Learning effective ways of listing hard skills on your resume can be the difference between securing a new job quickly or applying for dozens of jobs and hearing nothing back.
You must also know how to select the best skills in the context of the time period you’re applying, given the rate at which the know-how needed for jobs is evolving.
Let me show you how to beat other job seekers and land a dream job by listing your hard skills correctly. I’ll also explain the critical differences between hard and soft skills along the way, so that you don’t get confused.
Why Is It Important To List Hard Skills Correctly?
Your resume must be commercially meaningful and concise while establishing how you are different to (possibly hundreds) of other candidates who have applied for the same role.
Yet, most job applicants slap skills on their resume without giving them much thought.
Most companies use software like AI-powered Applicant Tracking Systems, which allow them to bulk sort resumes and search skills by keyword. Your resume can get deprioritised if you don’t list your hard skills correctly.
The ‘Right’ Hard Skills Vary.
‘Skills’ is a broad term. It includes practical knowledge (e.g., languages), technical skills (e.g., computer skills), as well as interpersonal and behavioural attributes (e.g., communication skills).
Let’s explore a specific example from LinkedIn’s study, based on top skills in the professional services field in Australia:
- In 2022, top skills included knowledge of Xero, MYOB, AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Adobe software. Other new entrants in the top 10 include social media marketing and cybersecurity.
- Whereas in 2015, less than a decade ago, ‘stakeholder management’ and ‘requirements analysis’ topped the list. Only two skills from 2015 remain in the top 10 now.
Being able to engage and communicate well with stakeholders may be valued, but perhaps not equally important as being able to hit the ground running using specific accounting software.
A hiring manager looking to fill a senior leadership role will almost certainly prioritise stakeholder skills, while someone who is looking for a Python coder will look for a candidate with advanced computer knowledge.
Always be honest on a resume! An alarming 78% of people admitted to misrepresenting facts on their resumes. It can be easy for employees to check this, so don’t take risks.
Hard And Soft Skills: What’s The Difference?
Conversations about talent management are increasingly focused on hard-to-measure skills like communication, problem-solving and emotional intelligence. These are known as soft skills.
Employers may have opened their eyes to the importance of nurturing and hiring for soft skills, but hard skills remain the baseline for your suitability for a job.
Because soft skills apply across any industry, whereas a lack of hard skills limits your ability to perform certain functions.
What Defines A Hard Skill?
Hard skills are:
- Technical hard skills that are necessary to perform specific tasks.
- Often gained through training or experience.
- Quantifiable (hiring managers usually list hard skills under the “Requirements” section on a job listing).
Common hard skills include:
|Basic computer skills and software knowledge.|
|Writing skills and editing.|
|Social media management.|
|Data analysis and database management.|
|Digital marketing skills.|
|Job-specific abilities (e.g., driving a forklift, building WordPress graphic user interfaces).|
According to LinkedIn, 2023’s most in-demand hard skills include:
|Software development and cloud computing.|
|Finance and operations.|
|Customer Relationship Management (CRM).|
What Defines A Soft Skill?
Soft skills, on the other hand, are:
- Habits, characteristics, and attributes describe your capacity to interact well with others.
- Not job-specific; these transferable skills can be applied in just about any job.
- A way to to prove your ability to hiring managers, show that you understand the general work environment, and demonstrate your ability to adapt to the company culture.
Highly sought-after soft skills include:
|Project management skills.|
|Effective communication skills.|
The main difference between hard and soft skills lies in how you gain them.
Some people are more likely to innately possess soft skills (like grit or patience), but they can also be learned through daily life experience and targeted training.
Look for opportunities in your cover letter and resume to highlight how you combine your hard and soft skills to get real-world results. For example: “I used Salesforce to develop a streamlined client onboarding process and led its successful adoption business-wide by using my strong communication and active listening skills to conduct peer-to-peer training.”
How To List Hard Skills On A Resume.
Recruiters and hiring managers using applicant tracking systems will filter candidates by most relevant skills.
For example, if you’re applying to a job requiring CSS coding skills and neglect to mention CSS on your resume, the company’s system can deprioritise your application.
1. Determine The Most Relevant Hard Skills.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is sending the same resume to every job ad and hoping you’ll receive a reply. This screams “generic” to recruiters and easily turns them off.
- Take the time to read each job description carefully and write down the mandatory skills.
- Edit the skills section of your resume to best match the application and remove the irrelevant skills.
Don’t forget about your cover letter. Ensure that it’s aligned with the skills you see in the job ad and explains why you are an excellent fit for the role.
2. List Hard Skills On The Front Page.
Don’t make the mistake of burying your hard skills deep inside your resume. They should ideally live at the bottom of page one, under a heading like “Key Skills Summary”.
You can use a table or a list of bullets. Either is OK, as long as the formatting is neat.
Avoid adding heavy chunks of dense, small text to your resume. Make your resume look skimmable and approachable.
3. Mention Licenses, Short Courses And Certifications.
Place these under the “Education” or “Further Study” section at the back of your resume.
Be careful to only include things that are aligned with your personal brand or contain transferrable skills. For example:
- CPR certification/first aid.
- Surf lifesaving/lifeguard training.
- Food Safety Supervisor course.
- RSA or RCG courses.
- Hospitality (barista, bartender) certifications.
- Photography workshops.
- Forklift or machinery certification.
4. Weave Your Hard Skills Throughout Your Resume.
Don’t consider the Key Skills section the only location for listing hard and soft skills on your resume. Add a sprinkle of job-specific skills throughout your resume for maximum impact.
For example, if you’re a technical writer:
- Mention your proficiency level with Microsoft Word and Surfer SEO in your recent job history.
- Highlight your obsession with deadlines in the resume’s profile. You’ve never missed a deadline, right?
How To Develop Hard Skills For Your Resume.
You can develop hard skills in three ways:
- Formal study, training, short courses and certifications.
- Hands-on experience through work or volunteering.
- Practice, maintenance and refreshing of your skills.
While a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree demonstrates that you gained hard skills in an area of study — it’s often not enough on its own.
If being degree-qualified is an expectation for a role, standing apart from other candidates will require additional proof of relevant hard skills.
(Related: Is An MBA Worth It?)
Not only does certification validate your skills, but it also gives people confidence that your skills are up to date – because the certification requires you to retake the test every 2-3 years.
Learn new hard skills by seeking out stretch projects that will take you outside your comfort zone (ask your manager during your next performance review).
Final Words On Adding Hard Skills To Your Resume.
Every time you submit your resume during job search, you’re in fierce competition for a hiring manager’s attention.
Listing hard skills in a compelling way is a ‘must-have’ for creating an exceptional resume that puts you ahead in a candidate pool of hundreds.
At Arielle Executive, we’ve spent years perfecting the ability to list hard skills on a resume while balancing work experience, education, soft skills, interests, and an engaging cover letter summarising it all.
Tap into our expertise and skills in resume writing, job coaching, outplacement, and interview preparation.