/ Resume Writing

Resume Skills Section: The Complete 2018 Guide with 100+ Examples of Skills for Resume

It’s quite rare that you find someone who would willingly sit down to start working on their resume.

It’s only when you are neck-deep in rejection emails, or worse, no emails, after weeks and months of relentlessly sending your CV anywhere and everywhere do you finally sit down with a groan.

It’s only when you have no other option in sight do you take a deep sigh and then wonder what else can you possibly do to spice up your resume.

Ring a bell, doesn’t it?

What if we tell you that our guide to writing skills for resume will help you avoid that whole cycle? What if we tell you that working on resume skills before you eventually face that barrage of rejection emails will help you avoid that devastating fate altogether?

Sounds too good to be true? It is.

We’ll give you a detailed list of skills to put on resume that will get you those shortlists you so rightfully deserve. We’ll follow it up with resume skills examples for various broad-level industries. Writing skills for a resume shouldn’t be an arduous task anymore!

Why have Skills for resume in the first place?

The reason why most people groan and sigh and would rather go on a date with their ex than update their resume is that they can’t break down what ‘updating the resume’ actually entails.

Isn’t just updating your work profiles with everything you’ve ever done, ranging from convening high-level meetings to preparing that obscure report that no one bothered to read, enough, you ask?

Um, no. It isn’t. And no, don't do that.

If I am an HR with hundreds and thousands of resumes with only work profiles in them to go for, it’s going to a veritable nightmare for me, isn’t it? And if it’s one thing HRs know how to do, it’s to make their job easier.

Enter the skills for resume. A summary of all broad-level skills you’ve acquired in your career to date. These resume skills are then processed through an ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) where the candidates with the highest scores are shortlisted. The rankings are assigned based on how relevant your resume is with respect to the job you’re applying for.

In other words, your ATS score depends on how closely you managed to align your resume with the Job Description. You can’t change your roles and responsibilities in your work profiles to suit the job you are targeting. Not only is that a skill we’d highly recommend you leave to the experts (erm, us), but any HR worth his/her salt can figure out in an instant if a resume is genuine or if it has been stuffed with keywords.

But your task is not to get past the ATS. It’s to get past the human recruiter who’s operating the machine.

Since your work profiles will more or less remain what they were, a relevant and targeted Resume Skills section is what helps you bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

2. What are Resume Skills...and what they are not?

Skills for resume are skills, they are not personality traits. Many people get confused between the two and end up missing the mark by a mile.

‘Organizational skill’, on the face of it, is a skill, but if I’m an HR looking to shortlist a few dozen relevant applicants from more than a thousand, I am not going to filter them using ‘organizational skill’. I will use something more relevant to the job profile. Unless, of course, the job itself is that of receptionist or entry-level admin, in which case, go for it. But for 99% of the other profiles, you’ll be better suited to reserve something like that for the end.

Same goes for ‘hardworking’, ‘highly motivated’, ‘sociable’, etc.

They are personality traits which should be at the bottom-most rung of the priority ladder for your resume. To provide an example for clearing all doubts, following are instances of personality traits according to Monster.com. There's no need to go to the other extreme end and avoid them altogether, but gaining an understanding of the difference between these traits and actual professional resume skills will go a long way in optimizing your CV.

