A step-by-step guide on how to describe skills on resume

how to describe skills on resume

So, you’ve listed career history and accomplishments, added the university degree and even wrote a catchy career summary. Is your resume now ready to be presented to employers? Not exactly. Strong resumes all have the Skills section where you have a chance to brag your competencies. This section has a purpose of persuading the employers that you qualify and can hit the ground running immediately. 

The process of adding skills is fairly simple, but be selective. Simply listing everything you’ve ever done is faulty tactic, and so is putting random skills that have nothing to do with the job. Today, the experts of Accuroresumes.com are going to show you how to describe skills on resume in a way that catches the recruiter’s attention. We will also share the examples of basic skills you can add to your CV right now. 

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Where and how to describe your skills on a resume? 

Before we get down to the peculiarities of how to describe skills on resume, let’s decide on where to put this section. There are two main strategies – you can put Skills at the top after the Summary of qualifications, or near to bottom. Both strategies are viable, and can be used depending on your profession and job-searching goals. 

Putting the skills at the top makes sense if: 

  • You have a skill-based job. Sure, soft skills matter for most of us, but some professionals are specifically hired for knowing the software, programming languages, machinery, certain laws or practices. In this case, let them know from the first lines that you’ve got the right qualifications for the job. 
  • Your experience is minor to skillset. The key how to describe your skills on a resume is to understand what’s more valuable to an employer. Say, your previous employer wasn’t well-known in the professional circles while your skillset is impressive. So, you simply put higher what values most. 
  • You are a recent graduate. When you’re just out of college, you probably have little experience to brag about. Thus, focus on computer, personal and other skills you’ve acquired in college. Below, you’ll find more tips and guidance on how to describe skills on a resume. 

Now, let’s see when the opposite makes sense. 

Placing the skills at the bottom is more efficient when: 

  • You have strong, consistent career track. If you’re a professional with steady and consistent career history, use it as the main selling point of your resume. Show off as you went through the ranks and gained more and more responsibility and focus on this point, putting the skills closer to the bottom. 
  • You don’t have much skills to humblebrag about. Some jobs don’t require much skills, and all candidates for the position have these skills. If this sounds like you, it’s better to stand out using professional accomplishments since skills won’t add much value. 

Have you determined which strategy works for you? Great! Below, you’ll find some practical tips on how to describe skills on a resume. 

6 tips on how to describe skills on a resume 

  • List 10-15 most important skills. Resume space is limited; thus you only want to include the highly important details. The experts recommend that you keep the list between 10 and 15 skills. This is enough even for experienced professional. If you want to list more skills or you have a versatile background, try using categories. 
  • Use subtitles for different kinds of skills. To list diverse skills, divide them by categories (i.e. interpersonal skills, programming languages, foreign languages, software skills). Thus, you make it easier for the recruiter to look through this section make everything look more organized. Yet, if you have a small list of skills, using categories isn’t the best strategy. 
  • Make sure it’s relevant. It’s the main principle of how to describe skills in CV. Employers have little interest in culinary skills if they’re looking for an office manager, right? Amid the dozens of skills choose those that the company needs. Read the job posting top to bottom highlighting the skills they request, and describe these skills in detail. That’s the easiest way to pass the ATS selection and resume screening. 
  • Mention dated skills only. If you are curious “How do I describe my skills on a resume?”, remember that all skills you list should be fresh. In other words, no Microsoft Office 2010, and no outdated operating systems like Windows 98. Focus on things you’re good at now and the ones you constantly work on. 
  • Avoid obvious skills. Your purpose is to set yourself apart from others. So, put something unique, complex, or highly important there. Teamwork, MS Word, time management or communication aren’t good examples of skill – everyone has them! Use such skills only if you’re a student and don’t have many skills to describe. 
  • Repeat key skills in other section. The most important keywords should be used more than once. For example, if your job assumes heavy communication with programmers and other technical specialists, list both communication and technology skills. Then repeat these skills in the Work Experience section, and give examples, such as “Coordinated work of 5 Java developers in development and delivery of project work for assigned applications”. 

Skills that are applicable everywhere so everyone can use them 

Job-seekers who wonder how to describe skills in resume often hesitate about which skills to add. We’ll explain it in a moment. 

There is plenty of universal skills that are valued in all industries and professions. If you lack inspiration for writing your list of skills, check the suggested examples below. 

  • Active listening
  • Adaptability
  • Conflict management
  • Critical thinking
  • Customer service and sales 
  • Emotional intelligence 
  • Problem solving 
  • Project management 
  • Technical writing 
  • Verbal and written communication

Most of the above-listed skills are universal. They portray the person’s ability to cooperate with colleagues on projects effectively, negotiate, handle misunderstandings and serve customers. Whether you’re an accountant, product owner, psychologist or administrative assistant, mentioning them on a resume will definitely leave a good impression with your prospective employer. 

Here’s another important point on how to describe skills on resume. After you’ve listed certain skills, prove them in your work experience. Don’t make an employer guess what stands behind the “cross-functional collaboration” statement. Otherwise, the employer might assume that they are just meaningless buzzwords, and this won’t help you get that job! 

The easiest way how to describe skills in CV

Do all these rules sound complicated? We totally understand. That’s why our team has been helping people around the world to get better resumes that sell them for their dream jobs. Our certified writers are well trained in all aspects of resume writing and will be glad to assist you with resume writing. So, you won’t have to puzzle over how to describe your skills on a resume!

To get started, simply write us “I need help with my resume!” We’ll pick the writer who specializes in your industry and they’ll create a custom resume for you, with a two-week revision guarantee. Take a step towards your dream job right now!