How to Match the Job Target with Key Skills on Your Resume

By Laura DeCarlo

Skills are the keywords of your resume. They are a critical component of surviving much of the initial resume scanning that takes place, both by humans and computers, to determine whether you make it to the decision maker and the interview.

Although there are specific competencies and skills for each type of job (think plumber, sales person, administrative assistant, CEO), the way they are specifically worded can vary from company to company, and when you are making an industry change, from industry to industry. So it’s critical to carefully study job advertisements and use the wording that the company has used to be a perfect match and to survive applicant tracking systems (ATS).

Here are two categories of skills and how to incorporate the different types into your resume.

Hard skills

Hard skills are the technical qualifications you possess that your profession and target position require. For instance, there is a specific set of unique skills required of a retail manager, administrative assistant, veterinary technician, sales person, or an aerospace engineer. An example of a veterinary technician might include

Animal restraint techniques, treatment administration (oral/injectable), medication dosage calculation, IV catheter placement, X-rays, blood draws, laboratory testing, diagnostic equipment operation

These technical competencies become the cornerstone of your keyword section, which is placed directly under the summary. This section is typically best expressed in a two- to three-column list that includes short, to-the-point key skills and a few competencies. You typically need to include 9 to 21 key skills and competencies.

Soft skills

Soft skills are important but can be secondary in how much stress you place on them in this section. Soft skills are interpersonal talents like the ability to work as part of a team or to communicate effectively with customers. You’re required to have them for the position, but because of how generic the skills can be, they aren’t always listed in the key skills section.

Instead, roll them into the summary when you are describing how you excel and add to the bottom line. It can become clear that you are a strong communicator when you mention “selected to give keynote speech for the industry’s leading national conference.”