To start with, deciding on what skills to put on a resume is a lot more important and probably a bit more complicated than you think. Employers look for a certain skill-set in a resume, and you have to show them you have that.
But it’s a bit more complicated than that.
I understand finding suitable resume skills can be overwhelming and confusing to you. But, essentially, it’s fairly simple. I wrote this comprehensive guide to simplify the entire process for you. There are 3 ways you can go about this, which I have ordered according to effectiveness:
- Pick some “special” skills from those websites and paste in your resume. If you do this, you just waste valuable space in your resume.
- Go find the skills mentioned in the job description and then paste those in your resume. This is a lot better compared to having generic skills...but still “meh.”
- My way. Read on…
What everyone seems to be missing is this: You can’t necessarily know what skills to put on your resume until you conduct a proper research.
Don’t worry. We will go over everything you need to know in this article. By reading and implementing my recommendations, you will hopefully increase your chances by a significant margin!
Let’s get to the basics first.
If the job description mentions additional skills and abilities, then it’s always a good idea to put a couple of them in the relevant section of your resume. I don’t recommend you put all of them in. You may look like you just tailored your resume to match exactly what they are looking for.
You don’t want to look fake.
So, how do you draw the line between a role-personalized resume and one that looks too personalized and pretentious?
First things first, let me introduce myself. I am Deniz Sasal. I am a manager with PwC Consulting in our strategy consulting business unit. I am also the creator of The Career Mastery and infamous Landing Interviews Guaranteed (1-hour long free masterclass where I teach candidates advanced strategies to pass job interviews.
I launched The Career Mastery blog as a side project in 2016 because I wanted to help unemployed and underemployed find better jobs with large multinational employers and management consultancies.
See, I’ve joined a lot of interviews as a hiring manager. And one thing I noticed very clearly is that today’s job applicants are extremely misled. There is so much BS advice out there given by completely unqualified non-achievers who have the audacity to teach. And as a result, a lot of graduates end up wasting so much valuable time and settling for sub-par employers.
But long story short, if you stick with me, I will provide you with the best advice and insider tips and tricks to increase your chances of getting jobs with multinationals.
There are 2 types of resume skills:
- Soft skills
- Hard skills
Simply put, soft skills in your resume are behavioral and relate to how you interact with others or perform a job. Hard skills are the more technical requirements (for example, knowledge of programming languages for a software programmer).
But what I want to stress here is that listing your soft skills in a resume may just be a waste of valuable space. These skills are not necessarily something you want to mention but rather demonstrate in the interview.
Now, I’d like you to pay attention to what I am about to mention. This is important, so please focus.
Let’s assume you are a fresh graduate and you have completed about 3 months of internships, so far.
This means you have spent about 540 hours doing a particular work.
So, here is my question:
Is it even remotely possible for you to list down everything you have done in that organization, all the skills you developed, in 4 bullet points?
Now, imagine how difficult it would be to list down all your experience and skillset if you have years of experience. Your resume might end up being 5 pages long!
Alright, now here’s the interesting bit.
Just as you cannot put down everything you’ve done and all the skills you’ve developed, hiring managers also cannot list down everything about the job.
These unmentioned ones are what I call “unwritten requirements”.
The HR won’t necessarily know these. What they know is what is given to them by the hiring manager…which is very limited.
Are you with me so far?
To get to my point, there are many unwritten requirements when it comes to resume skills, experience, tools, software, hardware…the list is very long on this. Just know that they are all very important requirements in the hiring manager’s mind.
And just because they are not written in a 200-word job post, it doesn’t mean they are not applicable or important.
If you go ahead and copy the skills needed from the job post and put it on your resume, you may meet the bare minimum…but you could also incur an opportunity loss. Instead of collecting a lot more points, you’ll just fail to impress the hiring manager.
Let’s look at some sample resume skills, shall we?
If you are applying for a sales role, you are most likely going to use some sort of CRM (customer relationship management) tool. Most likely, it’s going to be SalesForce, Zoho, or bigger integrated systems like SAP and Oracle.
If it’s a project management role, you can almost be guaranteed to use MS Project or Primavera.
