Resume Skills Section: Top Skills to Add to Your Resume in 2020

Online resume writing guide February 05, 2020 · 13 min read

If someone is going to employ you, they want to know what you can do. It makes sense that a lot of employers will jump straight to your skills section to get a feel for what exactly you can add to their team.

It’s important you remember...

You are only going to get a callback for a job if you can show the employer that you have the professional skillset for the role they’re recruiting for.

Employers are looking for particular people with particular skills.Employers are looking for particular people with particular skills.

Make sure that you’re talking about all your relevant skills; you don’t want to be boring the HR manager with the swimming certificates you achieved in elementary school.

Have you ever considered what are good resume skills? Struggling for ideas for what to put in your resume skills section?

Don’t stress, we’ve got your back.

We’re going to run through the different professional skill sets that will be relevant for you, as well as how you go about choosing which ones you need to include in your resume skills section. To make everything fall nicely into place, we’ll even let you know where the skills section fits into your resume and what format to use.

Keep reading to understand the top 5 hard and soft skills that most employers are reading about in 2020…

The Skills Section, What’s It About?

It can be tough to know exactly what to write in a resume skills section.

Sometimes called “Additional Skills” rather than “Skills Section”, here is where you show off everything that you can do that is useful but not necessarily easy to identify in your Work History / Professional Experience section.

Having a great skills section gives you a chance to show your potential employer exactly what capabilities you can offer to their business.

Write key-skills in your resume that are most relevant to the job requirements. Write key-skills in your resume that are most relevant to the job requirements.

You need to keep things honest, and also give some concrete examples of when you’ve actually used the skills in the past. It’s important that you:

  • List skills and abilities that you’ve got real experience in
  • Provide solid examples of those skills in action

To give you an example…

If you’re an engineer applying for a management role, you want your future employer to see that you have leadership skills. As well as pointing it out in the skills section, you’d talk about being a project lead on-site or having delegated tasks among your colleagues and designing and implementing process improvements.

Pro-Tip
Your resume is most effective when you customize your skills section to align with the job description for the role you want. If you can show your skills match up to the job requirements, you’re much more likely to get the call for an interview.

Different Skills to Include on a Resume

There are many categories of professional skills, but in general, they will all fall into two main types - hard and soft skills. These mean:

  • Hard skills are generally related to tasks that you can complete and have had training in. Some examples of hard skills are being able to operate a type of machine, being literate in specific programming languages, SEO, analyzing data, and designing graphics.
  • Soft skills are also known as "people skills" and can be intangible and subjective. They’re not as easy to quantify, your definition of being a “good communicator” might be different from the recruiter reading your resume. Some other examples of soft skills include public speaking, patience, decision making, and conflict resolution.

Which one gets the top billing on your resume?

The best idea is to write both hard and soft skills which fit the job best.The best idea is to write both hard and soft skills which fit the job best.

When the job market is tight, hard skills are more likely to get you hired because the employer sees you a cheap hire who won’t need a lot, if any, training.

When there’s high demand for labor in a market, people with important soft skills are more likely to get their foot in the door.

Bringing that idea into the real world…

In LinkedIn's 2019 analysis they looked at the 50,000 skills that get listed in people’s profiles. Turns out, the ideal candidate will have a combination of hard and soft skills for the jobs they apply for and the most sought-after skill was creativity.

Pro-Tip
Both skill types are important to include in the skills section of a professional resume. These types of professional skills can be categorized as transferable or job-specific.

Top Skills to Add to Your Resume

The skills you include on your resume are going to vary depending on what job you’re going for, your level of seniority in the sector, and the industry you operate in. There are, though, certain skills that will always be valuable to an employer.

Soft skills and hard skills: what are they?The list of skills you’re going to put in your resume highly depends on the job you will choose.

We’ve got the list of the top soft and hard skills that were in demand by employers throughout 2020, according to LinkedIn. Need to know what are good resume skills? Here’s your answer.

Here’s your answer.

