Every Question You Have About Your Skills Section, Answered (2024)

When you’re trying to keep your resume length down to accommodate that one-page limit, your skills section may seem like a prime contender for the chopping block. You might wonder why you ever included one in the first place. After all, it’s full of information that can be gleaned from other parts of your application, right?

Not so fast! Before you axe your resume skills section to make more space, read on to get the full picture of what you’d be giving up. And once you’re convinced not to scrap it, find out what types of skills you should include on a resume, how you should format a dedicated skills section, and how to figure the right skills for each job application.

Why do I need a skills section?

Overall, your resume skills section gives your application a nice optimization bump for both the human and digital review process. The whole point of keeping your resume concise is to allow a recruiter or hiring manager to figure out the value you could create for the company after just a quick skim.

For certain roles, it can be a nonstarter for a candidate to not have specific skills. You can’t be a ballerina if you don’t know how to dance, obviously, just like you won’t get a front-end developer role if you don’t know HTML.

Outside of these situations, however, the hiring managers I’ve spoken to are looking at the big picture. Monica Orta, a hiring manager at the MIT Media Lab, says the skills section gives her “a sense of the suite of skills a person has—it’s another way to look at their experience and helps paint a fuller picture.” They’re trying to connect the dots, and skills help fill in the gaps a bit.

Another reality of the job application process is the ubiquity of applicant tracking systems (ATS)—software that most employers use to organize and parse candidate resumes. Keyword scanning is one way an ATS flags resumes for closer review, and a skills section, conveniently, can serve as an extra block of relevant keywords.

What do I include in my skills section?

Hiring managers are trying to pull together a story about you, so the first rule is that your skills section should match the experience you’ve written about in your resume.

Here’s what you should include:

Skills relevant tothis job

Each job will require different skills to be successful, so each skills section you write will be a bit different as well. But how do you figure out the right combination of skills for a particular job application? Check the answer key!

That is, print out the job description of the role you’re interested in and take a highlighter to it (or copy and paste it into a doc and highlight there), marking any skills you see listed that you have. Then, make sure these skills are listed on your resume. For example, here’s a job description with some of the key skills bolded:

Email Marketing Manager


  • Manage email marketing strategy and calendar
  • Monitor, analyze, and report on campaign performance
  • Improve campaign success through conversion optimization, A/B testing, segmentation, and more
  • Collaborate with the design and editorial teams to maintain consistent brand and voice across platforms
  • Work cross-functionally with sales, product, product marketing, and data teams


  • 3+ years in email marketing
  • Experience with content management systems and email service providers such as MailChimp or Constant Contact
  • Experience with Google Analytics, HTML, CSS, Photoshop, Microsoft Excel, and SEO a plus
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Team player with strong interpersonal, relationship-building, and stakeholder management skills
  • Excellent problem solving and time management skills

And here’s a list of skills you might include in your skills section if you were applying to the job:

Conversion optimization, A/B testing, segmentation, MailChimp, Constant Contact, Google Analytics, HTML, CSS, Photoshop, Microsoft Excel, SEO

All of that is just from one job description. Even better, find a few different job postings for the kind of role you’re interested in. Then, start looking for common skills among the different postings. These are the skills you definitely want on your resume—and likely in your skills section.

When crafting your skills section, pay particular attention to skills that the employer is looking for, but haven’t necessarily been part of your daily job. Perhaps you took an online course on how to use InDesign or independently studied web design and HTML for your personal website. These skills will be absent from your experience section, which means the skills section is a great place to highlight them.

Hard skills

Your resume skills section should mainly be reserved for your hard skills. Think programming languages, business or design software, analytics programs, subject-matter expertise, or even carpentry skills—anything that can be taught, defined, and measured.

Hiring managers often consider soft skills (like teamwork, communication, time management, and leadership) to be just as important as hard skills, if not more so. That said, these skills are not often included in a separate skills section since they’re usually intangible and harder to evaluate. While your soft skills are incredibly important, they’re better portrayed (and more believable) if you give them some context. So save your soft skills for resume bullets and your cover letter, where you can tell a story that shows them in action.

Read More: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What the Heck Is the Difference?

Bonus skills that show your passion

You can also add skills that will show how passionate you are about the job. For example, one hiring manager I know in tech finds it interesting and noteworthy to see skills that are kind of esoteric, but still relevant. Functional programming languages in particular always catch his eye. To him, it indicates that the candidate has a keen interest in programming and possibly went out of their way to learn it on their own. That’s a pretty efficient way to show your enthusiasm—listing a juicy, related, but kind-of-obscure skill.