Articulate: I can express myself well in front of groups.
Autonomous: I use initiative.
Calm: I stay levelheaded in a crisis.
Charismatic: I can be a leader when need be.
Cheerful: I develop a positive work environment.
Competitive: I thrive under pressure.
Confident: I am not afraid to ask questions.
Cooperative: I get along well in a team setting.
Courteous: I care about workplace atmosphere.
Creative: I think outside the box.
Curiosity: I am eager to learn.
Determined: I am self-motivated.
Devoted: I am committed to the company’s success.
Diligent: I always work my hardest.
Easygoing: I easily adapt to new situations.
Efficient: I have very quick turnover time.
Eloquent: I have strong communication skills.
Energetic: I am able to work long and hard hours.
Enthusiastic: I put my all into every project.
Flexible: I am able to adapt my priorities.
Focused: I am goal-oriented.
Friendly: I am easy to work with.
Honest: I value integrity.
Imaginative: I am inventive in my work process.
Independent: I need little direction.
Inquisitive: I am excellent at gathering information.
Insightful: I can read between the lines.
Intuitive: I can sense when there is a problem.
Meticulous: I pay attention to the small details.
Neurotic: I am a perfectionist.
Open-minded: I take constructive criticism well.
Opinionated: I am comfortable voicing opinions.
Organized: I am a meticulous planner.
Patient: I am not easily ruffled.
Perceptive: I can read people effortlessly.
Persuasive: I am a natural salesperson.
Resourceful: I use every tool at hand.
Technological: I am industrially savvy.

And the following are a few examples of professional skills for resume of a Software Developer and Database Management Professional which should be prioritized over personality traits.

• Application/Product Development
• Requirements Analysis
• Strategy & Business Planning
• Software Development Lifecycle
• Project Scheduling & Management
• Service-Oriented Architecture
• Testing, QA & Research
• Client Relationship Management
• Team Building & Leadership

Show, don’t tell

You know what’s better than listing out a dozen odd skills, however relevant they might to the job profile?

Demonstrating that you possess them.

Instead of adding ‘leadership’ to your skills like a robot who has been programmed to do so, elaborate on your leadership skills. Show how you led teams, resolved conflicts, handled inner team dynamics, managed a bunch of internal and external stakeholders, motivated personnel and subordinates...that’s the stuff leaders are made of, not a ‘leadership’ point in their resume skills section.

Instead of adding 'negotiation’, show how your negotiation skills helped you secure better deals. Quantify that if you can, and that’s going to give you 10x more dividend than merely adding the appropriate keyword.

Remember, it’s not the ATS which is your nemesis. It’s just a machine at the end of the day, operated by a human. It’s the recruiter you want to look appealing to, and that’s how you do it.

Dividing Resume skills into subsections

One problem that we routinely see with senior professionals having 10+ years of experience is the Skills resume section.

Either it will be missing altogether, or they’ll reserve an entire page (we are not kidding) for them. The result is a big boring wall of text which might get past an ATS but which the recruiter will not spare a second on.

The problem is acuter in resumes of IT professionals where they not only have to showcase their managerial/project management skills but also their technical proficiency.

It helps if you are able to neatly divide your entire list of key skills into relevant subsections. An example will better demonstrate what we mean. Down below you'll see a myriad of key skills all grouped together which, as you'll notice, does not make much sense.

• Project Management & Monitoring • Team Mentoring & Management • ANSI/ASME/DIN/ASTM/API/ISO • Project Scale-up • Castings, Forgings & Welding • Product Innovation/Differentiation • Equipment Trials & Development • Costing & Estimation • Cost Benefit Analysis • Cross-functional Coordination • SPMs, Machining & Heat Treatment • Proposals & Documentation • Engineering Design & Analysis • Technical Documentation • Design Formulation & Optimization • Prototype Development • Machine Layouts and Assembly • Equipment and Fixture Design • Global Regulatory Compliance • Performance Optimization • Conveying Systems/Jigs & Fixtures • Pneumatics & Hydraulics • Risk Assessment & Management • DOE, DFSS, DMIAC, DVP&R & VAVE • R&D and Innovation • NPD & VI Projects • Project Commissioning & Launch

And here are the same set of skills grouped under a relevant heading, making them much easier to quickly scan for relevance.