If the role is very analytical, then you will definitely be using MS Excel.
Excel is a tricky one.
We all know how to use Excel, but very few of us really know how to write advanced formulas, conditional formatting, advanced charting, VBAs & Macros, or run simulations.
So, instead of just mentioning “Excel,” make sure you write down those specifics: macros, VBAs, etc.
These are just some of the examples.
The best thing for you to do is when you are researching about the company, try to find out what tools they are using and then make sure you mention these in your resume.
For example, for my industry (management consulting), nobody wants to hire a management consultant who doesn’t know how to use PowerPoint. It’s not something we would like to teach. What we would like to teach is how to create deliverables with PowerPoint, not necessarily PowerPoint itself.
So far so good?
The same goes with Salesforce. If the company is using SalesForce, they would love to have a candidate who is already familiar with the software.
Let’s say you are applying for a role that you know requires SalesForce, and maybe it’s not openly written in the job description but you know it will be asked in the interview. If I were you, even if I have no experience in SalesForce, I would still put it in my resume, but then I would get a trial account and go through all the tutorials before the interview date comes.
This applies to everything else. If they call you in for an interview, they usually won’t call you in tomorrow. They will schedule you with at least a week’s advance notice.
That’s plenty of time to master most software and tools if you put in the effort.
If you put in the work, find out about these tools in advance, then mention them in your resume. I guarantee you, you will increase your chances significantly.
Mentioning these specific skills will help you the most with the hiring manager.
Remember, the decision maker is always the hiring manager. It’s never the HR.
HR simply acts as a filtering mechanism so hiring managers won’t have to waste hundreds of hours finding qualified candidates. This is a dying practice and some consulting and multinational companies have started to abandon this practice. I won’t be surprised if, within 3 years, only practicing consultants are interviewing candidates with no involvement from HR. But that’s another topic for another day.
Going back, it’s a very common occurrence that the hiring manager and HR will disagree on a candidate. One of the reasons being they look for different aspects.
The hiring manager knows all the details and the specifics of what the job needs (that are too long to list in a half-a-page job post…just like I explained above).
HR, on the other hand, evaluates your resume based only on the requirements in the job post.
So, if you attended HR interviews and failed, the primary reason may be because the hiring manager looked at your CV afterwards and wasn’t satisfied with what he saw. Therefore, he didn’t invite you for a follow-up interview. You didn’t actually fail the HR; you may have, in fact, passed that stage. But you failed the hiring manager’s CV review.
This is very important for you to understand, so you can use this to your advantage.
Just like the tools I mentioned above, there are certain skills that only the hiring manager would be looking for.
So, for example, if you are applying for an accounting role, make sure you mention which accounting principles and programs you are skilled at: local GAAP, IFRS, etc.
Make sure you go as specific as you can with your resume skills. It will make a world of difference.
One final tip before I finish the article, if you’d like to gain a massive edge in your application and instantly separate your resume from 1000s of others, then I strongly suggest you taken an initiative and leave standard form of representing your skills.
I suggest you make an attachment to your word document resume with a 1-page PowerPoint slide to properly present your skills. The below slide is a perfect template to do just that;
You can also use this show your weaknesses in a very neat way.
If you’d like, you can download this PowerPoint template here
That’s it for now.
To sum up what’s been covered in this article:
- Listing soft skills is a waste of resume space. Demonstrate these in the interview, not in the resume.
- Don't just rely on the skills listed in a job post.
- Do your research and look for the "unwritten requirements" of the Hiring Manager.
- Be specific with the hard skills you put in your resume.
If you are interested in a further training, I have an awesome free masterclass video training called Landing Interviews Guaranteed. In this course, I will walk you through how to prepare, pass, and land interviews with multinational companies.
This is a short video of what I say about it:
P.S. Would you do me a favor? If you think you found great value from this article, can you then please share it with your network? The SHARE buttons are on the left. Thanks! If you share it on LinkedIn, please remember to add me to your LinkedIn connections. In fact, you may want to browse through my connections in LinkedIn as well. I have many connections who are executive recruiters.