According to LinkedIn, skills are the new currency of the job market. In fact, one in five jobs posted on LinkedIn no longer requires a four-year degree. This is expected to grow as companies are moving beyond degrees and job titles to focus more on skills for a job. 

With the evolving nature of work and the pace of technological change, what you learned from your degree might no longer be applicable or relevant to the job in the future. So, you need to develop the right skills employers want and showcase these skills on your resume to prove to recruiters that you are the best fit for the job.

In this guide, you will learn what skills employers want, how you can develop these skills, and how you can showcase them on your application.

Table of Contents

What are the different types of skills?

There are generally two types of skills: hard skills and soft skills.

1. Hard skills

Hard skills are specific skills often learned in school and acquired through training, certifications, or work experience. 

Examples of hard skills include data analytics, project management, accounting, search engine optimization, and other technical skills in different fields and industries.

2. Soft skills

Soft skills, also known as interpersonal skills or people skills, are what you use to interact and relate with other people. 

Soft skills include communication, problem-solving, collaboration, and leadership.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills (also called portable skills or universal skills) are a subset of soft skills. These are skills that you can apply or transfer across different jobs, fields, and industries.

Having transferable skills can make you a valuable asset to any company or organization. These include time management, organizational skills, and communication.

Top 10 hard skills employers look for

Employers value hard skills because they directly contribute to the specific requirements for a job. 

Although the hard skills employers want vary across industries and sectors, here are the top 10 hard skills that are in high demand.

1. Digital Literacy

Digital literacy includes knowing how to use software, devices, and online tools. A report says that it is a top skill required for employees to thrive in the workplace by 2025.

Because many companies will adopt technology, you should improve your digital skills to stay relevant.

Examples of digital literacy skills

  • Email management
  • Internet browsing and online research
  • Social media usage
  • Digital communication (e.g., chat tools, video conferencing)
  • Basic photo and image editing
  • Cloud storage and file sharing
  • Word processing

2. Data analysis

Data analysis means organizing and looking at data to solve problems for a company. If you’re good at this, you can find patterns in data and use that information to help the company reach its goals.

Since companies are using data to make decisions, the field of data analysis has become really big.

Examples of data analysis skills

  • Understanding charts and graphs
  • Recognizing patterns in data
  • Basic statistical analysis
  • Data visualization understanding
  • Interpretation of key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Research skills

Read our full skills guide: Data Analyst Skills

3. Product management

Product management skills help make products people want. It involves everything from ideation, planning, and launching the product to making sure it’s what customers want. Companies that are good at this are much more likely to do better than their rivals.

Examples of project management skills

  • Requirement gathering and analysis
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Minimum viable product (MVP) development
  • Pricing strategy development
  • User experience (UX) design

Read our full skills guide: Product Manager Skills

4. Customer service

Customer service skills are the qualities you use to interact with customers, provide them assistance, and give them an exceptional experience to foster long-term relationships. These skills can make or break a company. In fact, 61 percent of consumers will switch to another company after just one bad experience.

Examples of customer service skills

  • Conflict resolution
  • Attention to detail
  • Sales skills
  • Cash handling and math skills
  • Product knowledge

Read our full guide: 10 Customer Service Skills You Need on Your Resume in 2023

5. Project management skills

Project management involves planning, organizing, budgeting, controlling, and executing projects to meet company objectives. The Project Management Institute (PMI) projected that between 2017 and 2027, jobs demanding project management skills will increase by 33%.

Examples of project management skills

  • Planning, scheduling, and executing projects
  • Task delegation
  • Budget management and forecasting
  • Quality assurance
  • Risk management

6. Finance skills

Finance skills include the ability to analyze, understand, manage, and interpret financial information to arrive at effective decisions to contribute towards an organization’s success. According to Business Talent Group, finance skills top the list of most in-demand skills for 2023.

Examples of finance skills

  • Financial analysis and reporting
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Risk management
  • Cash flow management
  • Knowledge of accounting principles and regulatory compliance

Read our full skills guide: Financial Analyst Skills

7. Sales

Sales skills include the individual’s abilities to persuade customers, negotiate, and close deals. Sales skills directly impact revenue and business success, and so they continue to be an in-demand skill across different industries.

Examples of sales skills

  • Closing deals
  • Building customer relationships
  • Product knowledge
  • Negotiation skills
  • Market research and understanding

8. Operations skills

Operations management skills continue to be a sought-after skill in various industries. These skills are critical to properly allocating company resources, streamlining and improving systems, reducing waste, addressing challenges, and ensuring efficiency and effectiveness. 

