Resume Advice

The Most Important Skills to Include on Your Resume

What are important skills to include on your resume? What are some red flags to be careful of? Keep reading to get our take on best practices for including skills on your resume!

Michael Yan
Published: (Updated: ) - 4 min read
Michael Yan is the co-founder & CEO of Simplify. Previously a software engineer at Meta, Michael dropped out of Stanford to found Simplify. He is a part-time career coach & Y Combinator alum.

Photo by Markus Winkler / Unsplash

As a staple of the modern workforce, resumes are pretty much essential no matter what field you're looking to enter. But with so many different people vying for jobs these days, it's more important than ever to make sure your resume stands out from the rest.

In this article, we'll explore the popular topic of job skills and explain which ones you should (and shouldn't) be including in your resume.

Skip “Soft Skills”

The first, and perhaps most important, thing we need to address here is 'soft skills' and their place on a resume or cover letter.

Simply defined, 'soft skills' are abilities and talents that are non-quantifiable in nature. They can't be measured, and are more a representation of professional character than anything else. Common examples of 'soft skills' you'll find among job candidates' applications include subjective phrases like "hard worker", "detail oriented", or "good communicator."

While these are all certainly great qualities to have, they aren't worth space on your resume. In fact, omitting these kinds of subjective comments is one of the most important resume tips we can give you.

When an employer looks through resumes, they're not looking for evidence of someone's great attitude or work ethic - they're looking for cold, hard facts. They want to know what you can do, and they want to see proof. So, if 'soft skills' aren't going to do the trick, what will? The answer is keywords.

While they aren't necessary to include in your resume, soft skills should definitely be included on your Simplify profile so recruiters can get a full view of who you are as a candidate! 

Keywords are King

One of the best things you can do for both yourself and your resume is to develop hard skills. Contrary to soft skills, these are tangible and quantifiable skills like Python, Google Analytics, Salesforce, Hubspot, to name a few. The actual skill you end up learning will obviously vary based on your industry and career interest, but these hard skills are what recruiters are looking for when screening resumes for potential candidacy.

When an employer searches for candidates on a site like Simplify, they'll enter specific keywords related to the job they're looking to fill. For example, if they're looking for a web developer, they might search for keywords like "HTML", "CSS", "React", or "JavaScript". If they're looking for a Spanish-speaking customer service representative, they might search for "Spanish" or "bilingual".

These days, many companies will even use automated systems to automatically screen out candidates who don't have certain keywords that are crucial to a job. So for a software engineering position, it's possible that companies will screen out candidates with no programming languages listed as skills in their resume. Save yourself – learn the hard skills necessary for the job and make sure they're on your resume!

Categorize your skills

To make it easier for recruiters to quickly scan over your resume, it might be good to have separate sections for your skills. One idea would be to separate programming languages you know from softwares you're proficient in. For example:

Development Skills: Python, Java, JavaScript, Matlab, Android Studio, PyCharm

Software Skills: Adobe Photoshop, Canva, Microsoft Office, Figma, Airtable, Google Analytics, Salesforce, Facebook Ads

Other Skills: Spanish (proficient), Blogging, Social Media (Instagram, TikTok)

While it's not always necessary to do so, it definitely helps improve the readability of your resume and helps you showcase the variety of skills you have under your belt.

Cater Your Skills To The Position You're Applying For

On a similar note to the last point, it's important that the skills you list on your resume are relevant to the position you're applying for.

For example, if you're applying for a job as a web developer, there's no need to list skills like "ability to lift 50 pounds" or "proficient in Microsoft Word". However, if you're applying for a job as a warehouse worker, those skills could definitely come in handy.

What this means is that you should be constantly editing your resume based on the positions you are applying for. You can easily find out what skills are desirable for a given role by reading the job description, which usually outlines a list of required skills and "nice-to-haves" that you should try to feature somewhere in you resume.

Not sure what skills you should include in your resume? Simplify's matching algorithm tells you exactly what skills each job posting is looking for. Check it out here!

Be Concise

Above all, be concise in the way you write your resume. Employers sift through hundreds, if not thousands of them, so you'll want to make sure yours is easy to read and digest.

Use bullet points, and try to limit each skill or experience to one or two lines. If you have a lot of experience in a certain area, feel free to elaborate more, but don't go overboard. No need to use pronouns like "I" or "We" – barebones phrases like "Designed and developed backend for mobile app" are ideal.

A good rule of thumb is to only include the most relevant or impressive achievements you've made at each experience or project you've worked on. Make sure to use strong action verbs (see list below) and keep things short!

Strong action verbs: Analyzed, developed, designed, spearheaded, conducted, directed, architected, proposed, orchestrated, executed, delegated, operated – to name a few!

The Bottom Line

When it comes to writing your resume, less is definitely more. Be concise, be relevant, and choose your words carefully. Highlight your successes with specific, quantifiable examples, and you're sure to land the job you want in no time.

What's more important the content of your resume, shockingly, is the format in which it's presented. Make sure to use a single-column template as opposed to a multi-column template to maximize readability by the software systems many companies use to pre-screen resumes.

One other common mistake is the order candidates list experiences and educations on resumes. The information on your resume should be in reverse chronological order – in other words, most recent experiences listed first.You'll also want to use a .docx or .pdf file for your resume as well!

With all that said, you should have all the tools you need to make a killer resume. Best of luck with the job search!

Looking for jobs to apply to? Check out Simplify's database of over 1,000,000+ jobs and internships here!