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Top 20 Must-Have Skills to Put on Your Resume
It’s up to you to make sure that you’re worth hiring. That seems kind of obvious, but standing out from the crowd can be tricky when everyone else seems to have the same experience as you. So, make sure that you stand out from the crowd by taking some time to think about the skills that you want to list on your resume. You know that you need soft skills and hard skills, but how do you make sure that your resume isn’t just a carbon copy of someone else’s? You should take care to mention key skills, but also be specific on why you’ve included them in particular.
The best skills to mention on your resume:
Here are some prime examples of resume skills that will impress recruiters and other professionals that are going to be taking a look at your resume and cover letter. They are split into two categories: soft skills and hard skills.
Soft skills are traits and skills specific to you as a person. These are skills that you would take from job to job with you and from position to position. They are more indicative of your personality and mindset rather than your education or background. These skills often are broad and that’s the point of them.
Examples of soft skills:
- Problem-solving and thinking on your feet:
- Critical thinking
- Communication and flexibility:
- Attention to detail:
- Time management:
- Integrity and honesty:
- Ongoing education:
When recruiters see these kinds of skills on your resume, they’ll know that you can handle yourself in a variety of situations and that you are going to be someone who will be experienced I noted right skills that, really, can’t be taught. That’s why it’s important to list these if they apply to your professional personality.
Hard skills, on the other hand, are specific kinds of skills that refer more to your past experience when it comes to education and/or job experience. This is where you’ll really want to put the time into getting these skills in the first place. While they can be taught to those who don’t have them, it’s nice for the recruiter or potential employer to know that they won’t need to teach you because you’ve already learned them.
Examples of hard skills:
- Data analysis:
- Computer skills:
- Experience with Adobe programs:
- Retail experience
- Public speaking experience:
- SEO experience:
- Web and graphic design:
- Project management:
- Writing skills:
- Foreign languages:
You’ll want to have a careful and refined balance between hard and soft skills. Quite a few will list those skills out in categories, though some may choose to blend them together in the same section. What you decide to do will depend on your template as well as the actual list of skills that you want to put forward.
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Tips for listing resume skills:
One of the mistakes that inexperienced job applicants make is to list all of their skills in both categories for every single job that they apply for. Their reasoning is that they want to make sure that they include everything so that the employer can see how skilled they are. This is great reasoning, but it’s important to resist the urge.
This is where researching the job is going to really come in handy. You’ll want to put the time and effort into taking a look at the job application and details and then use that to guide you as to what skills to definitely include or leave off since they aren’t really mentioned in the job ad. In essence, this is like keyword research and it will help you gain the recruiter’s respect. They’ll see how all of your skills are relevant and even if they notice that you connected them via keywords to the job ad, it’s not a problem. If anything, they’ll admire your dedication and research in order to do so!
Another tip to keep in mind is the actual skills that you are listing. Both hard and soft skills can be put down without, really, any kind of verification. Some people will say they have experience with, for example, Adobe programs when they really only have experience with Adobe Acrobat Reader (the PDF viewer). This is an example of resume padding and you should not do it.
Sure, it seems tempting to want to say that you can do all of these things or that you have all of these soft skills when you really don’t. Unfortunately, you will eventually have to test those skills out in either the interview or the actual job position and it will never end well for you. If you don’t have a skill they’re looking for, that’s okay. Just focus on similar skills that show recruiters your use. It’s better to do it that way than to deliberately say you have experience with something when you absolutely do not have that experience.
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Listing resume skills is one of those things that seems really scary at first but actually isn’t. You just need to give yourself time and experience to get used to it. You’ll get used to listing the right skills and even the order in which you should list those skills per job application. If you need some guidance, take some time to take a look at example resumes online and see how it’s been done by successful and experienced applicants in the past.
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Your cover letter is often the only thing that recruiters read during the first round. It’s not because they don’t care, it’s because they have to decide whether you make it through to the resume reading stage or not. As such, you’ll want to put some time and effort into your letter cover and make sure that you are going about it the right way. Here are some steps to use to help you, and some general tips to help you make it pop out (in a good way) against the competition.
10 Easy Steps to Write a Cover Letter:
There are some general steps that will help you make sure that you’ve thought about, and planned, each stage of the cover letter itself.
- Use a template: There is nothing wrong with using a template to help you out. There are all sorts of options out there that will help you get justifications, paragraphing, font and more right without you having to mess around with the formatting yourself.
- Find examples: Also take the time to read through a bunch of cover letter examples before you start with yours. It’ll help you learn some of the general tone and language to use and it’ll make your cover left draft that much easier.
- Get the header right: When it comes to actually start your cover letter, the first thing to think about is the header. This has your contact information as well as that of the company you are applying for. Make sure there are no typos or errors in either section. Recruiters will scan it.
- Use a personalized introduction: Make sure you take the time to figure out the recruiter’s name. It shows that you are really interested in the job opportunity and that you are applying for. It also means that you’ve taken the time to get to know the company, the staff, and other information online, In short: it shows you’re interested.
- Create an engaging first paragraph: The first paragraph — particularly the first sentence — is what is going to pull them into the rest of the cover letter. The paragraph should highlight your successes in similar positions before. It should also show them that you’ve been just waiting for those job opportunities to open up so that you can slot yourself in.
- Explain why you’re a fit for the job: Explain relevant past experience in a job position and give them quantifiable results that will show them just how good you are. Keep it sort of bragging, but don’t be afraid to use those real numbers and statistics.
- Express how excited you are to work for them — professionally: While keeping your tone professional, make it clear that you’re a genuine fan of the company and you can’t wait to work with them. Explain what you like about the company and about how you are looking for that in your job search.
