Is that “skills” section sitting blank on your resume, mocking you with its emptiness? It can be tough to figure out what your skills are and which ones to write down when you go to create your resume. It can feel like bragging or even exaggerating to write down your skills so don’t worry, it’s a little awkward for everyone. And what is the best way to pick which skills to include and which ones are irrelevant? Here’s an easy guide to get your skillset down, and maybe find some hidden skills you didn’t know you had!
Make Your List
1. How to identify your core skills
These are your base-level areas of expertise. You know how to do them backward and forward, which means you might even forget they are skills at all.
Check LinkedIn – Here’s one of the easiest ways to build your skills list. Go to your profile and scroll to the bottom where it lists your skills. Click to edit your skills then type in a general word like “write,” “design,” “code,” or something similar. Linked really helps you out here by suggesting skills that include those words. Building a list of your core skills just takes a few clicks.Go Through Your Resume – What words come up over and over again? If every project lists a few skills repeated throughout your project descriptions, those are probably your core skills. Write them down first on your skills section.
2. How to identify the skills you enjoy
Here’s the thing, if you’re selling yourself based on your skills, it’s better to sell the skills you actually like. I’m great at certain skills that I really don’t enjoy doing. If I put them front-and-center on my resume that’s what my potential boss will see, and that’s what they’re going to expect me to do. While we can’t love every piece of the work we end up doing, we can stack the odds in our favor by highlighting skills we like doing.
But how? Talk to a friend about some of the big work projects you have been involved in recently. You’re going to be more honest with them, and they’ll be able to ask good questions. Sort out the parts of the projects you nailed, and the pieces you thought were a nightmare. Write both down (because you have the skills even if you don’t like them) and feature the “like” list on your resume. Focusing on skills you enjoy can help you to find a job or project you like to do. Pay attention to the projects that you don’t mind doing, and figure out how to map those skills to future projects you accept.
3. How to identify the skills employers want
If you’re writing a resume for a specific job, then they’re probably going to want you to have specific skills. Luckily, most job posts have a “desired skills” section. First, don’t just copy/paste what they have. Instead, use it as a guide. You should change the wording or make your personal skill list more specific (job posting lists tend to be generic) so that your actual experience shines through.
Once you’ve identified the skills you have that directly map to the job posting’s desired skill section, dig deeper. Look through the actual description, employer website, and any field standard skills to figure out what to include. Often, these job descriptions are written by HR experts who are only given a high-level overview of what the job requires. Go above and beyond and figure out what skills you have that will give you a competitive edge.
Now that you have a decent list of skills, what are you going to do with them? Yes, I know you will write 5 or 10 of them on your resume, but there’s more work to be done! Look at your skills list, what do you notice? Are there patterns or skill groups that you didn’t expect to see? If certain skill groups catch your attention, then you may have just figured out a new career opportunity.
A lot of freelancers find themselves starting to work in fields that they never expected. One of the best parts of freelancing is you get to try things out through entry-level projects and tasks. If you see some skills on your resume that aren’t a prominent party of your daily work, think about what applications they might have. You can check out freelance job opportunities to see if there is actually money to be made in skills you have been taking for granted.
How do you develop your resume skills section? Do you focus more on tailoring it to the job description, or do you focus more on things you have the most experience in doing? Share your most helpful skill list building tips in the comments below and help other job seekers get hired!