretzels, there are two types of job skills: hard and soft. Hard skills are those specific skills that you probably learned through training and are quantifiable. Examples include knowledge of how to administer a certain kind of health screen or experience with a specific CRM system. On the other hand, soft skills are a bit more subjective and hard to pin down with cold hard numbers. Examples of these softer elements include leadership and project management skills. Ideally, your resume skills section will be a blend of both.

Another way to define types of skills is by labeling them as transferable or job-specific skills. Transferable skills are ones that you can carry over to most any job you might take (think of things like communication skills), whereas job-specific skills are hyper focused for one particular role (think of know how to slam dunk for basketball players).

Build Your List, Then Get Tailored & Specific

A great way to get started when crafting your resume skills section is to write an exhaustive list of all of your soft and hard skills. No matter how minor they may seem, just keep adding to the list until you run out of skills to include. Obviously, you won’t be able to list 75 skills on your resume (especially if you’re trying to keep it to one page) but starting from a broad base will make the next step much easier.

Once you’ve gathered your master list, it’s time to start tailoring your resume based on the specific opportunity you’re applying for. For example, the skills you may want to include for a technical role involving specific systems might be different than a more customer service focused role. As mentioned earlier, keep the ATS in mind when selecting which skills to include; matching words from the job listing description is a great way to boost the visibility of your profile.

Solving Problems, Not Listing Duties

Once you’ve carefully selected your specific, targeted skills for the opportunity at hand, it’s’ time to decide exactly how you’ll phrase them within the version of your resume you’ll be submitting. Keep in mind that your skills section shouldn’t just be a long list of duties you’ve completed in previous roles. Rather, use the resume skills section as an opportunity to showcase your problem solving skills and ability to drive results. Instead of simply stating that you have “web design experience” maybe you tweak it to include “Wordpress proficiency leading to the creation of five successful websites.” Quantifiable, results-driven skills will stand out more than just a black-and-white inventory of standalone terms.

The debate over what should go into a resume will continue to shift and evolve as they way we work changes, but skills will never go out of style. It’s all about identifying what you bring to the table and connecting that experience to the keywords that employers are searching for – all while putting the emphasis on results.

How do you showcase your skills in the resume skills section? Share your approach in the comments below!

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