• Project Management & Monitoring • Team Mentoring & Management • Global Regulatory Compliance
• Project Scale-up • Product Innovation/Differentiation • Equipment Trials & Development
• Project Commissioning & Launch • Risk Assessment & Management • Cost Benefit Analysis
• Cross-functional Coordination • Proposals & Documentation •Performance Optimization

• Engineering Design & Analysis • Technical Documentation • Design Formulation & Optimization
• Prototype Development • Machine Layouts and Assembly • Equipment and Fixture Design
• Conveying Systems/Jigs & Fixtures • SPMs, Machining & Heat Treatment • Castings, Forgings & Welding
• Pneumatics & Hydraulics • Costing & Estimation • DOE, DFSS, DMIAC, DVP&R & VAVE
• ANSI/ASME/DIN/ASTM/API/ISO • R&D and Innovation • NPD & VI Projects

You’re not changing the volume of your resume skills, but only the way it’s presented on paper. That’s how you optimize your resume in general and the skills for resume section in particular, for both the machine and the person behind the machine.

How you divide the key skills into subsections depends on the industry you are in and the norms which are conventionally followed. IT Professionals can usually classify their extensive range of key skills into various groupings like Tools, Operating System, Methodologies, Database, etc.

The example below will clear that right out. First you'll find a list of IT resume skills all bunched together.

Oracle 11g/12c, MySQL, DBCA, OEM, TOAD, Expdp/Impdp, Tkprof, Statspack, SQLPlus, Elastic Map Reduces, Asp.NET, Window 8.1, AWR/AWS, RAC, Word, Amazon EC2/EBS/VPC, Linux (Red Hat 5/6), Ansible, Simple Storage Service, Amazon Machine Images, GIT, SQL, PPT, UNIX, OOPS Concept, C#.Net, RAC/RMAN, Windows NT/2000, SVN, Excel, etc.

A Generalist HR browsing through the same might be impressed, but it sure as hell won't serve him/her any purpose. This might though:

DB/RDBMS: SQLPlus, Oracle 11g/12c, MySQL, DBCA, OEM, RAC/RMAN, TOAD, Expdp/Impdp, Tkprof, Statspack, AWR/AWS, RAC
Cloud: Amazon EC2/EBS/VPC, Simple Storage Service, Amazon Machine Images, Elastic Map Reduces, Ansible
Languages: SQL, UNIX, OOPS Concept, Asp.NET, C#.Net
OS & Misc.: Windows NT/2000, Linux (Red Hat 5/6), Window 8.1, SVN, GIT, Word, PPT, Excel, etc.

Here you have the same bunch of IT skills grouped under relevant sub-headings which makes going through them a breeze. Even a Generalist HR can make sense of the same and understand what all broad-level domains you are familiar with.

Other professionals like Graphic Designers or Marketing Executives can have different groupings based on their area of expertise and the tools which are deployed. The idea is to balance the volume of resume skills with basic presentation and organization.

Hard skills and soft skills in a resume

We’ve seen ‘resume experts’ brush aside the relevance of soft skills. True, between the two, it’s obvious that hard skills should take priority. But what most people often forget is that at the end of the day, you are a distinct individual with your own set of competencies and intricacies.

You are not a money-making machine for the organization but a significant value-addition who will be spending a third of your day (maybe more) with other like-minded people.

Any job will entail a healthy mix of both hard skills and soft skills, with a bit of emphasis on the former. Hard skills will demonstrate how you are fit for the job, while soft skills will prove how well of a team member you’ll prove to be.

Contrary to popular belief, hard skills are not those which are tough to master. They are just the set of skills which are most relevant to the job you are targeting. A Project Manager will have a different set of hard skills as compared to a Data Analyst.

Here’s an example of some skills for resume of a senior-level Sales & Distribution professional

• New Business Development
• P&L Management
• Strategic Planning
• Operations Management
• Key Account Management
• Turnaround & High-Growth Strategies
• Customer Relationship Management
• Staff Training & Development
• Contract Negotiation
• Budgeting & Forecasting

And a few resume skills of a C-level banking executive

• Corporate Credit Management
• Strategic Alliances & Partnership
• Regulatory & Statutory Compliance
• Strategic Planning & Leadership
• End-to-end Auditing & Inspection
• Client Relationship Management
• Policy Formulation & QA
• Performance Optimization
• Project Delivery & NPL Management
• Team Building & Management
• Budgeting & Cost Management
• Stakeholder Management & Negotiation

To sum up, Hard skills will be easier to demonstrate and quantify.

