Job Search Tips Resumes & Cover Letters

13 Skills You Need to Put on Your Resume

Written by Kate Lopaze

You got skills. And you know how to use them. Presumably, that’s why you’re trying to get someone to pay you for them. Your resume is nothing if not a fancy package of your skills—but did you know that not all skills are created equally?

Skills that helped you win your college ping pong championship are not necessarily the same ones that will land you the new job you want, so you have to be discerning. Here are 13 skill types, and how to use them on your resume if you have them.

The Hard Skills

“Hard” skills are the ones that can tie most directly to the job you’re seeking. They’re easy for a recruiter or an interviewer to recognize and quantify, and they tell a lot about you. These include:

1. Foreign language fluency

2. Specific certifications you may have

3. Computer programming skills

4. Typing speed (words per minute)

5. Specific software proficiency and training

6. Proofreading and copyediting skills

Hard skills don’t leave a lot of wiggle room, so this is not an area you want to fudge. If you put on your resume that you speak excellent French, when your experience is really limited to 8th grade lessons, you run the risk of interviewing with someone who spent a semester in Paris. And when that happens…c’est dommage, mon ami.

Building hard skills is pretty straightforward as well. If you want to learn HTML coding to add it to your resume, you can take any number of online courses or tutorials. If you want to get your typing skills up to 80 words per minute, you can drill yourself until you get up to speed (ha). These are specific skills with specific goals.

The Soft Skills

“Soft” skills are less tangible abilities. They’re just as important, because they tell the resume reader more about what you could bring to the job on a day-to-day basis. Soft skills include things like:

7. Teamwork/collaboration

8. Time management

9. Flexibility and adaptability

8. Communication skills

9. Problem solving

10. Conflict resolution

11. Negotiation

Unlike hard skills, soft skills do often leave a bit of room for interpretation. You can adapt all sorts of real world scenarios to back them up. For example, if you brokered peace between feuding teams in your last job, boom—negotiation skills. Where hard skills tell the reader information right away, soft skills are more about showing. Always have specific examples of your soft skills in mind, so that you can come up with evidence on the spot if necessary.

If you want to build soft skills, it might not be as easy as with the hard skills, but it can be done. You can take public speaking courses to improve your communication skills, or sign up to volunteer in order to gain experience. Another great way to boost soft skills is to pick a mentor, and work with that person on areas where you could use some enhancement/improvement. Downloading someone else’s expertise can help you see what you need, and can help you brainstorm ways to get there.

The Skills to Avoid

Remember when I said not all skills are created equally in resume world? There are some skills that don’t necessarily belong on your resume, no matter how awesome you are at them. Unless they apply directly to the job at hand, there’s no reason to include skills like these:

  • Personal/hobby skills
  • Sports skills
  • Academic skills

While these are all great, and probably show how well-rounded you are as a person, they undermine your resume as a lean, mean, job-specific machine. Unless you’re applying for grad school or a volunteer position based on your extra-professional hobbies, these types of skills shouldn’t be on your official resume.

Your resume should be a snapshot of the best of your abilities, as they pertain to your next job opportunity. You already have a ton of skills, so it’s just a matter of rounding them up and figuring out which ones make for the best applicant package.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.