Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples for a Resume

Updated August 7, 2023

Performing any job requires the use of multiple skill sets. Many jobs require skills related to physical or digital tools—these are often called "technical skills." Technical skills can vary widely across industries and jobs.

In this article, we explore the variety of technical skills you might need in your career path, as well as how to improve them.

What are technical skills?

Technical skills, also known as hard skills, are qualities acquired by using and gaining expertise in performing physical or digital tasks. There are many different kinds of technical skills. Traditionally, people working in mathematics, computer science, mechanics and information technology have used many technical skills. Today, however, many more industries rely on employees with technical knowledge. For example, retail and foodservice workers often need to know how to use point-of-sale (POS) software.

Some specific examples of technical skills might include:

  • Programming languages

  • Common operating systems

  • Software proficiency

  • Technical writing

  • Project management

  • Data analysis

Technical skills vary widely between industry and job type. For computer programmers, knowledge of various coding languages is considered a technical skill. Customer service representatives may need technical skills relating to customer management and telephone systems. Teachers might need technical skills related to instructional technologies and software applications ranging from student behavior monitoring to grading.

Related: How to develop your skill set to advance your career

Why are technical skills important?

Technical skills are important because nearly every job relies on different tools, programs and processes. If you have sought-after technical knowledge and skills common in your industry, you’ll be a more competitive candidate. For example, while a welder may have a positive demeanor and excellent customer service skills (these are good examples of “soft skills”), their skillful handling of a torch will be crucial to their technical and practical success.

Related: Hard skills vs. Soft skills

What skills are employers looking for?

When employers post jobs, they often include lists of both “required” and “desired” technical skills.

“Required” skills are often considered a prerequisite to performing the job successfully upon hire. For example, if you’re applying to be a chef, you may be required to possess basic cooking skills. While some companies can provide on-the-job training, others may need to hire an experienced chef who will only need to be trained on new recipes.

When an employer lists “desired” skills, they are indicating that while there are some competencies they would like to see on a resume, they may be open to hiring someone without that experience. Employers are often willing to help new hires acquire desired skills on the job, if necessary. This may be common for positions with a high turnover rate or those that have specialized tools or programs which are difficult to gain experience with prior to employment.

Related: Best skills to include on a resume

Examples of technical skills

The type of technical skills you may be required to know or learn will depend on the job you’re seeking. However, there are several technical skills that are common across different industries.

Here are a few examples of different technical skills you may see listed on job posts:


In addition to software engineers, there are many jobs today that require programming knowledge. If you’re looking for a job as a writer, for example, you may be required to have some basic knowledge of HTML.

Other highly sought-after programming languages may include:

  • C/C++

  • C#

  • Java

  • JavaScript

  • Perl

  • PHP

  • Python

  • Swift

  • Go

  • SQL

  • R

  • Ruby

Review the job posting as you fill out your skills section on your resume or Indeed Resume. If you have the skills that employers are looking for, you should list them on your resume.

Related: 11 of the most in-demand coding languages

Productivity software applications

Most industries use both common and specialized software. This often includes what’s known as “productivity software,” or software designed to help get work done faster and more efficiently. Most commonly, this includes word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software.

Other sought-after productivity software applications include:

  • Google Suite (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms)

  • Trello

  • Slack

  • Zapier

  • Zoom

  • JIRA

  • Salesforce

Because these software applications are so prevalent and often a basic requirement of many jobs, you may not need to list any individually on your resume—unless you know specific aspects of these programs. For example, instead of listing “Expert in Microsoft Excel, you could be more specific and name a function like “Expert in Microsoft Excel, including vlookup and pivot tables.”

Related: Computer skills: Definitions and examples

Industry-specific skills

Technical skills vary by industry, so it’s important to do some research on the industry you’re looking to work in. You can do this by looking at job posts from employers in that industry and creating a list of the common technical skills employers list. Highlight those you already possess or can easily learn and consider prioritizing them on your resume.

