Sharpen Your Skills

Articulating skills is an important facet in crafting the best resume. Employers want to know what you can bring to the table and a strong skills section can emphasize your best traits.

Before you sit down to compile your skills list, it is essential to understand the difference between two major skills categories: hard skills and soft skills.

First, let’s break down hard skills:

Hard skills are learned. Think of them as “book smarts”. Hard skills are essentially the prerequisites that qualify you for the job.

For example: if you are applying for an office job, listing your mastery of Microsoft Office programs is essential.

And now, soft skills:

Soft skills are not as quantifiable. They are more interpersonal and exhibit your “street smarts”. Being able to articulate that you work well under pressure and are a master of conflict resolution are examples of soft skills.

The job you are applying for dictates which type of skills are more valuable. If you are a computer programmer, it’s more important that you detail your ability to use relevant programs as opposed to how strong you can give a sales pitch. A salesperson’s ability to edit film is not relevant. Make adjustments to your skills for each individual job you apply for.

One easy way to customize your skills section for a specific job is to utilize the job description. If the job you are seeking says you need to be able to work within groups, include your willingness to work within groups. Job descriptions are likely chock-full of keywords that particular employer is looking for, so include them.

Also, do some online research and find resumes and profiles of people who hold similar jobs to the position you are applying for. Take appropriate notes and be sure to use the keywords you see sprinkled throughout various resumes.

Look at it this way: hard skills lead you to the job and soft skills allow you to keep the job. It’s essential to have some balance of both.

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