Examples of operations skills

  • Supply chain management
  • Inventory control
  • Quality assurance
  • Resource allocation and management
  • Process improvement

Read our full skills guide: Operations Manager Skills

9. Design skills

Design skills are used to conceptualize, create, and solve problems through visuals and other creative means. These skills are used to enhance and improve products, processes, services, and even user experience.

Examples of design skills

  • Visual communication
  • Typography and color theory
  • Graphic design
  • User experience (UX) design
  • Layout and composition

Read our full skills guide: Graphic Design Skills

10. Software development

Software development skills involve creating and designing computer applications and programs and adopting technological solutions. With the rapid pace of technological advancements such as AI and machine learning, the demand for software development skills will grow by 22% from 2020 to 2030.

Examples of software development skills

  • Programming languages
  • Web development
  • Database management
  • Testing and debugging
  • Agile methodologies

Read our full skills guide: Software Engineer Skills

Top 10 soft skills employers want

While hard skills are important to an organization’s success, employers increasingly value soft skills during the hiring process. A report by Deloitte showed that by 2030, two-thirds of all jobs will be soft-skill intensive. 

Here are the 10 examples of soft skills employers look for in a job candidate.

1. Communication

These encompass an individual’s ability to give information clearly and effectively in the workplace. Studies show that companies that practice effective communication are 3.5  times more likely to beat their competitors.  

Examples of communication skills

  • Constructive feedback delivery
  • Clarity in email correspondence and any written communication
  • Active listening during meetings and discussions
  • Effective presentation of information
  • Conflict resolution conversations

Read our full guide: The Top 5 Communication Skills To Include On Your Resume

2. Leadership

Leadership skills enable you to effectively motivate and inspire a group of people toward a common goal. Effective leadership in a company directly impacts its growth and success. About 83 percent of enterprises believe that it’s critical to develop leaders across all levels in a company.

Examples of leadership skills

  • Taking initiative
  • Mentorship and coaching
  • Problem-solving and decision-making
  • Team building and fostering a collaborative environment
  • Conflict resolution

Read our full guide: Leadership Skills You Need to Include On Your Resume That Employers Actually Look For

3. Collaboration

Collaboration skills are used when working with different individuals and teams and sharing ideas to solve shared problems or achieve common goals. Organizations encouraging collaboration are five times more likely to increase performance and productivity.

Examples of collaboration skills

  • Cross-functional team projects
  • Virtual collaboration
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Joint decision making
  • Shared responsibility and task allocation

4. Critical thinking

Critical thinking skills include the ability to conceptualize, analyze, evaluate, and arrive at effective solutions to solve problems and make sound decisions. People with critical thinking skills can assess information, weigh options, make judgments, and innovate.

Examples of critical thinking skills

  • Analytical reasoning
  • Data interpretation
  • Problem identification
  • Innovative thinking
  • Strategic planning

Read our full guide: 6 Critical Thinking Skills to Supercharge Your Resume

5. Problem-solving

Problem-solving is the ability to determine which issues to solve, assess the root cause of the issues, brainstorm possible courses of action, and identify the most effective solutions. It is one of the top skills that will grow in importance in the next five years.

Examples of problem solving skills

  • Research 
  • Pattern recognition
  • Gathering accurate information 
  • Analyzing situations based on facts
  • Optimizing existing processes and systems

Read our full guide: The Top 5 Problem-Solving Skills Employers Want In 2023

Top 10 soft skills for a job employers want

6. Time management

Time management skills refer to your ability to plan and organize your day to allocate time effectively to tasks of varying priority. Time management in the workplace is critical to increasing productivity, preventing delays and inefficiencies, improving performance, and reducing stress.

Examples of time management skills

  • Setting clear goals and prioritizing tasks
  • Time blocking
  • Delegating tasks
  • Setting realistic deadlines
  • Knowledge of time management tools

Read our full guide: 7 Time Management Skills You Should Include on Your Resume

7. Adaptability

Adaptability allows you to adjust and cope in times of changes, delays, and detours. It is the ability to change strategies when needed as new situations and conditions arise. 

Adaptability skills are important in the workplace because of the rapidly changing technological environment and the changing business dynamics. 

Employees who have adaptability can navigate through uncertain situations, pivot when needed, and foster resilience.