Here are a few examples of position-specific technical skills you may find on job postings:

Project management:

  • Budget planning

  • Risk management

  • Project planning

  • PM tools (JIRA, Trello,

  • Task management

  • SCRUM methodology

  • Agile methodology

Product management:

  • Product roadmaps

  • User experience design

  • Programming skills

  • Product lifecycle management

  • QA testing

  • Requirements gathering

Software development:

  • Coding

  • Debugging

  • Implementation

  • Testing

  • Design

  • Configuration

  • Applications

  • IOS/Android

  • Programming languages

  • Security

  • Algorithms

  • Modeling

  • Documentation


  • Adobe creative apps

  • HTML

  • Interactive media

  • Wireframing

  • UX research

  • Prototyping

  • Color theory

  • Responsive design

  • Photoshop

  • Sketch

  • User modeling


  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Digital media

  • Social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)

  • Automated marketing software

  • Content Management Systems (CMS)

  • Copywriting

  • Content creation

  • Google Analytics

  • Marketing analytics tools

Health care:

  • Medical billing

  • Medical coding

  • Electronic medical record software

  • Sonography

  • Certifications

Other industry-specific skills include:

  • Retail and foodservice: Point of sale software

  • Architecture and engineering: CAD software

  • Shipping and transportation: Logistics management software

  • Journalism and writing: Content Management Systems

  • Accounting and finance: Bookkeeping software

Related: How to develop your skill set to advance your career

How to improve your technical skills

If you’re changing industries or positions, you may need to consider improving on or acquiring new abilities. There are several steps you can take to improve your technical skills.

1. Enroll in courses for different skills

Most technical skills can be learned through a dedicated training program or class. Depending on the type of skill, you may be able to learn that skill by taking one or more courses, either online or in person. There are free and paid classes available online.

Read more: 5 steps to learn new skills

2. Use a self-study training program

There’s a chance you may be able to acquire different skills through self-study programs. That could include “how-to” books, self-paced online lessons, or free training materials available from different sources.

3. Learn from a professional

You may be able to locate a professional who already possesses the technical skills you want. If so, that individual may be able to help teach you the skills you’re looking for, either for free or for compensation.

Related: How To Prepare for an Informational Interview

4. Learn on the job

Some employers may be able to provide on-the-job training. If you do not have certain technical skills an employer desires, make it known that you are eager to learn whatever skills are necessary to effectively perform the job.

Related: 20 skills in demand in today's workforce

How to include technical skills on your resume

When applying for jobs, you can use both your resume and cover letter to highlight your most important and relevant technical skills employers may find valuable.

Technical skills for resume

Your resume should include a skills section that highlights your most valuable technical skills relevant to the position you're applying to. Your resume should include 10-30 skills, with a combination of soft and hard skills. Try to have your technical skills account for at least half of your skills section. While you may possess several different skills, focus on the technical skills that the employer is looking for that make you a competitive candidate.

Technical skills: Skill 1 | Skill 2 | Skill 3 | Skill 4 |

Resume Format
Image description

"Resume Format" is the title of this infographic that shows an image of an example resume.

On the left side of the infographic, a numbered list points to each section of the resume.

  1. Name and contact information

  2. Summary or objective

  3. Professional history
    a. Company name
    b. Dates of tenure
    c. Description of role and achievement

  4. Education

  5. Skills

  6. Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)

On the right side of the image is a sample resume with the name Janet Chobot and lines representing text underneath. Then the headlines Summary, Professional History, Educational History, Skills, and Awards & Achievements. Under each section are lines representing text.

For some jobs, you may want to avoid listing the most common technical skills that the potential employer would assume every applicant already has (such as proficiency in an email platform, for example).

Related: How to write a resume employers will notice

Technical skills for cover letter

In your cover letter, you may want to mention a few of your most valuable skills. However, keep in mind that the cover letter should be focused, brief and avoid self-promotion. Your cover letter should give the employer a solid introduction to who you are, but also cover what you know about the company, its values and how you might be a good fit for the company’s vision.

Image description

"Cover Letter Format" is the title of this infographic that shows an image of an example email.