A quick shortcut for immediately finding out the relevant hard skills for resume of your targeted profile would be to put the Job Description through one of these. They are simple online tools which generate a jazzy word cloud based on the frequency of words in a text. Pasting the JD in here will give you a list of the words which are most frequently used. And you can bet your bottom dollar that HRs won’t waste prime real estate in a JD on frivolous words - 90% or more of those frequently used words would be hard skills which you can easily incorporate in your resume (provided you’re aware of it of course!)

Soft skills, on the other hand, are harder to demonstrate and quantify.

Instead of rambling on with unnecessary keywords, you can target the JD for more targeted soft skills. Think of them along the lines of ‘social’ or ‘people-based’ skills which would help showcase your ability to work in a team. The ‘show, don’t tell’ rule applies to the highest degree in this case. Instead of throwing around random soft skills, you can substantiate them in your work profiles.

Skills on a functional & chronological resume

How would the presentation of skills for resume differ from a chronological resume to a functional-based one?

Functional resumes, by definition, revolve around functions and key skills. While our guide on resume layout talks about the difference between the two in greater detail, for our purpose here, a functional resume will prioritize key skills over the actual work profile.

The idea is to present your versatility with skills across all profiles in a single place, while also covering gaps in employment, for instance, or masking contract-based and ad-hoc profiles under the garb of relevant functions.

To cut the long story short, a functional resume will extensively elaborate on all the key skills you possess, while additionally highlighting instances across your different work profiles wherein you personified those skills. Here’s a resume skills example in a functional resume:


A chronological resume, on the other hand, will prioritize skills based on targeted keywords, while leaving the scope to substantiate the same to your relevant work profile instead.

The priority here will be the actual work profile you held and the responsibilities you discharged in that tenure. It's up to you to rephrase your achievements in a way which showcases the points as an organic extension of the skills you possess.
Here's an example of the resume skills in a chronological resume, and the work profile below which substantiates those skills.


You'll notice how the resume Skills above are substantiated through the points in the work profiles below. The 'buckets' or sub-headings in each work ex are directly linked with the resume Skills section, thus bringing an unparalleled level of coherence which any HR will gladly lap it up. Can't blame them though - the sheer volume of poor-quality resumes that they have to see on a daily basis...and when you place something like this in front of them, tell us why o' why they won't call you?!

Quantifiable, relevant skills vs generic, random skills

So you have scanned the JD and are done with your keywords research. You have the entire list of all relevant skills for resume. What do you do now? Do you just dump everything on your resume and expect the magic to work?

Well, no.

How you phrase those skills for resume is a delicate matter which most people often skip by. We'll show you this through a bunch of examples, starting with relavance.

Demonstrated capability to knit a sweater in 2 hours flat

Contributed to 40+ open-source projects on Github
Keynote speaker at the Conference of Software Engineers '16

We often advise people to do some basic research on the organization which you are targeting by scanning their websites or social media pages. Unless the company of your choosing participates in national/international knitting competitions and has been a world knitting champion for years, there's no point in adding that as a key skill/hobby in your resume.

That's an example of choosing and prioritizing relevant resume skills over something that you just happen to possess.

[We deliberately chose an absurd example to drive home the point, but the truth remains. Most people can't seem to bridge the gap between what they have and what is required. Just because you are good at something is not enough reason to jump the gun and make space for it on your resume. You have to understand the relevance of the same as well.

