Your Skills – Inside Information, Examples, Q&A


Listing Skills

Your skills represent the tools you bring to a prospective employer. They signify your core competencies, key strengths and unique abilities. It is your combination of skills and ability to use them that represent your qualifications for a given position. List your skills whenever possible in your resume, as they are also used as keywords.

Focus on both hard and soft skills. Soft skills are those personal qualities such as leadership, team building, and communication. Hard skills represent the tools of your trade or specific knowledge you have gained, such as the ability to use computer software, prepare an audit, or speak a foreign language. Skills can be personal or professional, but must be relevant to the job for which you are applying.

Listing all your relevant skills will demonstrate to a prospective employer you have the tools needed for the job. Find out what skills are required for the position you are seeking. You can get this information from the job description, Human Resources department, or from people you know in the field. Once you have determined the required skills, identify as many of these skills you possess and list them in this section in order of relevancy to the employer.

Defining your Skills

To gather your skills, think of the many things you have done in your career. If you could isolate your work experiences into your individual skills, what would they be? Some of the basic, common skills you already possess are reading skills, organizational skills, math skills, typing skills, writing skills, and a variety of others.

The following questions may help in identifying some of the skills you can bring to a job.

·        What tasks do you perform on a daily basis?

·        What skills enable you to complete these tasks?

·        What were some of the reasons you were hired at your last job?

·        What skills did you use on each job?

·        What would people come to you for help with?

·        What foreign languages do you speak that would aid in your position?

·        What software, hardware or other computer skills do you possess?

Then ask questions about your personal or educational background. This is especially important if you are changing careers or are a recent graduate.

·        What skills do you use in your hobbies?

·        What languages do you speak?

·        Do you perform any type of community service?

·        Do you volunteer? What skills do you bring?

·        What skills did you use in your class work?

·        Have you done any projects? What was your role and why?

Describing Your Skills

You can usually describe a skill in few words. Some typical skills might be: Programming in Java, Typing 60 WPM, Speaking French, Using Microsoft Word.

Don’t use exaggerative phrases like “Excellent” or “Impeccable.” These phrases are used in so many resumes they have lost their meaning and credibility. Demonstrate the strength of your skills in your Accomplishment or Experience sections.

Listing Your Skills

Place the skills or keywords that your prospective employer will find most relevant at the top of your resume.

Consider grouping skills under global headings. For example, reading, writing and typing could all fall under Communication Skills. This will help prospective employers identify important skills you can bring to their company. Be sure to include only those skills relevant to the job for which you are applying.

Skills - Examples

Languages            Visual Basic V6, VB Script, C+, HTML, JavaScript, COBOL
Databases              Relational databases, SQL Server, Access, Oracle

Software                Object Oriented Analysis, Design, Programming, Testing

Platforms              Windows NT/2000/XP, Windows ME/98/95, Apple OX

Applications         Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, FrontPage, Lotus SmartSuite

System Skills

Proficient in Network Plus TCP/IP, Wireless, Cable, Peer to Peer networks, Ethernet, Token Ring, NT, Apple Talk, Wireless Networking for Windows 95/98/2000, IPX/SPX, Frame Relay, T1, Virtual Private Networks, NetBEUI configuration under NT, Novell Networks, TCP/IP under NT 4.0, Microsoft Windows NT 4.0

Financial Skills

Experienced in Accounts Receivable and Billing, Inventory Control, Budgeting, Accounts Payable, Fixed Assets Analysis, Bank Reconciliation, Automated Payroll, General Ledger, and Financial Account Analysis




·    Effective Forecasting & Planning

·  Asset Disposition

·    Negotiation

·  Cash Management

·    Communication

·  Corporate Development

·    Target Achievement

·  Internal Controls

·    Effective Networking

·  Risk Management

·    Event Management & Promotion

·  Financial Analysis

·    Placement & Advertising

·  Asset Management

·    Problem Solving

·  Audit Controls

·    Relationship & Team Building

·  Project Financing



·    Operations & Financial Management

·  Financial Statement Generation

·    Margin Improvement

·  Systems & Process Development

·    Accounting & Tax Preparation

·  Pricing Negotiation

·    High-Level Relationship Management        

·  Contract Review & Negotiation

·    Customer Retention Strategies & Discounts

·  Relationship & Team Building

·    Training, Mentoring & Staff Development

·  Cash Management & Optimization

·    Strategic Planning

·  Performance / Profit Improvement

·    Internal Control Systems Development

·  Facilitate Audits

·    Budgeting & Forecasting

·  Credit Management


·    Management & Financial Reporting

·  Legislative Compliance

·    Business Opportunity Assessments

·  Policy Development        

·    Cross-Functional Team Leadership

·  Relationship Building

·    Feasibility Analysis

·  Technology Implementations

·    Strategic Planning

·  Statutory Accounts Preparation

·    Cross-Cultural Work

·  Budget Management

·    Process Reengineering

·  Productivity/Efficiency

·    Risk Management

·  Global Market Modeling

·    Cost-Avoidance & Reduction

·  Strategic Planning

Skills - Questions & Answers

How should I arrange the skills on my resume?

It is usually a good strategy to place your most relevant skills at the top, where they are most visible to a prospective employer. If you are listing several short skill keywords, then using a two or three column bulleted list is recommended.

If I am changing careers, how can I best describe my skills?

You will need to focus on transferable skills, or skills you’ve developed in your previous employment or personal life, that you can bring to your new job. First, analyze the requirements of your target job. Based on the job description, what skills are needed? Writing skills? Computer skills? Organizational skills?

Create a list of all the required skills. Then, for each of these, review your employment and personal history for tasks you have performed that used similar skills. For instance, say your job target requires answering the phone, and then either providing information or directing the caller to the correct person. This requires the skills of communicating with a customer, analyzing their needs, and then making a decision on how to fill that need. You would use these same skills in any customer service job. Your transferable skills would be Interpersonal Communication, Customer Needs Analysis, and Problem Solving.

Do employers prefer paragraph descriptions of skills or bulleted lists on a resume?

Employers generally prefer a bulleted list of skills. Bulleted lists are generally easier to read and identify important skill sets.

Should I emphasize my experience or skills or both?

If you have significant experience relevant to the job you are seeking, you will probably want to emphasize your skills using Action-Benefit Statements within your Accomplishment and Experience sections. If you have limited experience in your target job, you will want to emphasize your transferable skills in a Capabilities or Skills section.

As a recent graduate, how can I best describe my skills?

Review the classes and projects you have completed in school, and also your experience in full or part-time , volunteer activities or student activities. From each of these, think of the skills and abilities you have used or learned that would be relevant to your job target. Have you had a service industry job? Then you have probably learned communication skills. Do you know how to type? How many words per minute? You bring that potential skill to a job. Have you proven to be a reliable employee, always showing up on time and never calling in sick? Reliability could also be considered a skill. Listing all these items would be a good beginning in describing your skill set.

Should I reference skills that are not related to my target position?

You should put in your resume only those things that will make you an attractive candidate for the job. If you possess a skill that is not required for your target job, then you should consider leaving it off your resume.