Examples of adaptability skills

  • Learning new software and technologies
  • Taking on new tasks and challenges
  • Remote work adaptation
  • Adjusting to new processes and systems
  • Changing priorities and pivoting

8. Organizational skills

Organizational skills are the abilities you use to manage time effectively, prioritize tasks, set goals, and develop systems for achieving those goals. Employees with good organizational skills can juggle multiple responsibilities simultaneously, stay focused on deadlines, and handle complex projects efficiently.

Examples of organizational skills

  • Multitasking and time management
  • Project planning
  • File and document organization
  • Workflow coordination
  • Resource allocation

Read our full guide: The Top 10 Organizational Skills To Put On Your Resume in 2023

9. Creativity

Creativity in the workplace is the act of identifying new ways to do tasks and transforming new ideas into reality. People with creativity skills help cultivate an environment that innovates and generates new ways of doing things. 94 percent of hiring managers say that they evaluate a job candidate based on creativity.

Examples of creativity skills

  • Out-of-the-box thinking
  • Innovation
  • Visualization and design thinking
  • Continuous learning and curiosity
  • Combining ideas across different disciplines

10. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your emotions and understand the emotions of other people. TalentSmart reported that 90% of high performers in the workplace have high emotional intelligence and foster better relationships within the organization, directly contributing to overall success.

Examples of emotional intelligence skills

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Active listening
  • Conflict resolution
  • Stress management

How recruiters look for skills

Recruiters use different ways to identify and evaluate job candidates based on their skills. Understanding how recruiters search for skills will help you showcase your skills on your application and stand out.

Here are three ways they do it:

1. Skills-based assessments

According to a report, 76% of employers use skills-based hiring to find new hires, and 55% use role-specific skills tests. These help recruiters assess whether your actual capabilities match what’s on your resume.

These tests could include code-writing, case studies for leadership and problem-solving skills, and situational tests.

2. Behavioral interviews

Recruiters may also use behavioral interviews to assess whether you have the right skills and competencies required for the job. They do this by asking questions about how you will deal with certain workplace situations and how you have applied skills in real-life situations.

3. Keyword searches and applicant tracking systems

To automate screening applicants, recruiters also use applicant tracking systems. These systems filter resumes by keywords provided by recruiters and hiring managers.

Keywords can include the following:

  • Job titles
  • Industry-specific jargon
  • Relevant skills

The ATS uses these keywords to find the best matches for the job. If your resume doesn’t have these keywords, it might not be seen by recruiters.

Jobscan’s resume scanner helps match your resume to the job and gives you important words to add.

You just have to upload a copy of your resume into the scanner and paste the job description of the position you are applying for.

Jobscan will then give you a score of how well-matched your resume is to the job.

Here’s what it looks like:

Example of Jobscan's Power Edit resume score and suggested keywords.

You can increase your resume score by adding the keywords listed (“answering phones,” “electronic health records,” and “maintain confidentiality.”)

Jobscan will also give you a list of other suggestions to strengthen your application and optimize your resume for the ATS. This saves you time and helps you get noticed by recruiters.

4 steps on how to demonstrate skills on a resume

To position yourself as the best job candidate, you need to showcase your skills on your resume and prove to recruiters that you are fit for the job. 

Here’s how you do it in four simple steps.

1. Study the job description

Read the job description of the position you are applying for. Take note of the hard skills, soft skills, and qualifications required for the role and see if you have those skills. 

Here’s an example of a job description for a content writer.

Content writer job description

2. Identify target skills and keywords

Take note of the relevant skills, especially the hard skills and those that are mentioned frequently in the job description. Also, take note of important keywords that recruiters might search for in the ATS.

From the example above, here are the hard and soft skills required for the job.

Content writer job description with target skills

3. List your skills and measurable accomplishments

Take stock of the best skills that you have, especially those that are relevant to the job and industry. 

Also, list your top resume accomplishments and explain how you used certain skills to achieve those. 

See if your skills and accomplishments match those required for the job, then work them into your resume. 

You can either incorporate the skills into your work experience section or create a designated skills section on your resume.

Here’s what it would look like:

Content writer sample key skills section

4. Tailor your resume to the job

Make sure you tailor your resume to the job you are applying for, especially when applying to multiple jobs. Remember, the goal is to highlight your key relevant skills and how you’ve used them in your previous roles.

Tailoring your resume is time-consuming, and so using Jobscan can make it much quicker and easier.

Jobscan’s resume scanner gives you a comprehensive list of skills you need on your resume to best match the requirements of the job you are applying for. 

It also gives you tips on improving your resume to increase your chances of landing job interviews.

In just three simple steps, the resume scanner outlines the specific skills you need to incorporate in your resume to stand out to recruiters. 