But there's a flip side to it. Say you are an amateur tennis player who played a bit in college, but it's been years now and you no longer even think about it, let alone putting it on your resume. But while browsing through the company's website, you notice that the company hosts tennis tournaments for leisure and even plays with other rival companies for a title. Suddenly your long-gone activity is now relevant. You can now go ahead and put the same on your resume in glowing letters.

Quantifiable Impact

So you've all the research neatly compiled from a dozen different sources and are now ready to flood your resume with the same.

But did you stop to wonder if you are the only one doing it? Don't you think that anyone with half a mind who is targeting the same profile that you are, also doing the same thing?

The research is open to anyone who has the time, inclination and intellect to do it. How then do you outperform the competition?

Two words. Quantifiable impact.

That's where the uniqueness and individual brilliance that marked your stint across different work profiles (c'mon now, don't be shy) comes to play. Anyone can say that they've been leaders, that they optimized processes, that they broke all sales records. But if you come out of nowhere as the shining star who not only has done all those things, but can also back that up, well then, the door's on the right for everyone else and you are in.

The reason we can say it with that confidence is because it is the final gamechanger. Almost no one bothers to quantify the impact of their achievements.

The truth is, you are never working in isolation. There are always a bunch of stakeholders involved (internal or external) who are a party to what you do. Your task is to identify those stakeholders and quantify the impact you were able to deliver to them.

That will instantly magnify your profile from someone who just did what they were told, to someone who's a goal-seeking professional actively coordinating with multiple stakeholders to drive major impact across key areas.

And bam! You are in and everyone else is shown the door.

It's that easy. Or that hard. Here's an example to further drive home this point.

Led a team to oversee B2B and B2C sales across NYC

Led a team of 15 Sales Executives to champion USD 4M in B2C sales
Forged strategic alliances with 15+ organizations to generate a pipeline of USD 200M+ as part of B2B

mic drop

Where to put the skills on a resume?

Maybe we should have tackled this earlier, but oh well. The strongest and choicest of key skills will lose their impact if they are not placed with proper context, and in a way which makes them truly shine.

Where you place your resume skills also depends on whether it's a chronological or a functional resume.

In a chronological resume for instance, our advise would be to have the Skills in resume right below the Professional Summary section (which should always be on top).

The idea is to have the recruiter look at the summary first, get a broad-level understanding of who you are as a professional, and then scan the keywords (or Key Skills) to quickly gauge your relevance and suitability w.r.t to the job vacancy.
In case at the first glance, your resume looks appropriate, the recruiter can then follow it up with your work profiles where, surprise surprise, you have those very resume skills substantiated beautifully with concrete cause-effect relationship and the Princeton formula in each point. In less than a minute, the recruiter knows that s/he has to see you in person.

There. Sales people like to call it ‘closed’.

We’ve seen resumes where people placed the skills for resume in the end, right above the Education or Certification section for instance, almost as an afterthought. If they knew that a major probability of getting a shortlist rests on this single section, they probably would courier it separately to the recruiter in addition to emailing the resume. But you can avoid that in case you just place it above your professional experience where it can be easily scanned for relevance and suitability.

For functional resumes which revolve around resume skills, more than half of your resume will consist of just that. So the dilemma of where to place this section might not be that severe in this case.

Sample Skills for Resume: 10+ Profiles & Industries

Business Analyst Resume Skills

• Systems Integration
• Data Analysis & Forecasting
• Enterprise Business Solutions
• Delivering Presentations
• Business and Industrial Research
• Client Relationship Management
• Quality Assurance
• Orientation & Training
• Reports & Documentation
• Business Communication
• Financial Modeling & Analytics
• Event Management

Sales & Business Development Resume Skills

• Key Account Management
• Sales & Business Development
• Team Management & Leadership
• Partnerships & Strategic Alliances
• Client Relationship Management
• Product Development & Promotion
• Training & Mentoring
• Stakeholder Management
• Budgeting & Cost Management
• Negotiation & Portfolio Management