On the left side of the infographic, a numbered list identifies each section of the cover letter:

  1. Date and contact information

  2. Salutation or greeting

  3. Opening paragraph

  4. Middle paragraph(s)

  5. Closing paragraph

  6. Letter ending and signature

The cover letter reads:

Anne Galindo
(123) 456-7890
January 23, 20XX

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am excited to be applying for the web developer position at [Company Name]. I’ve been programming websites and using CSS to create user-friendly experiences since I was in middle school, so it’s always been a passion of mine. I’ve also been intrigued by your company since it won Most Innovative at the National Web Development Awards two years ago. I strive to stay on the cutting edge of web design and development, so when I saw this job posting, I knew I had to apply.

During my previous role at [Company Name], I built a website completely from scratch for a recently rebranded business both ahead of schedule and within budget. I started by gathering requirements for my clients and holding a focus group to perform user research. My favorite part of web design is building a solution that impresses the client and meets the needs of users and customers. My new website was responsive, extremely fast, and included the latest e-commerce features. After launch, I continued to lead optimization efforts. Through AB testing, I improved the click-through rate by 10% and reduced the bounce rate on the website’s landing page by 35%. As your web developer, I would bring the skills to develop websites that exceed the expectations of clients and customers and drive real business results.

One of the factors that really attracted me to this role is that [Company Name] values giving back to the community. In my spare time, I run free web development workshops for at-risk youths. In these workshops, I teach them the basics of HTML/CSS and JavaScript and serve as a mentor. As I grow in my career, applying my skills to help others and make an impact on the world becomes more important — I believe this role would give me that opportunity. Thank you for your consideration in time I’m looking forward to learning more details about the position and company.

Sincerely, Anne Galindo

How to keep your technical skills current

Unlike soft skills, technical skills change with time. Once you’ve successfully landed a job, it can be helpful to keep your technical skills active. Use them as frequently as possible and refresh those skills with continuing education. In many cases, the tools or programs you commonly use will change over time, so the technical skills you possess now may need to be enhanced with new knowledge. It’s better to get ahead of changes in your field instead of waiting until your skill is outdated.

Keep your resume updated as you gain new technical skills or enhance the ones you currently possess. Whether you’re in a technical field or in skilled labor, employers want workers who have the skills required to get the job done efficiently and successfully.

Frequently asked questions

Can you learn technical skills on the job, or do they require formal training?

You most often develop technical skills through formal education and training, but you can also learn them on the job. While some technical skills may require specific certifications or degrees, some learn them through hands-on experience and self-directed learning at work or on their own time. There are several ways to learn technical skills on the job. One approach is to find mentors or colleagues who are knowledgeable in the skills you want to develop and ask for guidance or advice. You can also attend training sessions or workshops offered by your employer or industry associations.

Another effective way to learn technical skills is through project-based learning. By taking challenging projects that require you to develop new technical skills, you can gain practical experience and build your expertise. This can be particularly useful if you work in a small organization or startup, where there may be more opportunities to take on a variety of tasks and responsibilities.

How do you balance technical and soft skills in professional development?

Technical skills are important for performing specific tasks and achieving specific goals, while soft skills are necessary for effective communication, teamwork and leadership. To balance technical and soft skills in professional development, it's important to identify your strengths and areas for improvement in both areas. You can achieve this through self-reflection, feedback from colleagues and supervisors and competency assessments. 

Once you identify your strengths and weaknesses, you can develop a professional development plan that includes strategies for improving both technical and soft skills. This may involve taking courses or workshops to develop technical skills or attending training sessions.

Are technical skills more important than education when you're looking for a job?

While technical skills may be more important for some jobs, education can be valuable in demonstrating a candidate's broader capabilities and potential for growth. Some employers may prioritize education to ensure that candidates have a well-rounded skill set and a strong foundation of knowledge in a particular field. 

For example, while an engineer may need technical skills to perform their job, an employer is likely to still require at least a bachelor's degree in engineering and a license before extending a job offer. Engineering is a field that requires a thorough understanding of both academic concepts and technical skills.

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