Step 1. Upload your resume into the tool.

Step 2. Upload the job description.

Step 3. Wait for the report and go through the suggested steps and edits.

Make your resume stand out and get noticed

Upload your resume to see what’s missing and get a free match rate.

View full results and optimize your resume

Where to highlight skills on your resume

Here are three key sections where you can highlight your skills and qualifications.

1. Resume summary

The resume summary provides recruiters and hiring managers a snapshot of what you can bring to the table. This includes your expertise and specific accomplishments. 

This can be a great place to include relevant skills and prove to recruiters that you have what it takes to do the job well.

Here’s an example:

Skills for a job on resume summary section

2. Work experience

Your work experience section outlines your previous roles and the things you have accomplished while in those roles. This section is also a great place to showcase your skills. Instead of just listing your skills, you can explain how you used those skills and what you accomplished through those skills.

Here’s an example:

Skills for a job on work experience section

3. Dedicated resume skills section

You can also have a separate skills section to outline all your skills. 

Here’s an example of what that looks like.

Resume skills section sample

What skills to include on your resume

Here are four tips on how to decide which skills to showcase on your resume:

  1. Include only the skills relevant to the job. You can identify these key skills by carefully studying the resume and noting what the job requires.
  2. Incorporate skills that are relevant to the industry. You can do your own research and find out which skills are needed to thrive in the field you are interested in.
  3. When applying to more than one job, make sure to tailor the skills you add to each of your applications.
  4. Try scanning your resume into Jobscan and see the top skills you should include in your resume to increase your chances of getting noticed by recruiters.

How to demonstrate skills on your cover letter

Here are three tips on how to showcase your skills on your cover letter effectively.

  1. Read the job description and identify the skills and qualifications needed for the job.  Assess whether your skills and experience align with what the employer is seeking.
  2. Use concrete examples of how you used the relevant skills in your previous roles and the impact you have achieved. 

    For example, if you talk about leadership skills, you can share a brief story of how you led four different departments to create a new product line in your company that directly contributed to a 5% increase in sales.
  1. Don’t just focus on hard skills but also highlight your soft skills. Explain why you are passionate about the field and how your values align with the company’s values. 

    You can also demonstrate how your skills make you a great fit for the company and its culture.

How do you develop and upgrade your skills?

To make sure your skills are up-to-date and you remain competitive in light of evolving industry trends and market demand, make sure you upgrade your skills and develop new ones that are in high demand.

Here’s how you can do that:

1. Enroll in online courses and get certifications

There are several platforms that offer relevant courses for skills development. Getting certifications and going through online courses show how committed you are to upgrading your skills to meet the changing demands of your industry.

2. Become a volunteer or apply for internships

Another effective way to gain new skills and grow in new areas as a professional is by volunteering at events or organizations or applying for an internship. These will help you gain practical and hands-on experience, which is valuable in expanding your professional skill set.

3. Seek mentorship

You can also actively look for mentors in your field and ask for your feedback. Mentors are helpful in providing guidance and advice as you work on improving your skills.

4. Have a growth mindset

Employers value individuals who take their professional development and learning seriously. To stay competitive, maintain a continuous learning mindset, and be proactive in looking for new learning opportunities.

Frequently asked questions

What skills are employers looking for?

Skills employers look for vary across jobs and industries. The best way to identify the key skills employers want is to study the job description and understand the requirements for the job.
However, there are some key transferable skills that are critical across differing industries. Here are some examples:
• Leadership skills
• Strong work ethic
• Verbal communication
• Critical thinking skills
• Problem-solving skills
• Analytical skills
• Technology skills
• Teamwork skills

What kind of skills should you include in your resume?

When writing your resume, you can include your key hard skills and your soft skills. Make sure that whatever skill you include in your resume is relevant to the position you are applying for.

How can you identify your skills?

There are so many ways to identify your skills. Here are some things you can do:
• Reflect on your past experiences and hobbies and identify the task you excelled at.
• Ask your closest friends, family, or colleagues and ask them for insights into your key strengths and areas of expertise.
• Look for online skills assessments and use these as a springboard to discovering your skills.
• Think back on your top achievements and key projects and see which skills you utilized to achieve those.

What’s the best way to list skills on a resume in 2023?

There are two main ways to showcase your skills on your resume.
1. You can demonstrate how you used certain skills to achieve a measurable result that created a positive impact in your previous company or organization.
2. You can also outline your key skills in a designated skills section on your resume.

More expert insights on this topic:

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