The best skills to put on a resume to get your dream job

best skills for a resume
Let your best qualities to shine in your resume. Source: AFP

Knowing the best skills for a resume can be the difference between you landing your dream job or getting yet another rejection letter (or radio silence).

But anyone who’s created a resume knows it’s not easy. Both exciting and nerve-wracking, this is a process with plenty of ups and downs.

On one hand, it’s a moment when you get to showcase all the hard work and skills you’ve gained through school, university and beyond.

You get to list and see all your achievements, internships and any relevant experiences. 

However, it can also be a bit scary. You might worry about whether your resume is impressive enough or if it will stand out from the rest. It’s like preparing for a big exam or sports competition – you want to perform your best and score.

By including the best skills for a resume, you can do just that. 

According to a study, 93% of employers look for evidence of skills on resumes, making it one of the top factors in their hiring decisions.

Skills provide concrete proof of what you can bring to the table, and they’re especially vital when you consider that a job posting receives 250 resumes, but only four to six candidates get called for an interview.

But “best” is subjective and how in the world do you find out what are the “best skills for a resume” fit for you and the role you’re applying for?

best skills for a resume

Include the best skills for a resume to ace your interview. Source: AFP

Best skills for a resume: Start with a strong structure

Save the creativity for your passion projects. With resumes, you need a no-nonsense structure that’s easy for anyone to read.

Here’s a breakdown of the structure of a resume and the key sections:

  1. Contact information: Name, phone number, email address, LinkedIn profile
  2. Resume summary or objective: A brief two or three-sentence statement that summarises your career goals, skills and what you can bring to the job.
  3. Professional experience:
    – List your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent or current job.
    – For each position, include the job title, company name, location and employment dates.
    – Use bullet points to describe your key responsibilities and achievements for each role.
  4. Education:
    – List your educational background in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent degree.
    – Include the degree earned, institution name, location and graduation date
  5. Skills:
    – Divided into “hard skills” (technical or job-specific skills) and “soft skills” (interpersonal or general skills).
  6. Certifications or licenses:
    – Include any professional certifications or licenses that are relevant to the job.
  7. Languages:
    – If you are proficient in languages other than your native language, you can include them here.
  8. References:
    – It’s common to mention that references are available upon request
best skills for a resume

Showcasing your best skills on your resume can help you secure your dream job. Source: AFP

Best skills for a resume: What to avoid and what to highlight

When it comes to putting down the best skills for a resume, remember the word SMART — which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Be specific, quantify your achievements, don’t exaggerate, don’t include irrelevant details and state the months and years.

Below are some example:

Bad resume statements:

  1. “I did stuff at my last job.”
  2. “I have experience.”
  3. “I’m a people person.”
  4. “I have good communication skills.”
  5. “I worked on projects.”

Good resume statements:

  1. “Managed a team of 10 employees, increasing departmental efficiency by 20% and achieving quarterly sales targets.”
  2. “Accumulated five years of experience in software development, specialising in Java and Python.”
  3. “Excel in client relations, consistently maintaining a 98% customer satisfaction rate by resolving issues proactively.”
  4. “Demonstrated strong communication skills by leading presentations to clients, resulting in a 15% increase in sales.”
  5. “Led my team on six projects, delivering the work on time and under budget.”
best skills for a resume

Having communication skills is one of the best skills for a resume to help you stand out from the rest. Source: AFP

8 best skills for your resume and your career 

Using the best skills for a resume will undoubtedly make it more appealing to potential employers.

Remember, employers aren’t just looking for qualifications; they want individuals who can contribute positively to their organisations.

Adding the following skills will ensure your resume shines and help you succeed in your chosen field.

1. Effective communication 

Why it’s important: Employers value your ability to express ideas clearly, whether in writing or speaking.

How it can help: Good communication ensures everyone is on the same page, avoiding misunderstandings and collaborating well.

Effective communication skills are one of the best skills for a resume. It’s not just about talking; it’s about how you convey your thoughts, ideas and experiences in both written and spoken forms. 

Imagine you’re working in a team, and there’s a big project coming up. You need to explain your ideas, ask questions, and offer feedback effectively in order for things to run smoothly. 

The reason communication skills are highly sought-after is clear: they’re essential in almost every profession. Whether you’re working on a team project, pitching an idea, or liaising with clients, being able to express yourself effectively can set you apart from others.

is university worth it? should i go to university?

Good with social media? That shows you’re good at connecting with people, an example of effective communication you can add to your resume. Source: AFP

2. Problem-solving

Why it’s important: Employers love problem solvers because they save time, resources, and lead to better outcomes.

How it can help: With strong problem-solving skills, you can quickly identify the problem, brainstorm solutions, and provide excellent customer support.

In any field, you’re bound to encounter hurdles, whether a technical glitch, a tight deadline, or a customer complaint.

Problem-solving is the art of finding solutions when faced with challenges. It involves the ability to analyse challenges, come up with innovative solutions, and make sound decisions.