Top 5 Soft Skills For Your ResumeTop 5 Hard Skills For Your Resume
Being creative
Looking at problems from different perspectives and finding fresh solutions will always be an asset in any job
Cloud Computing
Everything is heading on to the cloud: companies in every sector and of every size are hunting down cloud experts
Being persuasive
It’s all well and good having stand-out products or services, but you need to be able to bring people round to seeing how great it is
Artificial Intelligence
AI is ready to take off in the new decade, and if you’ve got machine learning on your resume you’re going to be very much in demand
Being collaborative
With employment models changing to be global and remote focused, being able to work well with a range of people is crucial
Analytical Reasoning
We live in the age of big data, and if you’re able to analyze it and make strategic decisions then companies want you onboard
Being adaptable
No matter your industry, times change fast so being able to cope and thrive as technology and processes change is a vital skill
People Management
Management isn’t about “do as I say” anymore, it’s changed to being able to empower and coach skills - much harder to master and much desired by employers
Managing time well
It never goes out of fashion; valuing time and understanding the importance of deadlines protects yours and your employer’s reputation
UX Design
With technology constantly evolving, designing it in a way that everyone can use is increasingly important and needed in the workforce

Where Do Skills Go In Your Resume?

It depends on the format that you choose for your resume as to where your skills section is going to land. Which format you choose is dictated by your level of experience and skill.

Pro-Tip
When you’re full to the brim with both hard and soft skills, look at your industry and see what it is they need; this is what you include in your resume skills section.

When deciding where to put resume skills, keep this advice in mind…

When choosing your resume format, you’ve got four standard ones to choose from:

There’s a lot more detail about when to use each resume format that we’ve covered for you.

  • In a functional resume, your skills section needs to list your successes and skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, next will come the section listing your professional experience.
  • A chronological resume will have your skills section placed towards the end.
  • Choosing to use a combination resume means you’re using parts of a functional and chronological resume. If you’ve got experience in the field you’re applying for, put the skills section below this information, if you’ve no relevant experience, then add it towards the beginning of your resume.
  • When using a targeted resume that you’re tailoring to the exact job you want, include your skills with the professional experience that is needed for the specific job, and then list any additional skills at the bottom of your resume.
Pro-Tip
You should consider including a resume objective or summary; it’ll show the recruiter your background and professional qualifications. Take a look at a walk-through of the differences between an objective and summary and tips on which one to choose for your needs.

How to Choose the Level of Expertise

As much as you might want to include a skill in your resume because you know it’s what the hiring manager wants to see, you might be asked to prove your claims in the interview or on the job. It’s not mandatory to add your level of competency for your skills, but it can help validate your claims.

Use the level of expertise to show your real knowledge in different areas.Use the level of expertise to show your real knowledge in different areas.

Here’s our handy guide to how to word resume skills so you’re being honest and accurate.

BeginnerIntermediateExpert
This means you’re a novice, in that you’ve been exposed to the skill and know what it is and understand the basics, but you’ve not got much in the way of solid experience using it. There’s no harm in adding “beginner” next to the skill if you know it’s important to include. You know more than a beginner and have used the main principles of the skill, but you still have plenty to learn about it to become advanced. You wouldn’t normally need to note your skill level if you’re intermediate. You’re at the top of the game of a skill you’re an expert in it; you’ve got a lot of experience and probably completed training in it too. If it fits, it’s fine to note that you’re an expert in parentheses next to it, and if you’re an expert in all your skills you can call it “Expertise”.
Pro-Tip
When you’ve got a long list of diverse skills, sub-headings are your friend. They will break down everything into neat sections and make everything look organized. Group skills into reasonable categories with a simple and effective name.

Matching Skills with Job Applications

It’s all well and good padding out your resume with a whole bunch of skills, but no one is going to care if they don’t match up to the job you’re aiming to land.

Although we’re going to list some great examples, they won’t all belong on every resume.

How to describe resume skills in the most effective way?

Not every job description is going to have a lot of details about the position, but there are always going to be clues as to what the hiring manager is looking for in their new recruit. Make sure you look at the job listing carefully, especially the soft skills that they want to find.

