All too often people fall into the same trap with their resume skills section. Lets take a look at some key points to consider when writing this important, yet often overlooked, area of your resume.
Where to position the skills section in the resume?
You should position your skills section in the top half of the first page of your resume. Position it just before your Employment History or Work Experience section. The format should be bullet points and if you want to list 10 or more skills then consider formatting them into a 3 or 4 column table (remember to remove the lines as it looks better).
What skills are relevant to you?
Everyone is unique, so sell the skills that are unique to you. It’s hard to sell yourself sometimes but you just have to do it, so get your thinking cap on and get original. Think of skills you picked up on while working on projects, when you changed jobs, when you used a new system or piece of software or when you covered for a colleague. Don’t leave out the ones right in front of your nose though; If you’re a Sales Manager then Lead Nurturing and Key Account Management could be logical inclusions. Keep them precise.
Avoid the stereotypes
As an ex recruiter, I've read thousands of resumes and there is nothing more boring than reading the same old resume skills section. How can every applicant to job have the same skills sets Organised, Confident, Strong Communication, Diligent etc etc? Seriously, get creative and if you can’t think of anything then only put what counts or get some professional assistance. Managers want to read something relevant and thoughtful, you and your resume will look better for it.
What skills do hiring managers and recruiters want to see on a resume?
What resume skills are managers interested in seeing. The number one thing is skills relevant to the job they are hiring for. So, yes you should edit your resume skills section for each application. If it is a customer service position you’re applying to and your resume is set up for a sales rep job then you should edit it. In this example, consider adding Customer Complaint Resolution, Excellent Multi Tasker and Adaptive Problem Solver and removing some of the less relevant skills.
The most important areas to cover in your resume skills section
1. Decision Making and Problem Solving This might seem obvious so don’t leave it out. Someone who can work autonomously, handle problems as they arise and is decisive is a valuable employee in any organisation.
2. Process and retain new information Starting a new job can be daunting, there is a lot of new information to take on. Training new staff is an expensive exercise for companies so someone who can come into a job, understand new processes and procedures and remember them will be a star. Once you are established in your job, these skills are essential in day to day work in client meetings, briefings and training too.
3. Verbal communication with internal and external stakeholders In most jobs you are going to be dealing with staff in other departments, external customers and companies along with your own team. This is a critical skills set for the majority of employees and all employers will be comforted to see this in a resume skills section - but remember they could also ask you to back it up with evidence in an interview.
4. Personally organized and deadline driven We’ve all know someone who is late to appointments and always forgets things, you can let this slip as a friend but employers won’t. Managing your schedule, ensuring tasks are completed in time, coordinating projects to meet deadlines and delivering a product to a client when you said are critical traits of successful employees. At the end of the day, employers want to see evidence that you can follow company guidelines to achieve a task without distraction.