Knowing what to put on the “skills” section of your resume can sometimes feel like a top-secret code that only hiring managers have the answer to. How important is it to include your sort-of-intermediate-but-actually-very-basic French language skills? Does anyone actually care if you’re a “team player?” Should you simply litter the page with fancy buzzwords like “synergy” or “optimization” and then pray that no one ever actually asks you about them?
The truth is, every job opening is different, and so is the expertise required to land it. But if you want to get a foot in the door, here are some sought-after skills employers are always happy to see on your resume, regardless of job title.
Super Specific Communication Skills
Like I said, nobody cares that you’re a “team player.” But copywriting, digital writing, and other nitty gritty communication skills can give you an undeniable advantage, says Matthew Warzel, a professional resume writer and career coach.
Think about the forms of communication you’re a pro at. Maybe you rewrote a section of your company’s etiquette protocols to make it easier for employees to understand. Or you spent every morning editing all of your boss’s grammatical errors out of press releases. That’s valuable, Warzel says.
Customer management tools like Salesforce are great to have on a resume, but they’re not the only skills that prove you know how to handle peoples' needs.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve worked as a preschool teacher or an account manager, you’ve likely had to maintain expectations as the “face” of your employer.
“Whether you deal with customers, clients, or prospects, you are still representative of the company,” says Ron Auerbach, a career coach and author of Think Like An Interviewer. “The service you provide is reflective of how the company handles things.”
While I’m at it: You probably have some project management experience under your belt, too.
Maybe you supervised an intern for the summer, or hired a team of contract workers to rebuild the company’s warehouse. These are skills hiring managers want to hear about.
If you’re stuck, Warzel says to tally up your daily tasks and see how they fit together as a full-on project. “Most times, employees know they're doing a ‘project’ because it tends to be mentioned throughout the business the entire time they’re working on it,” he says.
Just because you don’t feel like a project manager doesn’t mean you’re not actively managing a project.
Social Media (Don’t Roll Your Eyes)
“Having a thorough understanding of each of the most popular social media apps will make you a good candidate for many positions out there,” says Peter Yang, the CEO of ResumeGo.
Does this mean you need to be a high-profile influencer with thousands of “followers?” Absolutely not. But knowing the basic functions of major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn signals to employers that you’re keeping up with changing forms of digital communication — especially if you’re not a millennial.
“It shows you are someone who's still constantly adapting and constantly evolving with the world around you, despite not being born during the digital era,” Yang says.
The best way to showcase your accomplishments is by giving numerical values to the work you’ve done.
“If you list tasks you've completed, it shows you're average,” says Stephanie Thoma, a networking strategy coach. “On the other hand, if you use hard stats like percentages that show you increased sales, you'll prove the value you can bring to the company.”
What if you have nothing measurable to show for your work? Or your previous responsibilities were more abstract?
“If you don’t have quantifiers then every line should be ‘how did I affect the bottom line?’” Warzel says.
For example, if you helped get everyone in your office onto an instant messaging tool like Slack or Google Hangouts, talk about how that increased workplace productivity. If you found an easier way for the accounting team to bill clients, you could say you “spearheaded a secure process for quick financial transactions.”
The best thing you can do is talk yourself up. And using strong, specific examples on your resume can be the difference between an interview and the trash can.