This is How to Put Skills on a Resume (+Infographic)

You know your way around MS Excel and that’s what you say on your resume —


  • Excel

You might know this and that about Access, too —


  • Excel
  • Access

Perhaps you can hold a work-relevant conversation in Spanish. Here we go —


  • Excel
  • Access
  • Spanish

Skills section on resume? Done.

Hate to break it to you, but this is not how to put skills on a resume. And that might be why your inbox isn’t inundated with job interview invitations.

When it comes to resumes, people usually focus on their professional achievements. They might list a few additional qualifications, and they obviously put their education on their resumes. Because, well, you have to.

The truth is, however, that the skills section matters a whole lot more than you might be willing to give it credit for.

When it comes to work experience or education, choices are rather binary. If you’re applying for a job in sales, and sales is what you’ve been doing, your resume gets tagged as “relevant.”

If a certain level of education is required, it’s required. Simple as that.

But what takes your resume from “relevant” to “dream candidate.”


What recruiters pay attention to when they’re looking for the perfect candidate, is the right skill set.

A solid skill set is all the more important if you’re someone with little relevant experience — if you’re a graduate, career changer, or have been unemployed for more than half a year.

The skills section isn’t there to flesh out a short resume. And it’s more than a convenient checklist for the recruiter.

Your skills section is the perfect tool for getting Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) on your side. ATS software goes through massive numbers of resumes in search for the perfect candidate by matching the words and phrases used in resumes to a pre-defined list of requirements.

Important advice for putting skills on resumes: Don’t forget about those transferable skills like teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. Sure, these are the basic, non-technical, meat-and-potato skills that some experts believe should be left out.

However, before your resume is read by an actual human, it has to get approval from the ATS software. And these little robot minds are quite literal – if they don’t find a skill, they’ll assume you don’t possess it.

That’s why whenever you reference a skill on your resume, you’ve got to be specific. Quantify it. Describe it. If you’re a master of Microsoft Excel, tell the recruiters what you can do (e.g., Microsoft Excel – macros, pivot tables, data visualization; Spanish – intermediate; written and verbal skills sufficient for on-the-job communication.)

And here’s the crucial step: Read the job ad carefully and take note of any skills and traits mentioned. If you possess these qualities, you have to put them on your resume.

If you can do things that are relevant to the job in question, be sure to add them. But don’t stuff your resume with each and every skill you possess.

You have to tailor your resume to the employer’s needs.

Treat skills and traits listed in the job ad as keywords that have to show up in your application. Don’t just copy-paste them but rather work them into the resume in a direct but natural manner.

Still a bit confused? Check out these example resumes to figure out how to write your resume.

To make things easy, we’ve got an infographic for you. It provides step-by-step instructions on how to put skills on a resume to appease the ATS and the recruiter, and how to finally start landing job interviews!

What Skills Should You Put on a Resume to Land the Job (2)

Source: What Skills Should You Put on a Resume to Land the Job

See also How Soft Skills Can Help You Land a Job

Nathan S. Gibson is an independent worker compliance business partner who provides expertise and creative solutions to enhance workforce flexibility and maintain compliance with worker classification requirements. He helps mitigate the risks associated with the misclassification of self-employed consultants, freelancers and independent contractors.

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