Writing a Resume Skills Section: Top Skills to Include & Examples

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April 10, 2024
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min read

3 key takeaways

  • A resume Skills section breakdown, including what it is and why it's important
  • How to determine the right number of resume skills for your experience
  • The best way to build a resume Skills section with Teal’s free AI Resume Builder

There's an art to creating an impactful resume Skills section that grabs attention and helps you stand out.

TL; DR? A great Skills section should focus on specific abilities tailored to the job you're applying for. Think: technical capabilities, tools, software, or specialized training relevant to the position. This approach is more effective than listing all your skills because it demonstrates how your qualifications align with a job's requirements.

So, where do you start? And how do you simplify this process to save time and maximize impact?

Ready to build a free resume Skills section in minutes? Try Teal now!

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. Things like:

  • Python
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) copywriting
  • Notion
  • Linear

In contrast, resume soft skills are more subjective and relate to personal attributes around how you interact with others. For example:

  • Communication skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Cross-functional collaboration
A skills section on a resume
Use your resume Skill section to highlight your relevant aptitudes.

The importance of a  skills section on your resume

While you should always incorporate both types of skills in every section of your resume, a dedicated resume Skills section will help you:

  1. Clarify experience, making it easy for prospective employers to see your qualifications quickly.
  2. Optimize for ATS searches by including relevant keywords.
  3. Complement your work history with a detailed view of the skills that underpin your professional experiences and achievements.
  4. Improve readability, breaking up text with a clear, easy-to-read resume section.
  5. Highlight technical proficiency by showcasing your expertise in relevant software, tools, or methodologies.
  6. Differentiate yourself from other job seekers who have similar experiences but may not showcase their skills as effectively.

Classifying skills on a resume

Before you begin writing resume Skills sections, it's key to understand a few skill types you may have.

Why? Because a variety of skills can help differentiate you from the competition. 

Pro Tip: Use the free Teal AI Resume Builder to store all of your skills in one place. With Teal you can categorize each skill by type (and toggle them on and off or add new skills whenever you need to!).

Four types of skills for your resume 

Beyond the hard and soft skills, there are other types to consider. Remember, the goal is to present a balanced view of your experience.

Including a range of skills that align with the job description helps to show your qualifications comprehensively.

  • Soft skills
  • Hard skills
  • Transferable skills
  • Industry-specific skills
A graphic of types of skills for a resume
Include a variety of skills to show your qualifications.

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

  • Leadership skills: delegation, empathy, mentoring
  • Communication skills: conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, active listening
  • Organizational skills: time management, goal setting, attention to detail

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.) 

Hard skills examples

  • Data analysis: data visualization, forecasting, statistics
  • Social media management: TikTok, Google Analytics, community management
  • Product management: market research, technical writing, UX analysis

Industry-specific skills

Industry-specific skills are those required for a particular field. For instance, Java, Phlebotomy, and Quickbooks fall into this category. 

Examples of industry-specific skills

  • Tech software development: debugging, cloud computing, API integration\
  • Retail management: merchandise planning, sales forecasting, customer relationship management
  • Cybersecurity: threat analysis, network security, encryption techniques

Transferable skills

Transferable skills are those that can be applied across various industries and jobs. Often, they're things you learned in one specific role that prepare you for success in another position. (Think verbal communication, customer service skills, active listening, and time management.) Many transferable skills are also considered soft skills. 

Some of the most common transferable skills are business skills. Business skills encompass a wide range of valuable abilities across industries—particularly in roles that involve decision-making, strategy, and interaction with clients or stakeholders.

Transferable skills examples:

  • Leadership skills: team motivation, strategic decision-making, conflict resolution
  • Communication skills: active listening, presentation, non-verbal communication
  • Sales and negotiation skills: market analysis, client acquisition, deal closure
  • Project management skills: resource allocation, timeline management, risk assessment

How to include transferable skills on a resume

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

For example, let's say you're transitioning from growth marketing to product marketing; you could highlight an achievement like this:

Drove a 40% increase in product sign-ups by optimizing marketing funnels and leveraging data analytics, improving product engagement 3x through market understanding.

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. They're more specialized or rare and aren't commonly found in the job market.

Including unique but important 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, or a specific artistic talent, including these unique skills can increase your chances of landing an interview as long as they're relevant to the job.

How to identify what skills to put in your resume skills section

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

  • Review past roles, projects, and impact
  • Think about your hobbies and interests
  • Consider your education
  • Ask for feedback 
  • Take an online skills or personality assessment 
A graphic of Teal's Work Styles Assessment to evalute skills for a resume
Take a Work Style Assessment to gauge your strengths.

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.

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.

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 type of role you're seeking, it's best to leave them out. 

Selected skills on a resume
Incorporate only relevant skills in your resume.

Step 3: Align your skills with job descriptions

Finally, once you have a refined list of skills, save them all in one central location. (Teal's free AI Resume Builder is a great place to do this.) Then, it's time to tailor them to each role you're applying for. 