Project Management Professional Resume Skills

• Project Planning & Execution
• PMI Project Methodologies
• Cross-functional Team Management
• Lifecycle Development
• Project Estimation & Costing
• Systems Integration
• Quality Assurance & Control
• Client Relationship Management
• Key Account Management
• Data Analysis & Forecasting
• Program Monitoring & Control
• Project Commissioning & Launch
• Process Optimization & Cost Control

Finance Graduate Resume Skills

• Data Analysis & Forecasting
• Reports & Documentation
• Communication & Negotiation
• Taxation & Accounting Principles
• Business & Market Research
• Project Execution & Delivery
• Event Management
• Primary & Secondary Research
• Liaison & Coordination
• Business Valuation Methodologies
• Internal & Statutory Compliance
• Stakeholder Management

Telecom Network Optimization Specialist Resume Skills

• KPI Management & Optimization
• Issue Resolution
• Remote Delivery
• Multi-vendor/Stakeholder Management
• Pre/Post Launch RF Optimization
• Quality Assurance & Management
• Audits & Network Tuning
• Resource Management & Cost Control
• Project Management & Delivery
• Radio Network Performance Management
• Data Services Optimization
• Leadership & Team Management
• Client/Customer Relationship Management

HR Professional & Recruitment Specialist Resume Skills

• Leadership Hiring
• Lateral & Campus Recruitment
• HR Strategy & Planning
• Team Mentoring & Coaching
• Alumni Relations
• Training & Development
• HR Policy Design & Execution
• Employee Relations & Inclusion
• Field & Corporate Office Collaboration
• Team Building & Management
• Coordination & Negotiation
• Internal & Statutory Compliance

Technical Account Specialist Resume Skills

• Training & Mentoring
• Customer Relationship Management
• Research and Analysis
• Technical Support
• Product Development
• Quality Control Management
• Technical Sales
• Client Acquisition
• Workflow Optimization
• Tableau
• Automation
• Instrumentation Management

Business Support Officer Resume Skills

• Coordination & Liaison
• Project Planning & Documentation
• Team Management & Leadership
• Process Reengineering & Optimization
• Data Analysis & Forecasting
• Client Relationship Management
• Project Management & Delivery
• Quality Control & Compliance
• Stakeholder Management & Negotiation
• Operations Research & Communication
• Industrial Engineering & Management
• Budgeting & Cost Management

Sales & Marketing Head Resume Skills

• Portfolio Management
• Business Intelligence
• Process Optimization & Product Management
• Strategic Planning
• Product Launches & Promotion
• Marketing & Brand Management
• Cross-functional Team Leadership
• Client Relationship Management
• ROI/Revenue Maximization
• Sales & Business Development
• Training & Mentoring
• Strategic Alliances & Partnerships

Data Analyst & Management Consultant Resume Skills

• Data Science (R, SAS & Tableau)
• Documentation & Reporting
• Process Optimization
• Data Analysis & Visualization
• Design Engineering & Consultancy
• Client Relationship Management
• Vendor Management & Liaison
• Market Research & Strategy
• Project Management & Execution
• Team Management & Leadership
• Budgeting & Cost Management
• Quality Control & Compliance

Legal Associate Resume Skills

• Review of Agreements
• Infrastructure, Energy & Insurance
• Competition Law
• Constitutional Law
• Contract Negotiation
• Drafting & Research
• Briefings & Legal Opinions
• Due Diligence
• Dispute Settlement
• Arbitration
• Team Management

Fashion Designer & Product Head Resume Skills

• Market Movements & Analysis
• Creative & Trend-based Design
• End-to-end Product Development
• Fabric Sourcing & Selection
• Cost Management & Negotiation
• Marketing/Sales Support
• Apparel & Embroidery Design
• Client Relationship Management
• Quality Assurance & Control
• Team Management & Leadership

And that's about it for now. Feel like we missed out your choice of resume skills? Give us a shout out in the comments and we'd be happy to help!