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Key Skills for a Resume – [The Complete Guide]

Last updated:
7th Oct, 2021
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Key Skills for a Resume – [The Complete Guide]

Your resume decides whether or not you’re qualified for a job. It is the first impression you make on a potential employer. Most of us have one resume ready to be sent to various job openings. However, not all of us get a callback. You can’t help but wonder, what qualities and key skills make a resume attractive and worthy of an interview call back? What skills must be reflected in your CV? 

If you are baffled by these questions, you’ve landed at the right place! Today, we’ll explore some of the critical skills that can spice up your resume and help you bag your dream job. 

Why do recruiters emphasise specific skills?

In a recent survey, more than 70% of HR managers voiced concern about potential candidates’ lack of skills for most current job positions. However, what exactly are these ‘skills’ in their assertion?

In simple terms, natural abilities in the expertise obtained to accomplish a job or a specific task are known as skills. There are a variety of life skills that can assist us in dealing with difficult situations. Then there are professional skills that allow us to perform our work duties. There are many distinct types of skills, such as hard skills, soft skills, domain-general skills, domain-specific skills, etc. 

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It’s no secret that most HR managers prefer a rapid approach when it comes to shortlisting resumes. They don’t have time to read every word on your resume. As a result, your CV must be able to impress them at first sight. It should feature a well-balanced mix of soft and hard skills. It should have the appropriate keywords and jargon to make it the most reasonable out of the applicant pool. 

The key difference between soft skills and hard skills:

Hard skills refer to those abilities that you acquire through education, formal training or job exposure. They are specific to different job types and are measurable through regular assessments. For example, if you work in the customer service department, some hard skills you’ll require are data entry, product information, customer handling, ability to use platforms like Zendesk, etc. On your CV, the set of hard skills reflect what you can do to suit a specific job description. 

On the other hand, Soft skills indicate how diligently you’ll perform the given duties and how reliable you could be as an employee. Some common soft skills include leadership skills, communication skills, problem-solving abilities, team spirit, etc.

When building a resume, it is crucial to create a perfect balance of hard and soft skills. For instance, if you list out only your hard skills, it will quantify your job-specific abilities without highlighting the aspects that make you a good fit for the company’s work environment. Similarly, if you only highlight your soft skills, recruiters will not know about the role-related skills.

What are the essential skills you can include in your CV?

While hard skills are typically specific to a role, some general skills apply to most industry roles. Here are a few skills that can make your resume impressive:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Public speaking ability
  • Team building and handling skills
  • Customer handling skills
  • Communication skills
  • Accounting
  • Collaborating skills
  • Active listening skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Negotiating skills
  • Conflict resolution abilities
  • Quick decision-making skills
  • Management efficiency
  • Organising and planning skills
  • Knowledge of different languages
  • Impressive administrative skills

Typical skills for some of the most common jobs

Here are the examples of the top skills you must have as per the job post you seek: 

1. Office and Administrative Jobs

  • Answering phone calls
  • Data entry
  • Billing skills
  • Microsoft office efficiency
  • Scheduling
  • Ability to handle office equipment
  • Sales and shipping skills
  • Front desk experience
  • Calendar management skills

2. Nursing and Healthcare

  • Patient assessment skills
  • General nursing skills
  • Skills regarding patient aftercare 
  • Taking vital signs
  • Dressing and care of wounds
  • Recording the patient’s medical history
  • Emergency care and response
  • Patient education
  • Record-keeping skills
  • EMR and EHR skills
  • Blood pressure checking skills
  • Medicine administration
  • Hygiene assistance
  • Rehabilitation therapy skills
  • Ability to use radiology machines and tools
  • Diabetes management skills

3. Engineering & Technical Jobs

  • CAD
  • STEM knowledge
  • Design & prototyping
  • Troubleshooting
  • Lean manufacturing 
  • Project launch
  • Workflow development skills
  • Budgeting
  • Computer skills
  • Technical writing skills

4. IT Jobs

  • Web development
  • Programming/coding languages
  • Data structures
  • Java script
  • Open source experiences
  • Security
  • Debugging
  • Machine learning
  • AI compatibility
  • Front & Back-End support and development

5. Advertising and Marketing:

  • SEO/SEM skills
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Social media advertising
  • CMS tools
  • Sales management
  • Graphic designing
  • Email automation
  • Typing skills
  • Data visualisation 
  • Photography skills 
  • Creative branding skills

6. Sales, Retail, and Customer Service Jobs:

  • Lead qualification
  • Product knowledge
  • Lead prospecting
  • Referral marketing
  • Customer behaviour analysis
  • Self-motivation
  • Contract negotiations 

How to create a resume skills section and match the skills to the prospective job description?

