The Definitive Guide To Showcasing Skills On Your Resume
6 min read
It’s true. You have mad skills – and not with a “z” at the end. Now you just need to know how those skills should show up on your resume. If you’re reading this post, you’ve likely already tried at least one of the tactics below:
Googled a list of skills for the job you want
Reviewed example resumes of people who have the job you want
But how, you’re thinking. Should they be in list form, in a table format, or peppered throughout?
The answer is … it depends. On whom you are and what kind of a role you’re going for.
1. Subject Matter Expert / Specialist.
Let’s say you’re a software engineer.
Your next dream job is a head of engineering role at a major software company.
Since you’re skilled at things not many other people are – and they are essential to qualifying you for the job you want – it makes great sense for you to showcase your skills and qualification in a simple list or table format.
In your case, your resume “skills” are tangible, practical, hands-on, real-world stuff you know how to use or do, such as:
Experience with UX design and open source development
And your qualifications might be:
BS in Computer Science, University of New South Wales, 2010
A note on placement:
Any recruiter screening for this role will scan the first page of your resume to confirm the above boxes are checked. In this case, your list or table should feature your qualifications first and skills second.
The same advice would apply for project managers, financial planners, cybersecurity and other IT professionals, medical professionals, etc.
You get the idea. Basically, any specialty role where you need a specific set of skills and trainings to be competitive in the job market would follow this rule of thumb.
2. Associate / Career-Level Roles.
Follow the same guidelines above, with one possible exception.
Your education might be more appropriate to place below your list or table of skills. Unless you have a certification that’s essential for the job you want.
3. Senior Leadership / Executive Roles.
In the immortal words of John Cleese: And now for something completely different.
If you’re an executive, you’re the one exception to the “skills in a list or table” rule.
At your level, it’s incumbent upon you to prove you have what it takes to solve your desired employer’s biggest business challenges.
A simple table won’t get you there. But here’s what will: Core Assets (aka Key Accomplishments).
For our senior-most clients, we recommend showcasing your skills (both hard and soft) in a way that illustrates your USP—your unique ability to solve commercially relevant business problems.
Generally, these proof points take shape as achievements. They land either in a section of your resume called Core (or Key) Assets or in a list of Key Achievements / Accomplishments. And, of course, your skills should be sprinkled throughout your Professional Experience section.
This is a fancy way of saying you need to tie your skills to tangible results. Without the results, your most coveted skills will end up sounding like fluff.
However, on the topic of skills, I’ll also suggest an additional writing technique that isn’t included in my post on resume achievements.
The CAR Technique (Challenge / Action / Results).
The CAR technique is an effective and straightforward way to translate your skills into accomplishments that are capable of capturing the hearts, minds and eyeballs of recruiters.
For each skill you’re seeking to highlight, begin by asking yourself these 3 questions:
Challenge: what big challenges have you faced relative to this skill? Remember to span your career versus just your most recent role.
Actions: what specific actions did you take to overcome those challenges? The key word here is specific.
Results: what was the impact of your work? Consider the frequency and scale of your impact
1. You’re a CMO.
And you want to tout your change management skills.
A major challenge in your career involved a significant revenue shortfall at your company.
The action you took was to initiate a policy change that freed up funds for direct marketing.
The result was that you nearly eliminated the loss in less than a year.
It might turn out something like this:
“Proactively transformed a $30M revenue shortfall by creating a new approach to direct marketing that cut losses by 75% in 6 months’ time.”
That example would fit best in a list of achievements, even though it’s highlighting a skill.
2. You’re A VP of HR.
You want to emphasise your leadership skills.
In one of your roles, your company was suffering from crippling attrition due to lack of growth opportunity.
Your action was to create a program that clearly delineated career paths for various roles.
The result was reduced attrition for hard-to-fill roles.
It might read like this:
“Designed and championed career pathway program focused on reducing attrition in key talent areas. “
This would fit nicely in your Core Assets section, as it shows your leadership skills without having to say “leadership.”
By now, I trust you’re feeling a tad more grounded in the world of resume skill creation. Admittedly, though, this DIY approach to crafting skills for your resume demands a great deal of time and energy.
So, take a break and enjoy this video of incredible humans. You might want to turn the volume down first:
Consider it a small reminder that we all shine on.