How to Choose the Skills for a Winning Resume

how to write a winning resume

A winning resume needs the right skills in the right place

Many job seekers think they know how to write a resume that will land them their dream job.

But they often forget about the importance of skills, which can turn a mediocre CV into a winning one, depending on the relevance of the skills to the intended employer.

Many candidates will be tempted to simply add a skills section listing their qualifications at the bottom of their resumes.

That’s not the way to use your skills to your advantage. Putting the right skills in the right places on your resume attracts recruiters and shows that you’re the right match for the job.

Take a look at the infographic below, and make sure you follow the tips. They will help you choose the right skills for your resume and land more job interviews.

1. What skills should land on your resume?

You can divide work-related skills into two basic types: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are the qualifications you need to do a particular job. For example, if you’re applying for the position of “Software Developer,” you need to know the required programming languages. That’s a hard skill.

Soft skills are “people skills.” They’re harder to measure because they relate to your emotional intelligence and personality.

Here are some examples of soft skills:

  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Relationship building

It’s hard to prove that you’ve got these skills. After all, there are no certificates for great time management skills or collaboration. But that’s also why recruiters value them so much.

When faced with two candidates who have the same hard skills, hiring managers will choose the one that also included great soft skills on their resume.

A study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) showed that recruiters value leadership or the ability to work on a team the most, in new student applicants.

Both hard and soft skills are essential to a successful job application. But how can you tell which skills recruiters want from you the most?

2. Here’s how to learn what recruiters want

Have a look at the job description. You’ll see a list of qualifications and skills required by the employer.

These are the skills that recruiters expect to see on resumes. They will scan your resume for these skills before they read your documents. If you put these skills on your resume in prominent places, the recruiter will know right away that you’re qualified to do the job.

Underline all the skills you can find in the job description. Compile them into a list. It will serve as a reference for tailoring your resume to match the job posting.

3. Research which skills your sector values most

Often, there are many skills not listed in the job description that recruiters will still find valuable.

If you’re after a particular job, find out what skills are valuable in that profession by researching through people with a similar job on LinkedIn.

Type the job title into the search bar. LinkedIn will suggest “people with ___ titles”– for example “people with Creative Director titles.” Click on it.

Check out the top profiles with skills in mind. See any skills that pop up across multiple profiles? There’s a good chance that these skills are universally valuable for that profession.

Check them against the skills listed in your job description. Note that even if they don’t show up, you can add them to your resume if you have them.

Do you spot similar skills? If you do, it’s a clear indication that these skills are in demand in the industry you’re targeting.

Do you have these skills? Be sure to add them to your resume in the most prominent places – your resume summary, experience section, and skills section.

Pro Tip: You can also look at similar job descriptions to see what other skills are listed. It’s the same principle as checking out professionals on LinkedIn. Look for skills repeated across similar job descriptions. Add them to your resume if you have them.

4. Where should you place skills on a resume?

Now that you know which skills to put on your resume, you need to find the right place for them.

Don’t just jam them all together at the bottom of your resume.

Instead, place these skills in prominent locations throughout your resume. For example, if you’re a genius at programming in Java, incorporate the skill into your experience section:

Skill: Knowledge of Java

Experience Section Entry: Delivered 13 Java application projects for small- to mid-sized organizations.

Add figures and numbers to draw attention to the skill. These numbers will help the hiring managers get a sense of your expertise and imagine you achieving similar results for them.

5. Now check that you’ve added plenty of keyword skills

There is a chance that your resume will have to pass through Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. The software scans your resume for relevance before ranking it among others.

That means that you have to create a resume that will satisfy both the bots and the humans.

The software will scan the resume for keywords. These keywords are often the same as those that appear in the job description.  Add these keywords to your resume and the software will find it relevant.

To do it well, you need to scatter keywords throughout your resume. If appropriate, use phrases from the description verbatim. The one thing you don’t want to do is pack your resume with keywords.

Remember that a human being will have to read your resume in the end. And packing your resume with keywords will make it incoherent. Don’t create a collection of skills without any context just for the sake of relevance.

Key takeaway

Only 2% of candidates who apply for a job land an interview.

And it’s not likely that the other 98% were simply unqualified for the job.

They simply failed at some point to convince the hiring manager that they’ve got the required skills.

By adding relevant skills to your resume, you’re making sure that the hiring manager is going to see that you’re a good match for the job.

It’s time you revamped your job search, so use these five tips to get the right skills in the right place.

That’s how you score more job interviews and get closer to your dream job.

Infographic

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