- Close strong by showing how you add value: Finish it by reminding them how you can bring your skills and passion to the position. This should be re-iterating your points above, essentially, and bringing them to a final close with a “let me help you” kind of approach.
- Use the proper ending salutations: Go with a formal but not-stilted ending salutation to the letter. For example “Thank you for your consideration” or “Best regards”.
- Make use of a postscript for a little extra tidbit: While PS doesn’t look professional, it’s a great trick to add a little bit of “hush-hush” detail that they don’t want to miss (special skills or a particularly impressive statistic). It also will draw their eye, so make it worth their time to read!
This will help make the cover letter for a resume as strong as possible. All of these factors will work together to form a great introduction so that they can’t wait to read your resume.
Tips for making your cover letter pop:
For a little extra detail to help make all of those sections even better, here are some reminders.
- Focus on strengths and not what you’re missing: A lot of us want to apologize for the things we’re missing. We’ll say “Even though I only have 2 years of experience…” and it’s a drawback. You can still say the same thing, but you should frame it differently. “In the past two years, I have…” for example.
- Don’t be too formal: We all want to be professional, especially when the writer covers letters for a big job, but don’t come across as stilted. Omit the “thus” and “therefore”. Use professional language, but keep it approachable too — just like you would in an interview. Better yet, take a look at their online presence and mimic the tone they use.
- Be bold and forward: We all need to be bold and forward about showing ourselves off. If you aren’t going to show what you can do in a job application for your dream job, then when? Your cover letter is the place to show off your skills and talents and accomplishments. That’s what they’re looking for, after all.
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Your cover letter format should be professional, detailed but still not too long. Ideally, go for 100-300 words and always try to keep it on the shorter side, wherever possible. This will show the recruiter further respect, as you aren’t trying to waste their time with filler content and unnecessary sentences.
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We all know that work experience needs to go on a resume no matter what kind of resume format you choose. That being said, there is an art to listing work experience on the resume and it’s not something that is often thought about when even an experienced resume writer sits down to refine a resume for the position in which they’re applying. If you’re ready to make sure that you get that experience section right, here’s what you’ll want to keep in mind.
What does the work experience section do?
Before we can take a look at the actual format and content when it comes to the work experience section, it’s important to understand why you’re listing work experience in the first place. Sure, it’s to show that you have worked at a company for more than 2 months, but that’s just the start.
This section on your resume is going to show what you’ve accomplished within the various jobs that you held. How long did you stay? How long did it take you to find another job? What kinds of roles did you fill within the job? Are any surprising considering how low or high up the company ladder you were?
This is where all of that is going to be listed in proper format and depth. It’s also incredibly important to get it done right, whatever that means for you in particular.
What to include in the work experience section:
Now that you can truly appreciate the importance of this experience section, here are some critical details to make sure that you always include within the section:
- Quantifiable information they can follow up on: Within each position, you don’t want to simply describe the role that you are filling. The recruiter already knows what a teacher’s assistant does, for all. Use quantifiable information such as statistics to show off what you did for your employer within the role. Did you boost test scores? Did you help improve attendance rates? Whatever you put should be quantifiable and, of course, easy to follow up on.
- Training and certifications that show off your worth: Within the position, you can go ahead and list certifications as well as any kind of award or notable mentions that you got within the role. These will not only show your dedication to the role, but they’ll also be helpful within the role that you’re applying for now and that you don’t simply show up to work and do your job. You strive to do the best possible job you can. Showing off these certifications is a way for you to say that without actually, you know, coming right out and saying it.
- The job title, company, location, and dates employed: They seem like monotonous details, especially if they’re all local companies and positions. That being said, they show that you are taking the section seriously and that you can move around the community to take on different roles as needed. Make extra sure that you don’t have any typos, either, as it implies that you aren’t paying very close attention to the official details. An experienced resume is going to have several jobs listed here and having them all with their own details in the company, job title, and position as it changed, are important to show your progress.
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Tips for your work experience section:
With that context in mind, let’s take a look at how you actually list that job experience in a way that is going to be comfortable for recruiters to read and also unique enough that it makes an impact. Here are some reminders to help you make each position pop on your resume:
- Limit it to 3-6 bullet points: Once you’ve got the position and company and location all listed, you’ll want to take the time to properly put a description into the entry in the form of bullet points. While some use standard sentences, you should go with the bullet point approach, They are fast to read and your recruiter will enjoy the ease of browsing. Keep the bullets short and sweet and stay between 3-6 points per entry.
- Focus on active and powerful verbs: When listing your job description stay way from pronouns and filler words. Use active, unique and power verbs that imply action and encouragement. If you need to use the help of a thesaurus, that’s okay. Just rely on functional words within the description that imply movement and work ethic.
- Work in keywords: It’s important to keep the texts short and sweet. But, when listing previous work experience, try to work in keywords from the job in which you’re applying for. If they use the word “organized” in the listing, trying to use it in part of the description of a past position if it fits. This will help them see that you do have the experience that they’re looking for. On that same note, though, don’t over-stuff the keywords. Just pick a few and use them sparingly.
When you are listing your job experience, you’re doing more than just listing your job experience in itself. You want them to see why it matters and that you are as good for the position as you know you are. While the other parts of your resume are important and should get focus, make sure that you give the proper focus and time and effort to the work experience section too. Take a look online to find examples of resumes and read through different types until you get a true sense of what you’re looking to create. You’ll love the confidence it’ll give you and it will come through in helping you to put into action a true impactful resume that will show you off in all of the right ways.
You deserve to get the job you’re applying for, and preparing the work experience of your resume is going to be a huge part of making sure that you get the best chance at getting their attention for the right reasons.