Your Resume Skills Section: Why You Need One & How to Nail it

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July 28, 2023
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19
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There's an art to creating an impactful resume "Skills" section that grabs attention and helps you stand out in today's job market.

Here's the thing, crafting a well-curated "Skills" section (one with a variety of skills you've tailored to align with the specific requirements of each role you're applying for) is more effective than listing all your capabilities. And this strategic approach will help you showcase your relevant abilities confidently—bringing you that much closer to securing an interview.

So where do you start? And how do you streamline this process in a way that saves time and maximizes impact and efficiency?

3 key takeaways

  • A "Skills" section resume breakdown
  • The right number of resume skills to include
  • How to create a resume “Skills” section using Teal’s free AI Resume Builder

Anatomy of a resume "Skills" section

The “Skills” section of your resume is a dedicated place to list soft and hard skills relevant to the role you're applying for. 

Hard skills refer to specific technical skills or measurable abilities learned through on-the-job experience or education. (These are aptitudes like programming languages and search engine optimization (SEO) copywriting.) In contrast, resume soft skills are more subjective and relate to personal attributes that enhance how you interact with others. (For example, communication skills, organizational skills, and cross-functional collaboration.) 

And while you should always incorporate both types of skills (and a few others) in every section of your resume, a dedicated resume "Skills" section quickly showcases a prospective employer, hiring manager, or recruiter your applicable qualifications.

Think of a "Skills" section as a snapshot of your overall strengths, allowing hiring managers to assess your fit for the role without reading an entire resume in detail.

Client Success Manager "Skills" section example

Classifying skills on a resume

Before you get into how to write your resume's "Skills" section, it's important to get a good understanding of a few skill types you may have.

Why?

Because to create a comprehensive resume, a variety of skills can help differentiate you from the competition. 

(Note: The majority of the time, you'll hear about "hard" and "soft" skills, but there are a few additional types you may have heard of, too. Some skill varieties and titles overlap and fall into multiple categories. Generally, the idea of a "Skills" section and including skills on your resume is to incorporate a mixture of your top skills that grabs attention and represents you as a well-rounded candidate.) 

Four types of skills for your resume 

Transferable skills

Versatile skills you can apply across various industries and job roles, like verbal communication, active listening, and time management. (Many transferable skills are also soft skills.) 

Industry-specific skills

Also known as technical skills, these are job-specific competencies required for a particular field. For instance, Java, Phlebotomy, and Quickbooks fall into this category. 

Hard skills

Hard skills on a resume are quantifiable and teachable abilities you've gained through formal education, training, or certifications. (Things like data analysis, social media marketing, proficiency in a foreign language, or computer programming.) 

Soft skills

Soft skills are also called interpersonal skills or people skills. These non-technical abilities relate to how you interact with others and approach work. (Interpersonal skills examples: Adaptability, leadership, empathy, emotional intelligence, verbal communication, time management, problem-solving, etc.)

Unique skills for your resume

In addition to the four primary types of skills, there are also unique skills. 

Unique skills are even more distinctive. These skills are more specialized or rare and aren't commonly found in the job market. Including unique skills on your resume can have a significant impact (if they're relevant to the role) because they capture the attention of hiring managers—making you a more memorable candidate.

Whether it's expertise in a niche technology, a rare language proficiency, or a specific artistic talent, including these unique skills can increase your chances of landing an interview.

Business skills for your resume

Finally, business resume skills encompass a wide range of valuable abilities across many industries—particularly in roles that involve decision-making, strategy, and interaction with clients or stakeholders. (Hello, senior-level roles!) 

Some key business skills include:

Leadership skills

Listing leadership skills on a resume is essential for management positions. Leadership skills demonstrate your ability to guide and motivate teams, foster a positive work culture, and achieve organizational goals.

Communication skills

Effective communication is critical in any role, as it ensures a clear exchange of ideas, instructions, and information within the team and externally with clients or customers.

Sales and negotiation skills

Crucial for sales and business development roles, these skills demonstrate your ability to close deals, build relationships, and maximize opportunities.

Project management skills

This skill showcases your ability to plan, execute, and complete projects successfully, making you an asset in various project-oriented roles.

Financial acumen

Understanding financial concepts is vital for roles in finance, accounting, and management, as it allows you to make informed decisions based on financial data.

Problem-solving skills

A highly sought-after skill, problem-solving demonstrates your ability to identify issues and devise practical solutions, which is valuable in any work environment.

How to include business skills on a resume

Once you clearly understand which business skills align with your experience, you can incorporate them by showcasing how you used them to create impact.

For example, "Led a team of 10+ marketers to achieve a 150% increase in customer acquisition within six months through the implementation of personalized content based on user behavior and data analysis."

Identifying the right skills for your resume

Determining which skills to include on your resume can be challenging because even with minimal work experience, you've gained a diverse range of skills across different areas. 

Knowing how to choose the best skills for your resume comes down to 3 basic steps. 

Step 1: Brainstorm your skill set 

Before you refine your resume skills, you should identify all the skills you've gained over your professional journey. (Or, if you're a recent graduate, during your academic experience.)  

  • eview past roles, projects, and impact
  • Think about your hobbies and interests
  • Consider your education
  • Ask for feedback 
  • Take an online skills or personality assessment 

(Pro Tip: Uncover what skills you actually like to use and where your strengths are by taking Teal's Work Style Assessment, a free career personality quiz, to discover what energizes and drains you.) 

Creating your resume skills section

Step 2: Eliminate irrelevant skills

Once you've brainstormed your skills, the next step is to carefully evaluate and eliminate any skills irrelevant to the job or industry you want—showcasing only your most pertinent qualifications. While some skills (like your ability to fly a drone or your deep knowledge of the coonhound psyche) might be impressive, if they don't directly contribute to the specific type of role you're seeking, it's best to leave them out. 