  • “Adapt sales techniques to match customer needs”? 👉 Adaptability
  • “Find resolution for customers who have had a negative service
    experience”?
    👉 Conflict Resolution
  • “Support aims of the business and team where necessary”? 👉 Teamwork
  • “Communicate product and policy changes to customers
    and teammates”?
    👉 Communication skills

You’re going to have some skills which are exact matches to what you see in the job description, and other skills will have a loose link to them - it’s not wrong to stretch the truth a little, but make sure you stay honest.

Don’t worry if you hit more hard skills than soft, or vice versa. Everyone has a different range of skills and background and there’s no completely right answer when applying for a job.

Pro-Tip
When you’re going for a career change, go for a full rebrand and leave off the skills you’re not going to be using anymore. This is particularly important if they’re not inherently useful or transferable. An executive assistant looking to move into diversity and inclusion can leave behind the flight booking skills.

What Does It Actually Look Like?

This is an example of well thought through skills section for someone looking applying for roles as a teacher:

Communication

  • Strong ability to communicate with kids of different ages, cultures, abilities, and learning styles.
  • Clarity in communication with parents. Professionalism with colleagues.
  • Expert in dealing with different classroom situations. Have strong problem-solving skills.

Teaching

  • Strong experience in creating Assignments and Exams.
  • Huge experience in creating a positive learning environment, delivering the material, and developing lesson plans.
  • Comprehensive experience in managing student behavior, Special Education, CPR.
  • Ability to manage time and to focus on important and time-sensitive tasks to meet deadlines.

Social Relations

  • Ability to use different social platforms to communicate with the public and organize events.
  • Public speaking skills.
  • Experience in searching, developing and leading different excursions for children of different ages.
  • Developing and leading school events.

Technical Skills

  • EduSyS, SchoolTime, Microsoft Office (expert)
  • Adobe PS, Indesign (intermediate)

And this is what it shouldn’t look like:

Skills

EduSyS, SchoolTime, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Publisher, EDrawsoft, time management, conflict resolution, creative, adaptable.

It’s clear that you need to pull out the relevant hard and soft skills and make them relevant to specific subheadings. It’s a short section, but it still needs to be easy to skim over to get the idea. Do you think anyone is going to bother getting to the second line in the second example?

Strong vs poor skills section in resumeTry to fully describe your skills using lists and bullets to make the section nice and readable. Avoid straight text.

Using bullets and subheadings makes the recruiter going through your resume start reading again. Even more, they give the reader an overview of the broad range of skills that you have.

Summing Up

The job that you’re applying for is going to play a big part in deciding the skills that you add on your resume. Other factors like your professional level and education will also be determining factors. Your list of skills is there to show the hiring manager that you’re the perfect fit for the role they’re filling and you can add definite value to the company.

Here’s an overview of the important things you need to bear in mind when you’re putting your skills into your resume:

  • There has to be a skills section in your resume that covers your relevant skills. Putting it in the right place is really important and changes depending on the format of your resume, which you can read more about in our comprehensive guide on the different resume formats.
  • Make sure every skill that you cover is specifically included for the job you’re applying for. Pay special attention to the job listing and look for the keywords that they’re going to be looking for on your resume.
  • Tie your skills section into the other sections in your resume. We’ve got a full guide about writing a resume so you can really get to grips with how to connect everything together.
  • Hard and soft skills both belong on your resume. Whether the skill is applied directly or indirectly, and whether you got it through education and training or developing your personality are the key difference between the two.
  • Note your level of expertise. You can highlight your competency in the skills you have by qualifying your skills as beginner, intermediate, or expert.
  • Keep things organized and logical. Divide skills into sensible categories that are relevant to the job, and use bullets or subheadings to make it easier to read through.

After reading all about what to say in a resume skills section, are you ready to jump into writing your resume? Why put it off any longer? Here you can use our free resume builder, with a vast range of formats that will help you land the job you’ve always wanted!