How to tailor your resume to showcase your strongest skills

Creating a resume to apply for jobs can be tricky.  You naturally want to include all of your education, experience, and skills, but these days you need to trim it down to compete with the mountain of online applicants for positions.  You also have to tailor your resume to the jobs you’re applying for.

It’s easy to trim down education and experience to what is most recent and relevant, but how do you determine which of your many skills to include in your resume?  It begins with understanding which skills are hard, which are soft, and which are most appealing to employers.  Here are a few differences between hard and soft skills every job seeker should be aware of.

Hard skills

The best way to explain hard skills is to say that they can be taught, they’re quantifiable, and they’re repeatable.  A good example of a hard skill is typing.  Just about anyone can learn to type and they can be tested to determine their average typing speed.  They can repeat the activity over and over with the same or better results after learning it.

When companies post job listings, you’ll often see a laundry list of hard skills under requirements for the position.  These could include proficiency with computer programs or machinery, as well as fluency in certain languages.  You may have to hold a specific college degree or certifications to qualify for a job.

Soft skills

Soft skills are much more difficult to quantify, and while it is possible to learn them, they’re often considered inherent to a degree.  Soft skills tend to be less about how we interact with machines and technology and more about how we interact with other people.

A few examples of soft skills are work ethic, motivation, confidence, positive attitude, leadership, communication, teamwork, time management, problem solving, and so on.  Not everyone possesses these qualities, not everyone can learn them, and they exist to varying degrees from one person to the next.  However, they are an important part of many job positions.

What to include on your resume

As with any part of your resume, the skills you include must be tailored to the job you’re seeking and the company you’re applying with.  Some positions require a lot of hard skills, and if you have them, you definitely want to show you are qualified.  Some companies want every employee to be a team player and a creative thinker, and to strive for leadership.

Understanding what a prospective employer is looking for will help you to decide which skills to include on your resume.  You’ll generally include a mixture of both hard and soft skills, but keep in mind that your soft skills are often what separate you from the pack of applicants with qualifying hard skills.


Post by Sarah Harris

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