Putting skills on a resume is a great way to show hiring managers what you can do for them, while also including relevant keywords on your resume. However, there’s one BIG mistake that I’ve seen many job seekers make with their skills section on a resume… and it can cost them the interview.

So in this article, we’re going to look at real-life examples of resume skills sections, how to write this section and come up with ideas of skills to list, and the biggest mistake to avoid if you want to get the interview.

Let’s get started…

What Are Resume Skills?

Usually, job postings include a bullet list of role requirements that each feature a certain skill, skill set, aptitude, or ability. 

If you imagine each of those role requirements as a question (which they essentially are), for example, “Can you leverage project management software to keep your projects, tasks, and team on track?” or “Can you exercise active listening skills when handling client complaints?”, then the skills section of your resume is where you’ll provide the answers. For example:

Hard Skills: 

  • Monday/Asana/Wrike 
  • Project/task/team management
  • Customer complaints resolution

Soft Skills:

  • Active listening
  • Problem-solving
  • Leadership

The skills, competencies or core-competencies section of your resume is where you’ll answer those essential questions ‘asked’ in the job post. It’s where you’ll list your hard and soft skills, giving hiring managers a quick-glance guide to how closely your abilities match the role requirements. 

That’s why it’s so essential that you study the role requirements carefully (sometimes skills lists are included in job posts too) for each post you apply to. You’ll need to adjust your skills section to suit the role/skill requirements of each role you apply to, including hard and soft skills that are relevant to that specific post.

Best skills to put on a resume

 There are a number of strong transferable skills that you can include for most roles. These are the best skills (or, more specifically, skill sets) to put on a resume because they transfer from role to role, industry to industry. Some of these transferable skills are soft skills and some are hard skills–but what’s the difference? Well, let’s take a quick look at these two lists of transferable skills:

Hard Skills:

  • Digital skills
  • Design skills
  • Project management skills
  • Data analysis skills
  • Customer service skills
  • Language skills
  • Content writing skills
  • Marketing

Soft Skills:

  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Creativity skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Teamwork skills

Spot the difference? Hard skills are technical, knowledge-based, measurable skills that are gained through academic training, professional training, active work experience, and courses. Soft skills are interpersonal, habitual, mental, and emotional skills that are either natural aptitudes, personal qualities, or learned through first-hand experience at home, at work, and with others.

Now, you may think that hard skills are by far the most important and, to an extent, you are right, as employers tend to place more value on measurable, technical skills, but it all depends on the industry. You’ll soon see that soft skills are really important too, particularly those listed in our transferable skills list.

Resume Skills Section Guide With Examples

Let’s look at some good examples of resume Skills sections (which you can also name “Core Competencies,” “Professional Skills,” etc.) Your goal when writing this resume section is to highlight your most relevant skills for the job, all in one place. So you want the list to be easy to read. I suggest one or two columns.

And you don’t just want to list random skills. And you don’t want to list the same skills for every job! You really want to research the job and company (starting with the job description) and put the skills and keywords THEY mention. This is called “tailoring” your resume and will immediately boost the number of interviews you receive. I wrote a guide on the easiest way to do this HERE. (It’s much easier than people think).

So you really need to be looking at the specific job description for keywords.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to put together your Skills section. Here are some sample Skills sections so you can see what it might look like:

Resume Skills Section Example #1:

resume skills section example

This resume skills section example is for a salesperson. You can see it contains a lot of keywords, and also highlights what this person is best at. That’s what you should aim to do.

Remember, don’t just guess which skills and keywords the employer wants. Study the job description.

Resume Skills Section Example #2:

example of a resume skills section

This is another example of a simple layout for this section on your resume, this time using two columns.

Choose a format that is simple and not distracting. You want the employer’s attention to be on your skills and qualifications, not on your resume’s formatting.


If you take one idea away from these sample skill sections of a resume, it should be that the section is meant to be simple and clutter-free, and should only feature your top relevant skills for the jobs you’re pursuing now. It’s not a place to list every single skill you’ve ever used, and it shouldn’t have as much content as other, more important, sections like your resume work experience.

What Skills to Put on a Resume

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of those hard and soft transferable skills I mentioned above, to see why they really are the best skills to put on your resume. Let’s start with the soft skills because, even if you’ve never had a job or skills training, there’s a good chance you already have many of these skills.

Soft Skills:

Communication skills:

These skills are essential to almost all roles because they allow you to receive and share ideas effectively. These skills are applied through a range of channels and may include both soft skills (like active listening) and hard skills (like social media writing). Communication skills include listening skills, verbal skills, body-language skills, visual skills, and contextual (or versatility) skills like cross-cultural, academic, crisis, professional, and online communication skills.

Problem-solving skills:

Most roles will see you encountering problems at some point, that’s one of the reasons work can be stressful. Some roles are all about finding and making innovative solutions to problems. Problem-solving skills may include methodologies and various hard skills, but they’re also about the soft skills of defining problems, prioritizing issues, determining  causes, brainstorming solutions, considering alternatives, and implementing solutions.

