What Not To Include in Your Resume Skills Section

Updated August 31, 2023

The skills section is a crucial component of your resume and can play a significant role in your chances of interesting a potential employer. This section is where you list the skills you possess that are most relevant to the job you are applying for. While several skills should be included on your resume, there are also a few skills you should keep out of this section.

In this article, we will review the skills you shouldn’t include in your resume and tips for making the most out of your skills list.

Resume Format

What is a resume skills section?

The skills section on your resume is where you list the skills you have that make you a good candidate for a job. Examples of skills you may list in this section include knowledge of software, apps and programs related to the position you’re applying for. Your skills section allows hiring managers to identify why they should consider you for a position. It also helps to clearly show your qualifications, and it can set you apart from other candidates.

Related: The Best Job Skills To Make Your Resume Stand Out

Why is a skills section on your resume important?

Including a skills section on your professional resume is a great way to highlight all the skills you possess that make you an ideal candidate for a potential job. For example, if you are applying for an editing position, having skills related to knowledge of content management systems and editing programs can show the potential employer that you are qualified. Additional reasons a skills section is important include:

  • It sets you apart from the competition

  • It clearly defines what you can offer the company

  • It gives you the chance to list specific skills that the company is looking for

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a Resume

Image description

The image has a headline that says, "Resume skills"
A simple resume design is presented with lines. Off both sides of the resume, there are 10 resume skills listed.
1. Active listening
2. Communication
3. Computer
4. Customer service
5. Interpersonal
6. Leadership
7. Management
8. Problem-solving
9. Time management
10. Resourcefulness

Five skills you shouldn’t include in your resume skills section

When creating your skills section, it is important to keep the skills you list as specific to the job you are applying for as possible. While highlighting relevant skills is important, it is also important to leave off some skills. The following is a list of a few skills you shouldn’t include when writing your resume skills section:

1. Basic computer skills

Most, if not all individuals in the workforce are familiar with using basic computer programs such as email and Microsoft Office programs like Microsoft Word. Including these skills may appear to potential employers as if you are simply trying to fill out your skills section rather than putting thought into the skills you include. Unless you are skilled in a specific aspect of these programs, such as creating and importing data from Microsoft Excel, leave these off of your resume.

2. Languages you aren't fluent in

If you studied a language in high school or college but are no longer able to speak it fluently, it might be best not to include it in your resume. While you may feel that adding a language to your resume will make you stand out from other potential candidates, employers believe this means you can speak it fluently. So, if you aren’t fluent in a particular language, consider leaving it off of your resume to avoid confusion. Rather than including skills you used to have, the goal is to include skills that you can discuss with potential employers confidently.

3. Irrelevant skills

You should avoid including skills on your resume that are not relevant to the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an accounting position, including the fact that you have great drawing skills is most likely not going to help you get that job. Keep your skills list as tailored to the position you are interested in as possible. You could even consider editing your resume to suit each job you apply for to ensure you include only the most relevant skills for that position.

4. Skills you don’t possess

Similar to including a language you aren’t fluent in, adding skills on your resume you don’t possess may not be the best idea. While it may seem like a good idea to match the skills the job listing asks for, if you don’t have these skills, you may find it challenging to complete the job responsibilities once you receive the position. Also, if a potential employer discovers that you were not truthful on your resume, they may see you in a less-than-positive light. They will likely ask you about your skills in an interview, so it is best to be honest from the beginning.

5. Generalized skills

When you are planning your resume skills section, it is also important to consider the language you use to list your abilities. If possible, avoid using overgeneralized words when describing your skills. Examples of generalized words you should out of your skills list include creative, focused, experienced and skilled. Instead, try to find a more specific word or phrase to convey your abilities.

Related: 139 Action Verbs To Make Your Resume Stand Out

Tips for writing a great resume skills section

Before submitting your resume for consideration, take the time to review your skills section and ensure it is tailored to the job you are applying for. The following tips can help you write an eye-catching skills list.

Study the job listing

Rather than just skimming the job post and hitting “apply,” take a few minutes to really consider what the company is looking for. What is the job title? What qualifications are they seeking in a candidate? What would your responsibilities be? Use all of this information to structure your skills section so it applies to the specific job you are applying for.

Be as specific as possible

Try to avoid listing general skills that most candidates will likely have. For example, rather than saying that you have “extensive computer skills,” list the exact computer skills you have, such as knowledge of particular software.

Edit your resume to suit the job you’re seeking

Consider editing your resume each time you apply for a job. This is especially important if you are applying for jobs in various industries. Keeping your skills section as closely related to the job as possible can help potential employers realize why you’d be a good fit.

Look at examples of resumes for the job or industry

If you are unsure of what to include in the skills section of your resume, look at some examples of what other people in your industry have included in their own resumes. A simple online search should provide you with several examples. You can use these resumes as inspiration for your own skills section.

List your skills in a definitive way

Employers often want to see specific examples of your skills in action. So, when writing your skills section, try to be as specific as possible. For example, rather than saying “experienced graphic designer,” you could say “seasoned graphic designer with extensive experience using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.”

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