While creating your resume, the most important thing is to create a systematic log of your clear and concise skills to read. You can make a three or four-column table at the beginning of your CV, just before enlisting your professional experiences. Then, mention the most relevant soft and hard skills that are your strengths and directly speak to the employer’s eligibility criteria. This is where you must include all the keywords you have identified through the job posting.

Most firms and organisations now use an applicant tracking system or ATS to narrow down applicant pools and shortlist the most suitable candidates. ATS collects resumes and filters out the most relevant ones for a job profile. As a result, if your resume is tailored to the job posting and includes keywords and phrases that exactly fit the job description, you’re ready to go! 

The first step to creating a well-rounded skills section is to understand the job role you’re applying for clearly. Once you understand the role, you can identify the most befitting skills for this position and customise them accordingly. Make sure to list only the most relevant skills for the job profile in bullet format. This makes it easier for recruiters to browse through and understand your abilities.

Creating a resume: Dos and don’ts 

Here is a list of all things that you should be mindful of while curating your resume:

1. Don’t lie or exaggerate about your capabilities/qualifications

This is a quintessential step to follow. Refrain from inflating the information that you enter in your resume. Instead, ensure that you put up your genuine skill sets and enlist the degrees/certificates you hold. Fluff and exaggerations in a resume are the biggest turn-offs for employers.

2. Do mention figures that substantiate your skills. 

It is crucial to corroborate whatever skills you claim to have. If possible, specially mention the numbers showing your skills. For example, if you helped a company achieve the desired sales target or helped them earn a specific amount of revenue, you can mention these accomplishments. Suppose you happened to fetch x no. Of clients for a previous employer, highlight that in your CV.

3. Don’t beat around the bush

Make sure that your resume isn’t too wordy or redundant. Use the most appropriate words for describing things, and don’t over-explain. Keep it crisp, precise, and to the point. 

4. Do proofread your resume 

Please review it carefully before sending in your resume. Check for grammar, spelling, and formatting errors. You can also get it checked by a professional proofreader. Going over a printed copy is a good idea as sometimes it’s easier to spot errors on paper than on a screen.

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The kind of skills that one puts on their resume can differ based on career, education, background, expertise etc. For example, the critical skills required for a digital marketing executive post will differ from those of a sales representative in a bank. Therefore, before applying to your preferred job, you must take time and review all the skills that the employer seeks. 

You must tailor your resume and put up the skills most valuable to the prospective employer. The main aim of the skills section of your resume is to portray to the hiring team that you’re one of the best candidates for the post and will contribute to bringing substantial value to their business/organisation.



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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Q. How to build a good resume?

The key to building a good resume is being precise and concise. Recruiters look for applicants who can present themselves well through their resume and attract their attention. When writing your resume, use clear and simple language. First, pick a format and then put in your basic information. Add to it your work experiences, volunteering work, your soft skills, and co-curricular achievements, and tailor it according to the job you are applying for. It is better not to use overworked jargons as they reduce the credibility of your resume. Once you are done, go through it again and refine where required.

2Q. Are soft skills important for jobs?

Yes, soft skills are always encouraged and even prioritised by some recruiters. Having soft skills boosts your resume and lets the recruiters know that you would be an asset to their organisation. Some of the most important and basic soft skills are communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem-solving, and creativity. These skills are not learned through some strict academic curriculum, but are often character traits. These soft skills help you get noticed at your workplace and prove that you are a good fit for the company or organisation.

3Q. What are some of the best sites for resume building?

Building a good resume is essential to landing a well-paying and desirable job. Taking professional help to upgrade or make your resume is always a good idea because those in the profession of resume-building and career counselling are experts at making your resume noticeable and impressive. Some websites that are good for this purpose are Canva Resume Builder, LiveCareer, Resume Genius, Indeed Resume Builder, and Resume Companion. You can explore these and choose the one that suits you best. Never compromise while developing your resume because that is the first impression a recruiter will register of you, determining whether or not your application moves ahead.

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