Resume Skills Section: How to write a skills section for your resume.

Whether you’re trying to catch a recruiter’s eye or rise to the top of an applicant tracking system‘s rankings, seeding your resume with relevant resume keywords should be a top priority. One simple way to do this is through a resume skills section.

A designated skills list is an optional resume section and not part of a traditional resume format. Find a good hybrid/combination or functional resume template if you want a skills section on your resume.

Here are four ways to show off what you can do with a resume skills section:

1. Simple bullet list resume skills section

The most straight-forward way is to make a list immediately following your contact information and summary statement. For example, a Customer Success Manager’s bullet points might look like this:

  • Account Management
  • Training
  • Product Management
  • Customer Experience
  • Digital Marketing
  • CRM
  • Product Adoption
  • On-boarding
  • Customer Engagement

Hitting all the top job requirements with your skills list will make a recruiter’s ears perk up. It will also help you rank highly for a keyword search within an applicant tracking system. It’s an attention-getter, but don’t stop there. Just because you list these skills on your resume doesn’t mean a corporate recruiter will believe you.

If you use this type of resume skills section, be sure to add context for every skill elsewhere in your work experience. If a recruiter is excited by “Product Adoption” in your skills section, the first thing they’ll do is skim your work experience to figure out when, how, and how much you used that skill.

The same goes for resume skills sections with rating systems. Giving yourself a 5/5 or “expert” rating on a skill doesn’t matter if that expertise isn’t communicated in other ways. Context is everything.

2. Skills list with expanded bullets

One way to add context is by lengthening the bullet points. For example:

  • CRM – 4+ years leveraging Salesforce on a daily basis. Earned Salesforce Certification in January 2017. Also have experience with Pipedrive (1 year) and Highrise (6 months).

This approach is more impactful than only listing the skills, however it takes up more room at the top of your resume. Consider trimming down your bullet list to your most important four or five skills when using this method. Then, work your remaining skills into your work experience.

3. List additional skills after each job

If you’d like to stay closer to a reverse-chronological resume format, consider adding shorter skill lists to each work experience section. For example:

ABC Corporation, Detroit, MI
Social Media Coordinator, June 2017-Jan. 2018

Managed social media communities across multiple platforms. Grew social followings, including Twitter (113%), Instagram (85%), Pinterest (41%), and Facebook (38%). Planned content and developed publishing schedule to post an average of 15 new updates per channel each week. Created custom graphics in Adobe Photoshop, resulting in a 61% increase in engagement versus text-based posts. Wrote 1-2 articles per week for B2C and B2B blogs. Tracked traffic and paid conversions through Google Analytics.

Additional Software Used: WordPress, Hootsuite, Hubspot, Trello

Fitting all the skills into the bigger text block might make it awkward for the recruiter to read, but removing them all would make the descriptions overly vague. By working some hard skills right into the work experience and listing others afterwards, you can make your experience easier to read while still covering all your bases.

4. Break resume skills sections into categories

If you’re applying for a role requiring a broad skillset and your work history lends itself to it, consider categorizing your skills into multiple lists.

This often works best for people transitioning into management roles where they need to prove that they can work with people from multiple disciplines. For example, someone applying for a role as a Marketing Manager might benefit from segmenting their skill lists as follows:

  • Print Marketing
  • Broadcast Marketing
  • Digital Marketing
  • Public Relations

The Digital Marketing list would include specifics like search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, affiliate marketing, and so on.

This approach can also be used to show off both technical know-how and softer leadership skills. Some even advocate for having a dedicated soft skills section on your resume.

You can also combine bullet points into a single section to better categorize skills. For example:

  • Software development (php, Javascript, CSS, HTML, Ruby)
  • Data Science (R, SQL, MySQL, Excel, Modeling)
  • Project Management (Agile, Scrum, Cost Management)

What goes into your resume skills section?

A good resume skills section shows the hiring company that you possess the exact skills and experience needed to excel at the job. That means the skills you write into your resume need to be aligned with what the company wrote into their job description. Study the job description and pick out keywords and phrases that seem most important to them. Work these words right into your resume (when applicable).

Jobscan is a resume optimization tool that automates this process. You just upload your resume and paste in the job listing to receive an instant comparison of which hard and soft skills are missing from your resume.

Use the prioritized skills list to create a perfect resume skills section for recruiters and applicant tracking systems.

The Hard Skills section of the Jobscan Match Report shows exactly which skills are missing from your resume skills section.

Make sure your resume skills section is ATS-optimized.

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