The Best Job Skills To Make Your Resume Stand Out

By Indeed Editorial Team

February 18, 2021

Employers use the work skills section in a resume to broadly examine your areas of strength. Skills can entail a variety of acquired or natural abilities. While the experience section of your resume displays the impact you have made throughout your career, the skills section explains how you made that impact. For example, your past efforts in successfully leading a team of 10 engineers are a result of your skills in technical management and team building.

In this article, we discuss how to display your strongest skills on your resume with example skill categories, resume formatting and development tips.

Hard vs. soft skills

Many people separate skills into two categories: soft and hard. Most employers expect applicants to possess a mix of both, so it is important to understand your areas of strength in each category.

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

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Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Hard Skills

  1. Bilingual or multilingual

  2. Database management

  3. Adobe software suite

  4. Network security

  5. SEO/SEM marketing

  6. Statistical analysis

  7. Data mining

  8. Mobile development

  9. User interface design

  10. Marketing campaign management

  11. Storage systems and management

  12. Programming languages (such as Perl, Python, Java and Ruby)

Hard skills are technical knowledge or training that you have gained through any life experience, including in your career or education.

Soft Skills

  1. Integrity

  2. Dependability

  3. Effective communication

  4. Teamwork

  5. Creativity

  6. Problem-solving

  7. Critical thinking

  8. Adaptability

  9. Organization

  10. Willingness to learn

  11. Empathy

Soft skills are personal habits and traits that shape how you work, on your own and with others.

Hard skills, also called “technical skills” are learned, measurable and often specific to a job or task. For example, coding, foreign language proficiency and machine operation are all hard skills.

While also somewhat teachable, soft skills primarily relate to one’s personal qualities and characteristics. Soft skills are transferable, equipping you to succeed in any workplace. For example, leadership, time management and creativity are soft skills.

There are a few skills that many employers expect candidates to have. These skills can be left off of your resume. A few examples of expected skills include proficiency with word processors, spreadsheets, reading and basic math.

Read more: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Categories of skills

General skills are important if you need to be flexible when applying to a different position or changing industries. This is also especially true for recent graduates or other people newly entering the workforce. However, developing skills specific to a position or an industry can help you qualify for mid- or high-level positions. Here are some examples of specific skill categories.

Administrative, business and finance

Administrative, business and finance skills help keep operations running efficiently. These skills include:

  • Clerical

  • Accounting

  • Administration

  • Finance

  • Negotiation

  • QuickBooks

Read more: Administrative Skills: Definition and Examples for Your Career

Communication and interpersonal

Communication is vital for growth in your career. Employers tend to seek out applicants with strong communication skills for a wide array of positions and industries. These skills include:

  • Collaboration

  • Copywriting and copyediting

  • Presentation media (Powerpoint, etc.)

  • Public speaking

  • Speechwriting

  • Social media fluency

Read more: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Leadership and management

Leadership and management skills are necessary in many contexts. Even if you aren’t interested in management, these skills can help propel you toward success, especially when working in group contexts. These skills include:

  • Delegation

  • Motivation

  • Negotiation

  • Strategic planning

  • System administration

  • Conflict management

Read more: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

Sales and marketing

Sales roles do require plenty of communication skills, however, some positions benefit from technical skills as well. Most great salespeople or marketers have a mix of both. These skills include:

  • Digital marketing

  • Active listening

  • Inventory software

  • Customer service


Most businesses use a variety of technological tools in daily operations, so even people in non-technical positions can benefit from some technical skills. These skills include:

  • Database management

  • Product design

  • Quantitative research

  • Statistical analysis

  • Coding

Read more: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

Tailoring your resume with keywords

Large companies often use automated systems to select applicants for interviews. These systems analyze a variety of factors, including skill and experience “keywords.” By tailoring your skills with information in the job posting, you can increase the likelihood of passing this automated pre-selection process.

Make a list of your skills and compare them with the required skills listed in the job posting. Include the skills you have on your resume as well as relevant abilities you think would set you apart from other applicants. Aim to be specific about your abilities and skill level. For example, rather than listing “Computer Skills,” consider specifying that you have “Advanced proficiency in CSS and Javascript.”

How to format skills on your resume

Once you decide on the skills for your resume, it’s important to properly format them:

1. Place your skills section in the right location

The format of your resume will determine the location of your skills section. For example, if you have selected a functional resume because you have a gap in your employment or are changing careers, you should place your skills section near the top of your resume.

Functional Resume Format

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Functional Resume Format

  1. Name and contact information

  2. Summary

  3. Skills grouped by theme

  4. Any relevant professional experience

  5. Education

If you have extensive professional experience on a chronological resume, you should place your skills section under the work history section.

2. Show how you’ve demonstrated skills in your experience section

For example, a retail manager might say he “Increased credit card sales 20% by implementing a rewards program for top-performing employees.” This demonstrates initiative, creativity and problem-solving skills.

3. Integrate key skills into your achievements section

For example, you may exemplify your leadership abilities by discussing your role in pioneering a successful team project.

Ways to develop your job skills

You might notice there are skills listed on the job description that you do not yet have. There are many ways to develop skills over the course of your career. For example, you can gain skills through:


A mentor can give you career advice and may allow you to shadow them on the job. Through your interactions, you can learn what skills are necessary to succeed in your position or industry.

Online and offline resources

A variety of online resources exist to help you develop skills. Large universities, online classes and other programs offer programs for professionals.

On-the-job training

Many employers are interested in facilitating their professional growth. Consider asking your colleagues about helpful courses or speaking to your manager about your interest in developing a certain skill.

It is worth noting that many people acquire skills informally through time and experience on the job. If you are interested in developing a certain skill set, consider researching about advancement in your industry and popular tools for success. With the correct identification, development and display of skills, you can help potential employers understand the value you have to offer.

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