300+ Must-Have Skills to Put on Your Resume in 2020

What resume skills applicants most often use? We analyzed insights from more than 1 000 000 resumes to help you reinvent the skill section of your resume. Use these 300+ example skills to put on your resume and increase your chances of landing a job interview.

Resume Skill Examples: The Right Mix of Hard Skills & Soft Skills

Hard skills are very specific abilities for each job or industry. You gain them through learning in school and extracurricular classes, or through job experience.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are specific and typical to each person, thus recruiters consider them invaluable once found. Soft skills can be used in any job industry, and often help in doing your job better.

Candidates with the right combo of hard and soft skills create a match between what their skill set and experience, and the company’s needs. This is called value proposition.

According to a 2018 job outlook report by National Association of Colleges and Employers, companies seek the following skills on applicant resumes:

Top In-Demand Job Skills on Resumes:

  • Problem-solving
  • Team work
  • Written communication skills
  • Leadership
  • Work ethic
  • Analytical skills
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Initiative
  • Detail-oriented skills
  • Adaptability
  • Technical skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Strategic planning
  • Creativity
  • Friendly personality
  • Tactfulness
  • Risk-taking
  • Language fluency

Source: Job Outlook 2018 by NACE

PRO TIPTake lists with a grain of salt - while those are statistically most wanted skills, you shouldn’t just use them directly in your resume without any support of your claims. Instead, read the tactics below and decide which are the most relevant skills for you.

How to List Skills on Your Resume

Study the company and match the job description

Before you list every single skill you’ve got, hear this - do you want to send your potential employer a document with irrelevant information? Instead, read the job description carefully, pinpoint the skills and abilities that match your own and write those down.

In addition, explore the company further through its website or social media profiles and learn more about its culture. You’ll be surprised to find other touchpoints you have between that you couldn’t find in the job offer.

Let’s say, a job description for a Mechanical Engineer may feature the following skills and experiences:

  • Must be customer-focused, multi-tasker and detail-oriented
  • Strong CAD skills with a focus on AutoCAD
  • Experience in industrial design and knowledge of ACME is always a plus
  • Must possess strong self-organisation skills
  • Great verbal and written communication skills
  • A minimum of Bachelor’s degree in Engineering/Industrial Design or equivalent

Therefore, you will have to include skills, like:

  • Customer focus
  • Multi-tasking
  • Detail-oriented
  • CAD
  • Industrial Design
  • Acme
  • Organisation
  • Communication

Use the STAR methodology to talk about your skills and experiences

STAR stands for situation - task - action - result and it’s a term recruiters use to describe your relevant experience by providing a bigger picture as to what specific actions you did and how they resulted in a benefit for the company. Oftentimes, those statements of yours are shown with numbers to speak the language of the business.

Here’s an example:

  • Situation: a devops engineer for a finance website
  • Task: eliminate poor website performance during peak hours (stock opening hours)
  • Activity: migrated the existing website’s database to a more optimal noSQL solution
  • Result: reduced complaints rate to 3% and 100% website uptime during peak visit hours

Run every single line of your resume through the STAR method. Quantify your achievements whenever possible.

Select where to place your skills

Depending on your level of experience or career stage, you can go about several ways.

Write a summary of qualifications

A resume summary is a short paragraph that delves into your top skills you gained throughout your career, which are most relevant for the job you are applying for. It sits at the top of your resume, just after the name and contact data. Perfect for career switch or when you’ve got employment gaps.

Summary
A CPA with 8 years experience at Ernst & Young conducting preparation for federal tax audits, and corporate tax work. Reported directly to our CFO and received departmental awards for innovation and ability to lead and motivate teams.

Create a separate skills section

Highlight several important skills can set you up from the rest of the applicants. Look at how a visual resume builder like Enhancv makes a difference:

Strengths
Management
Provided training and support for a team of five entry-level accountants
Decision making
Updated a stale 5-year-old company process which resulted in 50% increase in weekly jobs done by team
Collaboration
Initiated and led communication between accounting and sales in order to improve processes between departments
Technologies
Accounting & Finance
Month-end close processAccount reconciliationFinancial statementsFinancial reporting

Include your skills in your experience

Whatever you do, make sure your experience section does not contain a simple copy-paste of your previous job descriptions. Write down how you’ve used specific skills to achieve goals using the STAR method again.

Experience
Senior Accounting SpecialistSoft Ltd.
02/2015 - Ongoing
Los Angeles, CA
Significantly reduced past due receivables from $7M to $5M within four months, accelerating cash flow
Reduced company costs 50% through centralized purchasing
Trained and supervised more than 4 summer interns each for a period of 3 weeks

Map Your Skill Proficiency

You’ve probably seen those fancy charts and level bars on resumes. They’ve become overused and untrustworthy mainly because candidates apply an arbitrary assessment of their skills.

Instead, we are going to introduce you to one of the few widely accepted frameworks to evaluate your skill level - published by the National Institutes of Health.

Use that framework as a reference point for evaluating your skills - and thus, showing your right level of competency on your resume.

  • Fundamental knowledge - you’ve got common knowledge on basic concepts and theories. You’re expected to still learn the ropes around that skill.
  • Beginner - your level of experience with this skill is at a school/university level or just after a traineeship period. You’re expected to receive help from more experienced people.
  • Intermediate - you can operate this skill almost independently, and will require an expert eye from time to time. You’ve applied the skill in practice with minimal guidance and interference from seniors.
  • Advanced - you’re one of the few immediate choices for “a person to ask” about a problem or idea associated with that particular skill. You’ve applied your knowledge in practice multiple times and you can teach others how to use it, too.
  • Expert - you’re widely recognised as one of the highest authority figures in this skill area in your own organisation, and, oftentimes, outside of it, too. You’ve consistently demonstrated excellent application of that particular skill.

Source: NIH

PRO TIPCompetence levels are mostly appropriate for hard skills, as soft skills are hardly measurable in any way measurable. Don’t make the mistake of saying you’re an expert in verbal communication or have advanced levels of paying attention.

Get more inspiration

No spam, just information that will help you build a resume that makes you feel relevant and well represented.