While specific skills for each job are going to vary, it can be helpful to see a few examples of how they're listed in a job description:

  • Marketing: execute marketing campaigns, increase brand awareness, generate leads
  • Software: design and maintain software applications, meet user needs
  • Data science: develop machine-learning algorithms, support strategic initiatives

To tailor your skills the right way, 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 the skills from the job description to the skill set in your resume with a Match Score tool. Match Score grades your content so you're never left guessing about how your skills stack up against a job. 

Skills examples found in a job description compared to a resume skills section with Teal's Match Score
Check your skills against a job with Teal's 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.)

How to create the skills section on a resume

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). 

  1. Choose the right skills: Select skills that are most relevant to the job you are applying for. Review the job description carefully and match your skills to the requirements outlined by the employer.
  2. Categorize your skills: Group similar skills together to make the section more organized and easier for the reader to scan. For example, you can categorize skills into software, certifications, or tools.
  3. Be specific: Instead of listing generic skills like "communication tools," list the tool name, ie. "Loom, Zoom, Slack."
  4. Use keywords from the job description: Incorporate keywords from the job description that show your skills align with what the employer is looking for.
  5. Limit the number of skills: Aim to balance showcasing a wide range of skills and keeping your list concise.

How to format skills on a resume

To build 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
  • Certifications
  • Skills
  • Optional
    – Projects
    – Awards and Scholarships
    – Volunteering and Leadership
    – Publications

If you want to create a Skills section for a functional resume (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 as your work experience.

How many skills to list on a resume

Striking the right balance between showcasing relevant skills and avoiding a lengthy list can seem tricky; Teal Director of Talent Mike Peditto says:

"While there isn't a magic number of skills, a long list can become overwhelming and take focus away from the top skills needed for a job.

Focus on the skills that appear early and often throughout the job description. Here, you'll likely find the top 5-8 skills the job is asking for, above all else."

How to describe skills on a resume

Even with a dedicated Skills section on your resume, providing concrete examples of how those skills were instrumental in your success is what makes your claims credible. 

When it comes to describing those top 5-8 skills Peditto highlights:

"These 5-8 skills are the ones you want to highlight not only in a Skills section but in other sections, too, by showing how you've used them.

Specific examples offer recruiters and hiring managers concrete proof of what you can do, which is much more effective than simply listing them in the Skills section."

Skills in a professional summary

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."

Skills in work experience

In your Work Experience section, you should write resume bullet points that highlight specific hard skills. Let's say you have skills in MySQL and performance optimization and you used them in tandem with your soft skills like team leadership. A resume bullet point could look like this:

"Led a team of 3 to implement an optimized database schema using MySQL and performance optimization, reducing query response times by 40%."

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

Example of a resume skills section

In your resume's skills section, organizing skills by type improves readability.

For example, categorize your skills into groups like "Technical Proficiency," "Communication Tools," or "Tech Stack." Under each category, use bullets or list relevant skills.

This layout not only highlights your strengths in a structured manner but also allows recruiters to identify your key competencies in specific areas quickly.

A resume Skills section
Categorize your skills in a resume Skills section to make them clear.

Resume Skills section best practices

Now that you know how to create a resume Skills section, here are some best practices for getting it right every time.

  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. 

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, like 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.

Create your Skills section with Teal

Strategically writing a resume Skills section with a variety of abilities is vital to your job search.

Incorporating a mix throughout your resume and in a dedicated Skills section will give a prospective employer a clear and holistic view of your qualifications. 

But creating this section doesn’t have to be time-consuming. 

With the free Teal AI Resume Builder, you can save all of your skills and 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.) 

Then, leverage tools like Job Description Keywords and Match Score to see how your entire resume compares to the language of the job description!

Sign up for Teal for free today to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best skills to put on a resume?

The best skills to include on a resume are those specific to the job you're applying for, including both hard and soft skills that align with the job description. Focus on skills that demonstrate your qualifications for the position.

Want to find the top skills for any job? Try Teal's Job Description Keyword Finder.

How can I describe my skills on a resume?

Describe your skills on a resume by giving concrete examples of how you've applied them in past roles or projects, showcasing the impact and value they brought to your work.

How many skills should I list on my resume?

There isn't a definitive number of skills to list on a resume, but it's recommended to focus on the top 5-8 skills that are most relevant and frequently mentioned in the job description to avoid overwhelming the reader.

What skills should I not put on my resume?

Avoid listing skills on your resume that are irrelevant to the job you're applying for or that don't contribute to the type of role you're seeking. Keep your skills list focused and relevant to the job.

Do employers want to see soft skills on a resume?

Yes, employers value soft skills on a resume, as they show how you interact and work with others. Include a mix of hard and soft skills along side metrics and impact to present a balanced view of your capabilities in relation to the role.

If you need help identifying which soft skills to include, Teal's Job Description Keyword Finder can help you tailor the right soft skills for every role.

Kayte Grady

Kayte, Senior Copywriter at Teal and Champion of ADHD professionals, is a seasoned writer passionate about storytelling and career growth. With a data-driven approach to content marketing and a word-nerd knack for resume builder analysis, Kayte’s on a mission to empower job seekers to land a job they love. Constantly pivoting and reinventing herself, this social-worker-turned-marketer found growth and camaraderie in tech—a genuine surprise given her never-ending devotion to the paper calendar.

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