Creativity skills:

These skills come naturally to some but, in general, can be learned by simply applying yourself to creative pursuits. Aside from the artistic side, however, creativity is a thinking skill that allows you to think outside the box, innovate solutions, imagine new concepts and ideas, and generally do things in an open-minded, original way. This is highly prized by employers who are trying to set their brand apart through creative, innovative products and services. 

Organizational skills:

Organizational skills refer to your ability to manage yourself, your time, and your productivity efficiently and effectively. They’re vital to employers because they indicate that you have a systematic, goal-oriented approach to working. Unless you have the ability to manage your calendar, your time, your thoughts, and your duties in a functional and efficient manner, you will be difficult to manage or rely on, and you certainly won’t be able to manage others.

Leadership skills:

Some simply have a natural tendency to lead, while others seem ready to follow them–this is important to employers, as few things are more costly than an ineffective leader. Leadership skills, however, can be learned over time, and include a range of other hard and soft skills like communication, critical thinking, versatility, conflict management, relationship building, decisiveness, delegation, project management, and more.

Teamwork skills:

Teamwork skills are vital to all interactive and collaborative job roles, as they allow you to work efficiently and effectively with others. Teamwork skills are very much a blend of communication and interpersonal skills, but there are specific soft skills, like collaboration, empathy, honesty, and integrity that will determine whether you can thrive in a team setting.

Hard Skills:

Digital skills:

In 2023 and beyond, you’d be hard pressed to find a business that doesn’t rely largely on digital interaction and processes to get their products and services to market. So, adding digital skills means that employers will know that you can use a tablet, computer, mobile phone, and the internet to communicate, research, transact, manage tasks, and create. Examples of hard digital skills include market research, social media marketing, SEO, email marketing, digital project management, software development, and much more.

Design skills:

Design skills start with foresight and imagination, and the ability to envision things that aren’t yet made. In that way, they are similar to creative skills. Other than that, design skills include a range of hard skills that depend on your profession, including coding abilities, branding skills, typography skills, architectural software skills, Adobe apps skills, Illustration skills, physics and engineering skills, and more. Design skills are vital to jobs that involve product innovation, marketing, and more.

Project management skills:

Whether you’re applying for a post in marketing, product or service development, or something like events planning, project management skills are those skills that allow you to take a project (often requiring numerous employees and teams) all the way from ideation to completion. There are a range of factors involved and a number of hard and soft skills. Examples of PM skills include budgeting, scope planning, risk assessment stakeholder communication, problem-solving, team leadership, delegation, digital project management administration, and more.

Data analysis skills:

Data analysis skills are important because they allow you to absorb, quantify, categorize, analyze, collate, and draw conclusions from data such as statistics, sales figures, customer queries and complaints, product tests, and more. Data analysis skills are essential to a range of roles and include hard and soft skills such as math, statistics, calculus, linear algebra, detail orientation, logical thought, troubleshooting, speed reading, database management, data mining, and more.

Customer service skills:

Customer service skills are your ability to offer knowledge and support to prospective and existing customers and to act as the face of a business. As such, these are essential skills through a range of businesses. Core customer service skills include soft skills like discernment and emotional intelligence, communications skills, and persuasion skills, and hard skills like SaaS support, POS skills, FOH skills, outbound call skills, product/industry knowledge skills, and more.

Language skills:

Language skills include proficiency in native and foreign language reading, writing, listening, and speaking, and they can be included among communication skills as well. In today’s globalized world and online marketplace, multilingual skills are in high demand. Employers are often willing to pay more for multilingual candidates, especially in fields like international business, hospitality, tourism, human resources, and more. Language skills are, however, largely made up of hard skills because language proficiency is a technical and measurable skill set. Correct use and grasp of grammar, syntax, tone, diction, vocabulary, and contextual language are essential in the professional world because they allow you to absorb and offer information in a way that is more accurate, conclusive, concise, and business-like. 

Content writing skills:

Incorporating many of the language skills mentioned above, content writing includes knowledge of formats, annotation systems, referencing skills, and tonal parameters that apply to all different types of business, sales, and marketing content. Companies value content writing skills because, using hard skills like a knowledge of online content formats, research and referencing, SEO, and sales funneling, a content writer can target, engage, and convert new customers, while retaining existing ones with regular, high-value content.

Marketing skills:

Marketing is a powerful skill set that incorporates other skills like content writing, customer service, data analysis, communication, creativity, and problem solving. Marketing allows businesses to target markets, figure out how to appeal to and reach those markets, then effectively (and in conjunction with content writers, web designers, and other key members) funnel clients down the path to conversion. Marketing includes a broad range of highly technical hard skills as well, including UX design, CRM, CMS, CRO, marketing automation, social media and ad marketing, PPC, SEO, SEM, and more.

How Many Resume Skills Should You Put?

The number of skills to include on your resume will depend on the job you’re applying for, your industry, and your experience level. For example, an experienced software engineer may list 20 skills. However, for an entry-level job seeker, 8-10 skills are sufficient, and any more than that will be unlikely to be read by a hiring manager or recruiter.

