Certain jobs call for specific hard skills. If these are not clearly laid out in a resume, the applicant can be ejected from the candidate pool in the first round of screening by an applicant tracking system (ATS). How do you decide what hard skills to include in a resume, how to list them, and what to emphasize?
This article covers all that and more for your job search. It explains what hard skills are vs. soft skills, gives examples of hard skills for various job types, and shows how to present core competencies and skills on different types of resume templates.
Your hard skills will depend on your industry and role. They are typically the skills learned through education or training, including college, apprenticeships, short-term training classes, online courses, and certification programs. Examples of certification programs are Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or registered nurse certification.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are skills acquired through work experience, such as management skills, communication skills, people skills, interpersonal skills, time management, leadership skills, teamwork, problem-solving, and negotiation.
Both hard and soft skill sets are important, but it is worthwhile selecting the right types of skills to accentuate on a resume to targeted the new job.
For example, a hiring manager looking for an expert coder is more concerned with a candidate's computer language skills and know-how than their ability to negotiate. So, a candidate for this type of job need not clutter their resume with too many soft skills that could detract from the more relevant hard skills.
For more details on hard and soft skills, read “What's the Difference Between Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills?”
According to Indeed, here are 15 of the most in-demand hard and five of the most in-demand soft skills as of the job market in 2021.
Mobile app development
How do you decide what specific skills to include in your resume and job application? First of all, you should tailor your resume for each job. That means that you should take your cues from the job description as to what skills to include on your resume.
Match your skills list with the skills listed on the job description and sprinkle some of the keyword skills throughout your resume so that they are recognized by applicant ATS. For example, if the job description lists web analytics on the job description, be sure to include the phrase “web analysis,” “web analytics,” or something similar on your resume.
For more details on how to construct an ATS-friendly resume, read “How to Make Your Resume ATS-Friendly”
To go the extra mile, try to find someone already in the company in a similar role to talk to. You can either search the company on LinkedIn to find a contact, or ask an HR representative to recommend someone.
If you find a contact, ask them what skills the company really wants to see. You’ll have inside information that might put you ahead of the competition because you can highlight those skills in your resume and in your cover letter.
The following are examples of hard skills that apply to the IT data industry, accounting, marketing, design, and web development.
Here are examples of hard skills to include on a resume for a data analyst.
Here are examples of hard skills to include on a resume for an accounting position.
Microsoft Visual Basic
IBM Cognos Analytics
QuickBooks and other accounting software
Big data analysis
Here are examples of hard skills to include on a resume for a marketing position.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine marketing (SEM)
Content management systems
Email marketing skills
Social media marketing
Microsoft office and Powerpoint
Here are examples of hard design skills to include on a resume.
User experience (UX) design
Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator)
Digital graphic design software
Here are examples of hard skills to include on a resume for a web development position.
iOS and Android app development
Graphic user interfaces (GUI)
Application programming interface (API)
CCS and HTML
Software revision control systems
Development and web architecture frameworks
There are three resume formats that job seekers can use: Chronological, functional, and hybrid. For jobs that are highly technical, like coding or software engineering, a functional or hybrid resume is best because it is structured specifically to highlight relevant skills.
In contrast, a chronological resume draws attention to your work history in the experience section rather than your core competencies. A chronological resume is better if you want to emphasize progression in responsibilities in a certain industry. A hybrid resume includes both your skills and a chronological listing of your past positions.
Below are examples of a functional resume vs. a chronological resume.
Example of a Functional Resume
Example of a Chronological Resume
Both types of resume have a separate skills section and a section with bullet points to describe your achievements. The reader's eye is attracted to the separate skills section. The bullet points show measurable criteria, such as percentages or monetary amounts, to support your achievements. For example,
Implemented reporting in Tableau to identify opportunities for cost savings, resulting in $180,000 annual additional revenue.
Include only those technical skills that are relevant to the job. Otherwise, your resume could seem cluttered. Try to make good use of white space.
Your cover letter is the place to reinforce two or three skills that are most important to the job. In your cover letter, write a sentence or two that describes how you have applied those skills and what the results were.
For details on cover letters, read “How to Write a Cover Letter”
Here’s a rundown of what you should not do when you are adding job skills and core competencies to your resume.
Don’t add skills you don’t have – recruiters are likely to check your background or even to test your hard skills as part of the hiring process.
Don’t leave out measurables – your achievements will be that much more impactful if you add a measurable achievement, such as increasing sales by a certain percent or increasing revenues by a dollar amount.
Don’t be wordy – Use short sentences, and limit each bullet point to two or three sentences.
The secret to a great resume is aligning your core competencies and skills with the needs of the employer. You can do that by doing your research and presenting the job-specific skills employers need to see in a clear and appealing way in your resume and cover letter.