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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:

  1. Problem-solving and thinking on your feet:
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Communication and flexibility:
  4. Attention to detail:
  5. Time management:
  6. Leadership:
  7. Teamwork:
  8. Empathy:
  9. Integrity and honesty:
  10. 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:

  1. Data analysis:
  2. Computer skills:
  3. Experience with Adobe programs:
  4. Retail experience
  5. Public speaking experience:
  6. SEO experience:
  7. Web and graphic design:
  8. Project management:
  9. Writing skills:
  10. 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.


If you’re ready to use all of this to put the best version of your resume together as possible, allow our resume builder to help you do just that.  Available online with a series of templates right there for you to choose from, you can craft the professional, detailed and properly formatted resume that you need to make the right first impression that you are going for with the recruiter that gets your resume.  Not only will it do wonders at showing off your skills and experience, but it will also look the part of professionalism, too.   When you’re on the job hunt, that’s critical.

Published by Sarah Samson

Sarah Samson is a professional career advisor and resume expert. She specializes in helping recent college graduates and mid-career professionals improve their resumes and format them for the modern job market. In addition, she has also been a contributor to several online publications.