11 Key Skills for Your Resume That Can Help You Get Employed

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 14, 2022

Published July 13, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When candidates include the skills employers value most on their resumes, their applications have a better chance of receiving the attention of hiring managers. While many jobs require specialized abilities, companies also search for candidates with key skills that are transferable and applicable to many industries and career paths. Learning about essential skills for your resume may help if you're searching for a new job or want to continue developing in your current position.

In this article, we define key skills, discuss the benefits of including them on your resume and list several you might want to highlight when applying for a new job.

What are key skills?

Key skills are a candidate's core abilities that are the foundation for other, more specialized skills. They include both soft and hard skills that are broadly transferable and important to most professional pursuits. For instance, a biologist might use key skills related to computers, communication and teamwork to complete specific research in their field. Companies value key skills that show a wide range of professional and effective habits because they help hiring managers identify candidates who may work well with their teams.

Benefits of including key skills on your resume

Including key skills on your resume benefits your job search in several ways, including:

More interview opportunities

After sending out your resume to employers, you may receive an invitation for an interview. Before meeting you, employers rely on your resume to determine if you're a compelling candidate they'd like to hire for their job opening. When you include key skills on your resume, employers can appreciate which strengths you have and envision how you approach your responsibilities. For instance, a school district hiring a teacher may scan resumes for any mention of teamwork skills because people who collaborate in a group setting are often effective educators.

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Better applicant tracking system results

Employers who receive large amounts of applications often depend on an applicant tracking system (ATS) to find resumes that fit the job opening best. Primarily, these systems search resumes for keywords that employers specify in advance. These keywords often include key skills that employers consider requirements for success, such as communication or leadership skills. You can include a thoughtful selection of key skills on your resume that represent you and apply to the work you'd do for an employer to improve your resume's chances of attracting the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager.

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Improved first impressions

When interviewing candidates, hiring managers often use the contents of resumes to structure their conversations. Therefore, the key skills you choose to highlight often become the basis of the questions a hiring manager asks you in your interview. If you prepare concrete examples of how you apply your key skills, you can give employers confidence that your resume is an accurate description of how you conduct yourself professionally. As a result, you can create a positive first impression that shows you have a good work ethic and that you're self-aware and honest.

11 key skills to include on your resume

Here's a list of key skills employers often look for on resumes:

1. Communication skills

Communication skills include written, verbal and nonverbal abilities that professionals use to work with colleagues, clients and other businesses. They describe a candidate's ability to receive information through active listening and interpretation and respond meaningfully. Employers often need employees who can perform communicative functions, such as public speaking, drafting documents or distributing information among multiple parties. Communication skills such as positive body language are also important in some work settings, especially for employees who work directly with clients, customers or patients.

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2. Creative skills

Professionals use creative skills to approach challenges in new and innovative ways, applying their imagination and ability to incorporate different perspectives. Some fields require technical creative skills, such as design- and art-based professions, where people develop expertise with a craft and its specific principles. Other professions require soft creative skills, including the ability to envision goals, find inventive solutions and combine different points of view. Creative skills are also key to innovation, enabling companies to develop new goods and services that anticipate consumers' needs.

3. Computer skills

Computer skills involve the ability to navigate common programs and applications that businesses use to manage operations. While many jobs require specialized computer skills—such as coding, website design or image and video editing—most employers seek candidates who can use word processors, spreadsheets and different devices effectively. Computer skills can also empower you to conduct online research, handle digital information responsibly and collaborate with colleagues remotely.

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4. Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are the methods and resources you use to study and overcome challenges. They help you understand the cause of an issue and generate potential solutions. Problem-solving skills include troubleshooting, critical thinking, deductive reasoning and experimenting. Employers look for talented problem-solvers because they can handle challenges independently and share what they learn with coworkers. Depending on the job, employers might prioritize technical problem-solving skills that are the product of academic and work experience, or they might look for soft problem-solving skills that come from highly developed interpersonal skills.

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5. Teamwork skills

Teamwork skills support productive and positive collaboration in the workplace. A business with multiple employees often requires teamwork to reach its full potential and overcome routine obstacles. Candidates with effective teamwork skills know how to share responsibility, actively listen to colleagues, take responsibility for their work and share their opinions respectfully. They typically value their coworkers' insights and understand how to ask for and offer help.

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6. Leadership skills

Leadership skills enable you to set an example for other members of your organization. While these skills are important for professionals like managers, supervisors and executives, anyone can develop the skills of a leader. Leadership skills include motivating others, performing consistently, showing determination and providing mentorship. Employers look for candidates with leadership skills because they usually commit themselves to their work while also supporting the overall efforts of their team. Rather than becoming competitive, people with leadership skills often view success as a shared project that depends on every team member helping one another.

7. Organizational skills

Organizational skills are the talents an employee has for managing resources effectively. Employees can apply organizational skills to their own workflows by managing their time wisely, planning their schedules and minimizing waste. Professionals in leadership positions apply organizational skills while managing others, delegating effectively, distributing resources and guiding projects. Companies often seek employees with keen organizational skills to help them operate efficiently, accomplish high-quality work on time and meet budget requirements.

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8. Quantitative reasoning skills

Quantitative reasoning skills are abilities that involve numerical analysis and mathematics. Any professional who interprets figures, whether related to inventories, dollars or statistics, relies on quantitative reasoning skills to draw meaningful conclusions from raw data. Some science-related fields might require candidates to have specialized quantitative reasoning skills, such as familiarity with high-level mathematics. Many fields also seek candidates who have a working knowledge of how to perform basic calculations and assess trends or events represented in numerical form.

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9. Business management skills

Business management skills involve the knowledge of both economic and management principles and can help you oversee for-profit operations effectively. While most people work for businesses of some sort, employees with business management skills often have experience analyzing the financial health of their organizations and taking actions to improve it. Business management skills include competencies in sales and marketing, financial management, labor supervision and planning. Since most businesses face changes regularly, employers value professionals who can develop plans to grow revenue as markets and consumer behaviors evolve.

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10. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills help you relate to and work with other members of your organization. They empower you to appreciate the differences between individuals and adapt your behavior to earn their trust and respect. Interpersonal skills largely involve emotional intelligence and the capacity to show traits such as patience, empathy, friendliness and dependability. Employers seek employees who have the interpersonal awareness to be positive collaborators in the workplace. Without these key skills, technical skills may become less effective as teamwork decreases. In contrast, inexperienced hires can progress quickly if they apply interpersonal skills to their work relationships.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What's the Difference?

11. Negotiation skills

Negotiation skills are the techniques professionals use to reach agreements with other parties in and outside of their organizations. They help people achieve desirable outcomes while maintaining positive relationships with negotiating partners. Talented negotiators use skills such as building rapport, persuasion and problem-solving to address issues during the negotiation process and find compromises. Many standard business activities, such as contracting services or entering partnerships, depend on negotiation skills for success.

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