Your resume could highlight this skill with a statement like, “Proficient in identifying potential roadblocks, devising effective solutions and ensuring successful completion” with examples of previous challenges you have overcome with your problem-solving skills.

3. Critical thinking 

Why it’s important: Employers want employees who can think critically to make the best choices for their organisation.

How it can help: Critical thinking allows you to evaluate data, weigh pros and cons and choose the strategy with the highest potential for success.

Critical thinking involves analysing information, making informed decisions and solving complex problems.  “Proficient in identifying trends, recognising opportunities and making data-driven decisions” is an example of what you could include in your resume to showcase your critical thinking skills

These qualities are highly sought after as employees with critical thinking skills can think on their feet, make well-informed decisions, and solve complex challenges. As one of the best skills for a resume, by showcasing your critical thinking abilities, employers will recognise that you’re someone who can make a significant impact, whether it’s through innovative problem-solving or data-driven decision-making. 

best skills for a resume

Acing a job interview requires preparation, punctuality, and authenticity. Source: AFP

4. Time management 

Why it’s important: Employers seek individuals who can manage their time well, meet deadlines and be productive.

How it can help: Effective time management ensures you allocate your time wisely, allowing you to complete all tasks when needed. 

As one of the best skills for a resume, it showcases your ability to juggle tasks, meet deadlines, and stay organised. Imagine you’re applying for a role in event planning; your resume could include a statement like, “Skilled at coordinating complex events, meeting tight schedules and ensuring every detail is in place. Previously, my time management skills led to the successful execution of fundraisers, seminars, product launches and conferences.”

This skill shows your employers that you’re someone who can handle multiple responsibilities without feeling overwhelmed. In a professional world where deadlines are important, being able to manage your time efficiently is a superpower. 

5. Teamwork and collaboration 

Why it’s important: Most jobs involve working with others. As such, employers want team players who can cooperate, share ideas and achieve common goals.

How it can help: Good teamwork skills foster a positive work environment, boost creativity and lead successful teamwork

Let’s say you’re applying for a job, include a statement like this in your resume to showcase your collaborative skills, “Adept at fostering strong team dynamics, encouraging open communication and ensuring success.”

Because this skill shows employers that you’re not just an individual contributor but a team player, it is essential.

Many tasks require cooperation, whether it’s collaborating on a group project, brainstorming ideas or resolving conflicts.

By emphasising your teamwork and collaboration skills on your resume, employers will know that you’re a candidate who can not only thrive independently but also excel within a team, contributing to a peaceful and productive work environment. 

6. Adaptability

Why it’s important: Employers appreciate employees who can adapt to new technologies, processes, and challenges.

How it can help: Being adaptable allows you to adjust your sales approach, stay competitive and achieve your targets.

Adaptability is all about your ability to adjust, evolve, and thrive in different work environments. You could include statements like “Skilled at quickly pivoting marketing strategies to respond to market shifts and emerging trends” to showcase your adaptability skills. 

Employers value candidates who can roll with the punches, whether it’s embracing new technologies, adjusting to market shifts or navigating unexpected challenges like a pro.

As one of the best skills for a resume, by emphasising your adaptability, you’re showing potential employers that you’re a candidate who won’t just survive in a dynamic work environment – you’ll thrive. 

7. Leadership skills

Why it’s important: Leadership skills are valuable even if you’re not seeking a managerial role. Employers want employees who can motivate others and lead by example.

How it can help: If you demonstrate leadership skills, you contribute to your organisation’s mission and set yourself apart as a capable employee.

As one of the best skills for a resume, this skill includes taking initiative, guiding a team, and driving positive change. 

These skills are essential because they demonstrate to employers that you’re more than just an employee – you’re a potential leader who can inspire and drive success.

In today’s world, many roles require you to step into leadership positions, whether managing a project, leading a team or guiding organisational change.

By showcasing your leadership skills on your resume, you’re telling potential employers that you’re a candidate who can lead by example, inspire others and bring positive change to your workplace. 

best skills for a resume

Digital literacy is an important skill to have in today’s technology driven world. Source: AFP

8. Digital literacy

Why it’s important: Digital literacy is essential in this tech-driven world. Employers seek candidates who can use digital tools and platforms efficiently.

How it can help: Proficiency will make you stand out and you will be an asset to your company.

Digital literacy is one of the best skills for a resume that can transform your resume and open doors to many career opportunities. It involves your ability to navigate digital tools, software and platforms with ease. 

If you are applying for a role in marketing, your resume could highlight this skill with a statement like, “Skilled at harnessing social media, data analytics tools, and content management systems to create effective marketing campaigns.”

Why is digital literacy so crucial? Because it is a skill that is useful across industries. Whether you’re in marketing, finance, or tech, you’ll likely encounter digital tools and technologies as part of your job.

By showcasing your digital literacy on your resume, you’re showing employers that you’re a candidate who can easily adapt to the digital landscape and use technology to excel in your role.