Updated: Jul 8
You’ve probably been told you must have a “skills section” on your resume. And like most people, you probably added one. But you may not know that your skills section could be a waste of space on your resume. Many people make the mistake of thinking that the longer this section is, the better. In fact, including irrelevant skills or too many skills can hurt your chances of getting a job.
The truth is that recruiters and hiring managers aren’t going to contact you simply because you have a long list of skills on your resume. Listing skills without explaining how they were applied in the workplace is useless. Here are some best practices for creating a resume skills section that works for (not against) you and maximizes the visibility of your resume.
Skills Section Placement
First, there are no hard and fast rules on where to place the skills section. The most common placement is near the top, just beneath the summary section, but some prefer to put it at the bottom. Another option is to list skills used in each job at the end of each employment entry to supplement your work experience. No matter where you put it, clearly label your skills section. You can call it "skills," "other skills," "related skills," or "technical skills"—whatever best fits your resume format.
Tailor Your Skills Section for Each Job
Before you start writing your resume, research the job you're applying for and list the skills and qualifications that are most relevant to the position. Here you’ll only want to include six to eight critical skills related to your technical ability. This requires using keywords from the job posting to ensure that your skills match what the employer wants. Doing so increases your chances of getting past that pesky applicant tracking system (ATS) that many companies use to scan resumes for relevant keywords and qualifications before forwarding them for human review.
Illustrate the Use of Your Skills
Link your skills section to your experience by using specific examples to help illustrate your skills in action for the recruiter or hiring manager. For example, instead of just listing leadership as a skill, consider the power of this statement: "Led a team of 10 people to achieve a 20% increase in sales within 6 months." This gives a clear picture of your leadership skills and the impact you can make in an organization.
Don’t let your skills section waste valuable space on your resume. Stick to the facts and focus on highlighting your successes in the experience section. By following these tips and taking a few minutes to streamline your resume skills section, you will effectively showcase your qualifications and have more relevant content in your resume.
Are you a veteran, military spouse, or transitioning service member interested in learning more or getting individualized job search assistance? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Robinson is a Career Coach at Easterseals Veteran Staffing Network (VSN), where he assists Veterans, military spouses, and transitioning service members in achieving their employment goals. With over 10 years of experience, Michael has held various roles, including hiring manager, corporate recruiter, and career counselor. Before joining VSN, he worked as a Department of Labor Transition Assistance Program (DOL TAP) Facilitator, where he helped military service members and their spouses navigate the military-to-civilian transition process.