Best Skills to List on Your Resume (and Some Skills to Exclude)

Reflecting in-demand qualifications on your resume is key.

By Robin Reshwan

THE AVERAGE AMERICAN will change jobs around 10 times in their adult life. The hard truth of a modern career is that all of us will need to showcase our capabilities 20 to 40 times to secure those 10 roles. The first step of almost every interview process is to submit a resume. With so much riding on that first impression, reflecting targeted skills in your resume is key. Here are some in-demand skills and abilities to include on your resume.

Impact. An effective resume shows – not tells – how you add value. Yes, you need to list your responsibilities, but you also need to show what happened because you were there. In other words, call out your impact. For example, if you are responsible for recruiting and hiring (and you would say it is one of your key strengths), include how many people you hired, how quickly you made those hires and how many of your hires have outlasted the average tenure of your firm or your industry.

Collaboration. Every job description asks for "cross-functional collaboration." Translation: You play well in the sandbox with other people who aren't your immediate co-workers. To illustrate your collegial approach, describe "enterprise-wide taskforces you were invited to join." Or, communicate how "your team was able to move through financial planning and analysis's approval process two times faster than other managers because of your track record of quality work." In short, show what was accomplished when you partnered across the company.

Deadline-driven. In a competitive, technology-infused environment, even results with a 24-hour turnaround can seem 25 hours past due. The most productive employees get stuff done fast and have tactics for setting and exceeding deadline-driven expectations. Give evidence of your ability to work under pressure.

Ability to thrive in chaotic environments. When speed is king, many organizations act before all options are assessed. Employees who can survive and even thrive in cultures where priorities shift, variables change and goals are sometimes moving targets are in greater demand than those looking for stable and fixed roles. Most growing companies are in flux and they want employees who can function without a fully developed structure.

Analysis and insights. No role or industry is untouched by data and analysis. If you are a doctor, you have stats about patients seen in a day or satisfaction ratings. Delivery driver? You have tracking regarding your route time, deliveries made and lost or damaged packages. Know the quantifiable metrics for your profession and address what those indicators show about you.

Things to Not Include on Your Resume

Your home address. It is not needed at the time of application and it can have some privacy or discrimination risks.

Titles to contact information. For example, instead of "Phone: 555-123-4567" you can just list the number "555-123-4567." It will be recognized for what it is.

Don't list how many years of experience you have in your summary. First, job posts never ask for "two decades of managerial experience" – so writing that as the lead in your summary earns you no points for applicant tracking systems or with the recruiter. And second, a reader can add up your years of experience (or make a pretty good guess) – so why give up your most valuable resume "real estate" to words that add no value to your candidacy?

Subjective or adjective-heavy soft skills. For example: "People person." "Meticulous attention to detail." "Team player." Recruiters and hiring authorities see hundreds of resumes. Subjective descriptions do not add any value. Hiring professionals have seen or met enough "detail-oriented" people who leave periods off sentences and forget to check spelling to not blindly believe you are the one who really is detailed. If you cannot demonstrate or validate that you have a soft skill, it doesn't help your candidacy.

Employers often receive more than 200 resumes for job openings. Now that staff turnover is at an all-time high, discerning hiring managers look for candidates who can walk in with the skills to do the job today. Make sure your resume reflects the skills and qualifications most in-demand for the role you are targeting. A customized, well-written resume is a critical component of a successful modern job search.

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