Also, someone in a less technical field (like sales or customer service) might only need 8-10 skills on their resume, even if they have a few years of experience.

Overall, my recommendation as a recruiter is that you should have somewhere between 8 and 20 skills on your resume. You should list both hard and soft skills, but it’s more important to include hard skills. These are the skills that hiring managers look for first and foremost on your resume; soft skills are secondary.

More Ideas of Skills to Include

If you’ve read the tips above and are still thinking, “I don’t have enough key skills to put on my resume,” here are a few ideas to help you… Along with looking at the job description for the role you’re applying for, you can also look at job descriptions for roles you’ve previously held. Which skills did you use most?

Look at current or most recent work, too. What did your typical week look like? Sit down and think about which skills you used the most throughout a normal week. Remember to think about hard skills and soft skills. That should help you come up with more ideas.

You can also look at LinkedIn’s list of skills that are available for your LinkedIn profile. (LinkedIn suggests skills when you go edit this section of your profile).

You can look at peers/colleagues on LinkedIn, too, to see which skills they’ve chosen! Look at a few current coworkers, for example. Which skills are they mentioning? Those are good skills to list on your LinkedIn and your resume, too. The LinkedIn skills section is a great way to get resume ideas overall.

You can also learn something new that will make you more attractive to employers…

I recommend doing this by taking a course via LinkedIn Learning and then adding it to your resume Skills section). This is a great option if you’re job searching after being unemployed because it shows employers you’re keeping your skills current and staying active.

You can learn soft skills like body language (this could help you if you’re in sales, customer service, etc.) or hard skills like front-end web development, social media management, and more.

Warning: Employers Want to See Where You Used Each Skill, Too

In general, employers want to see where and when you used each skill (especially for hard skills). So don’t just rely on a Skills section. You should put equal (or more) time into writing your work experience section and your resume bullets).

Also, put effort into your resume summary paragraph.

I typically read those sections first as a recruiter. That’s where I can see which key skills you’ve used most in your career. In fact, even if you put your skills section very high up on a resume, I usually skip it and only return to read it AFTER I check out your recent work experience and bullets!

The bottom line is: Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to see a big list of skills with no reference to where each skill was used… at least not at first. And they especially do not want to see a long list of soft skills. They’re mostly looking for hard skills and key skills from the job posting when they first glance at your resume.

So keep this in mind when writing your skills list. The hiring manager might skip it and look for your experience section first.

This resume section still has value – as a secondary place to show off your abilities and core competencies, and as a place to fill your resume with great keywords so you can get past the ATS (applicant tracking system). But the biggest mistake I see job seekers making is relying on the skills section too much to get interviews or get the employer’s attention.

Be Prepared to Answer Interview Questions About the Skills You’ve Listed

If you say you’re an expert in Phone Sales, Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Customer Service, or any other hard skill… you need to be ready to defend this in an interview. If you say you’ve done a lot of time management, be prepared with examples. If you say problem solving is one of your strengths, be ready to back it up with a success story!

They’re going to want to know where you used that skill and details about how you used it and what results you got in recent jobs. And if you say you’re an “expert” at something, they might ask what makes you an expert. So if you’re not an expert or highly proficient, don’t say you are. You can still list the skill, but don’t exaggerate and go overboard by saying “expert.”

I made this mistake early in my career and it cost me the job! I said the word “expert” when describing my Microsoft Excel skills, and they asked me about it in an interview and I completely crumbled. I wasn’t an expert and I wasn’t ready to defend why I had said that on my skills list.

Also, don’t list skills you’ve never used. Even if they do hire you, you could immediately be fired if they discover you lied about your skills in your interview. Lying in your job search is usually not a good tactic. So be honest when listing skills on your resume, and review your own resume as you prepare for the interview so you’re not caught off-guard by the interview questions they ask.

You should be ready to answer questions related to any or all skills mentioned in your resume skills section – both soft and hard skills.

Recap: Putting the Right Skills in a Resume

  1. Choose 8-20 skills, depending on your industry and level of experience
  2. Put mostly hard skills and skills that relate directly to the employer’s job
  3. Avoid putting too many soft skills; employers will judge this primarily in the interview and aren’t looking for soft skills as much on your resume
  4. Whenever listing a hard skill, make sure to also mention it on your work experience; employers want to see where you used each skill, too, and this is how to show them
  5. Use the job description to identify important skills for this position
  6. Include exact phrases from the job description to improve your chances of getting past automated job application systems
  7. If you need more ideas for which skills to put, review past jobs you’ve held and/or look at peers on LinkedIn to see skills they’ve chosen
  8. Use one or two columns, and simple formatting to make your Skills section easy to read
  9. Never put your Skills section before your Employment History section on your resume
  10. If you’re an entry-level job seeker, never put your Skills section before your Education section
  11. Be prepared to answer interview questions about any and all skills you’ve listed on your resume

If you read the tips above, you now know how to write a great skills section of a resume, including examples of what it should look like.

You also know the other important pieces to focus on, like your resume work experience. If you follow these guidelines that I shared, you’ll get more interviews and get noticed by better employers in your job search.