Sitting down to write a resume can be an intimidating experience. You need to decide on a format, a branding statement, how to list your work experience, and of course, how to highlight your skills. There are certain skills to put on a resume that will enhance your chances of landing an interview.
Many larger companies now use applicant tracking systems which will scan for the right keywords and presort resumes. If your resume doesn't have the right keywords human eyes may never read it. Researching and including the right skills can go a long way to remedying this situation. As a professional resume writer much of my time in the initial drafting stage is spent researching the appropriate key skills to include in a client's resume.
Every profession has it's own key skills. If you're in banking, skills like asset based lending, asset management, and branch operations should probably find their way onto your resume. If you are in hospitality the terms amenities, back-of-the-house operations, and catering operations are common. How about IT? Then you should use application development, benchmarking, and capacity planning.
Matching your skills to the position is not just a good way to land an interview, it is also a way to increase your chances of job satisfaction. In Laurence Shatkin's 150 Best Jobs for Your Skills he makes the connection between being good at your job and being happy in it.
Your satisfaction in the job will depend on how well your skills match the job. How happy can you be on the job if you are constantly overwhelmed by your duties? How happy can you be in the job is so lacking in challenge that you are bored most of the time?
However, industry specific skills are not the only type you should include. Chances are your next job will not be precisely like your last, so you need skills that will move from job to job with you. The focus should be on those skills that are transferable to multiple jobs making you viable to a variety of employers.
In Joyce Kennedy's Job Interviews for Dummies she describes these as competencies.
Work-based competencies describe job-specific characteristics, skills, and abilities, such as fluency in the English language, or the ability to read topographical maps.
Behavior-based competencies describe all the other personal stuff you need, in addition to technical skills to do the job well.
List your skills the right way by reinforcing them.
Including transferable skills, or competencies, on your resume allows you to highlight those abilities that have worked for you in the past and contribute to a company or firm's success in the future. However, you can't just list these skills verbatim in a summary section and hope hiring managers believe you. Once you claim a skill you need your resume to reinforce it.
Let's say you list excellent communication skills in your resume summary. Then, in your work history you mention how you helped draft the company training manual for new employees. This pairing creates a powerful image to a potential employer. For each skill you list, do your best to provide evidence later on in your resume to reinforce the claim. This is part of the overall branding process that is vitally important in a tight job market.
A Tip for Older Job Seekers: Keep it Current
The longer your career, the longer the list of skills you have acquired. Be sure to narrowly focus on those skills that target your currently desired position. According to a study by Urban Institute, for those 62 and older, the chance of finding a job within 12 months is just 18 percent. That's reason enough to take care when updating your resume that you aren't signaling to potential employers that you're past your employable prime.
If you are in the IT field don't list the fact that you know Lotus 123. (Yes, I have seen this on resumes countless times!) While you may have spent considerable time and energy learning and using this program it is outdated. Worse still, it dates you. Take care to focus on skills that are either timeless or current to within the past ten years.
In her book, Working Longer: The Solution to Retirement, Alicia Munnell furthers this reality.
Employers of the past have not been eager to retrain or hire older workers, and there is little indication that attitudes have significantly changed.
Whether you are an entry level applicant or an older worker looking to make a change, in order to stand out from the crowd you need to know what skills to put on a resume. The exact skills will vary depending on the brand you are trying to create, but there are some general one that easily transfer to just about any position. Below is a list to get you started, and as always, if you'd like me to look over what you have - completely risk free- just shoot me and email. I'd love to help.
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