Step 3: Align your skills with job descriptions

Finally, once you have a refined list of hard and soft skills, save them all in one central location. (Teal's free AI Resume Builder is a great place to do this, and you can pick and choose which skills to put on each tailored resume.)

A resume skills section
Save all of your resume skills in one central location.

Then, it's time to tailor them to each role you're applying for.  

To do this, you’re going to have to:

  1. Examine the job description of the position you're interested in. What are the top skills the hiring manager or recruiter is looking for? Organization skills? Airtable? Miro? Written communication skills? Critical thinking skills?
  2. Look for important keywords and phrases. (For example, words like Python, writing skills, critical thinking, analytical skills, data analysis, problem-solving, adaptability, SEO, etc.)
  3. Compare these keywords with the key skills you've identified, and make sure you incorporate them throughout each section to demonstrate impact (how you used them) and in your dedicated "Skills" section. (And you’re going to do this for every application!) 

The Teal AI Resume Builder compares desired skills from the job description to the skill set in your resume. It has an analysis mode that grades your resume and provides a Match Score. 

You want your Resume Score to be as close to 80% as possible. (You can incorporate more skills and keywords from a job description into your content to improve your score.)

Match your skills section to any job description

Optimizing your resume "Skills" section

Now that you understand how to identify your relevant skills let's get into how to write a resume "Skills" section with some best practices and tips for layout, formatting, and how many skills to list on a resume (like, actually). 

Resume "Skills" section best practices

  1. Relevance is key: Ensure that the hard and soft skills you include are directly relevant to the job you are applying for. 
  2. Be specific and honest: Only provide accurate information about your key skills and avoid exaggeration. 
  3. Use keywords: Incorporate relevant keywords from the job description in your "Skills" section and other resume sections. 

Resume "Skills" section format

To create a dedicated "Skills" section for a chronological resume, you should incorporate it near the bottom. (A chronological resume format presents your work experience in reverse chronological order—listing your work history, starting with your most recent position and moving backward.) Your resume sections should look something like this: 

  • Contact Information
  • Target Title
  • Professional Summary
  • Work Experience 
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Interests (if applicable)

If you want to create a "Skills" section for a functional resume (this resume format is only recommended if you're transitioning careers or industries or if you've been out of the workforce for some time), incorporate your "Skills" section after your "Professional Summary" section.   

How many skills to list on a resume

Striking the right balance between showcasing relevant skills and avoiding an excessively lengthy list can seem tricky; Teal Recruiter Leah Dillion says:

"I don't know if there's a correct numerical answer…more than twenty feels like a long list of skills. But if you're going to utilize a "Skills" section, they should always be relevant to the role you're applying for—otherwise, it's just a long list of words."

Showcasing skills in action

Even with a dedicated "Skills" section on your resume, providing concrete examples of how those skills were instrumental in your success is crucial for credibility. 

For example, in your professional summary, you could highlight your communication skills in combination with your hard project management skills by saying something like, "As a highly motivated and results-oriented marketing generalist, I have a proven track record in project management, delivering a 20% increase in team productivity through effective communication strategies and streamlined task allocation."

In your "Work Experience" section, you could write an achievement such as "Led a team of 3 to implement an optimized database schema using MySQL and performance optimization, reducing query response times by 40%." to highlight your hard skills in MySQL and performance optimization and how you used them in tandem with your soft skills like team leadership. 

In either situation, use strong action verbs on your resume to convey a sense of movement and impact.

Your resume “Skills” section and honesty

Even though you want to list skills that are relevant and align with a job description as closely as possible, sometimes, you might fall short. And that's okay.

Here's the thing: you only want to apply for roles where you meet at least 70% of the qualifications. Why? Because you want to be capable, competent, and successful in the position you land. 

Exaggerating or lying about skills on your resume can have severe consequences.

For example, recruiters and hiring managers may verify your skills during the hiring process, and being dishonest can lead to being disqualified from consideration. Or, if you claim to have skills you don't, you may find yourself in a position where you can't perform. This could lead to negative evaluations, job loss, or damage to your professional reputation.

Leveraging Teal’s AI Resume Builder for your "Skills" section 

Creating your resume's “Skills” section doesn’t have to be time-consuming. 

With the free Teal AI Resume Builder, you can save all of your skills, then add and remove specific ones based on the role you’re applying for. (You can also move your “Skills” section to any position in your resume with a drag-and-drop editor.) 

Step 1: Sign up for a free Teal account if you haven't yet, or log in to your account.

Step 2: Click the "Resume Builder" icon in the left navigation panel. From here, you can choose an existing resume or click the "New Resume" button at the top right.

Step 3: Scroll to Skills, click the drop-down button, then "Add Skills." Here you can list your skills. 

Step 4: Add and organize all your skills by typing them into the space provided. 

Elevate your resume "Skills" section

Strategically crafting your resume "Skills" section with a variety of abilities is vital to your job search. Incorporating a mix of skills throughout your entire resume and in a dedicated "Skills" section will grab a prospective employer's attention with a clear and holistic view of your qualifications. 

Leverage Teal's free AI Resume Builder to significantly streamline the process of adding and removing skills for every role you apply to. (And try the Analysis Mode to check your Match Score and see how your entire resume stacks up next to the job description!)

Sign up for Teal for free today to get started.

Frequenty Asked Questions

Kayte Grady

Kayte, the Senior Copywriter at Teal, creates compelling content that builds connection, trust, and brand loyalty to drive conversions. With a data-driven approach to writing and a love of people, she's found growth and camaraderie in tech—a pleasant surprise given her never-ending devotion to the paper calendar.

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