Read More:The Right Way to Add Skills to Your Resume (With 250+ Example Skills)

What shouldn’tI include in my skills section?

Here’s what doesn't belong in your skills section:

  • Irrelevant skills: Particularly for people who are pivoting to another career, it can be a good branding move to not include the skills you don’t want to use anymore, especially if they’re not relevant or inherently interesting. For example, if you’re an executive assistant who wants to move into diversity and inclusion work, you probably don’t want to list all the flight booking and calendaring tools you’re familiar with. If you must include these skills in your experience section to accurately describe your previous roles, that’s fine, but don’t reiterate them in your skills section.
  • Very basic skills: There’s generally no need to put “Microsoft Word” or similar on your resume, unless the job description specifically lists this skill.
  • Skills you don’t have: Listing skills on a resume implies you’re confident in your abilities. So you should also leave off anything that you’re still working on or don’t feel comfortable training someone else in (like foreign languages you haven’t spoken since high school).
  • Unrelated hobbies: You might be an amazing knitter, but that probably doesn’t belong in your skills section if you’re applying to be a social media manager for a hotel chain. (You can always include these kinds of hobbies under “Interests,” of course.)

How do I write a skills section?

Hopefully, at this point you’ve been convinced to keep your skills section intact and perhaps even to add a couple things you hadn’t thought of before. But how do you best present all this important information in a way that isn’t just a jumble of keywords? That might be okay for an ATS, but no human being wants to read that. So follow these steps:

1. Group your skills.

Sort your skills into reasonable categories, then name each group of skills something appropriate. Think of subheadings as beautiful things that make even the most unruly mess of words look sleek and organized. For example, if you happen to be multilingual, a good subheading for all the languages you speak would be, unsurprisingly, “Languages.” Or if you’re a designer who also codes, label your sections “Design” and “Technical.”

2. Format your skills section so it’s easy to read.

For example, you might put each category on a new line with the subheading in bold at the beginning of the list. Even though this section is short, it still needs to be easy to skim. Bullets and subheadings prompt the reader to start reading again.

3. Decide where to place your skills section.

Generally a skills section lives at the bottom of a resume. It’s meant to reiterate or summarize what the reader learned from your experience section. There are some exceptions though. If you’re a career changer who’s been slowly accumulating the necessary skills for a shift, for example, it might make sense to move this section up to a more prominent spot on your resume—possibly even the top—to create a hybrid, functional, or skills-based resume. If you work in a technical field where hard skills are paramount, you might also want to put your skills section at the top.

Example skills section

Here’s an example of a good skills section for someone who is looking for work as a designer:


Visual Design: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere, XD, Animate, Lightroom
3D Modeling & 2D Drafting: Rhino, VRay, AutoCAD, Vectorworks, Autodesk Fusion 360
Programming: Grasshopper, Processing, HTML, CSS

Regina Borsellino also contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.

Every Question You Have About Your Skills Section, Answered (2024)


What is the purpose of a skills section in a resume answer? ›

The skills section of your resume shows employers you have the abilities required to succeed in the role. Often, employers pay special attention to the skills section of your resume to determine if you should move on to the next step of the hiring process.

How to do the skills section of a resume? ›

How do you organize skills on a resume?
  1. Write skills in a bullet list.
  2. Use an expanded bullet list where you explain about every skill.
  3. List skills under your work experience section.
  4. Outline skills under different skill categories.
Dec 22, 2023

How to answer can you tell us about any skills or experience that might be helpful in this job? ›

Follow these tips when describing what skills you can bring to the company you're interviewing with to join:
  • Research the company before your interview. ...
  • Show them what makes you unique. ...
  • Focus on key requirements for the job. ...
  • Keep your answer concise. ...
  • Know what traits employers look for.
Mar 10, 2023

How do you say what skills you have? ›

When asked about your skills, be honest and specific. If you're not sure about a particular skill, say so. For example, "I'm not sure how to use Excel, but I'm willing to learn." Be confident in your abilities, but don't oversell yourself.

What do you put in the skills section on indeed? ›

Some of the most important skills to put on CVs include:
  • Active Listening.
  • Communication.
  • Computer Skills.
  • Customer Service.
  • Interpersonal Skills.
  • Leadership.
  • Management Skills.
  • Problem-Solving.
Aug 1, 2023

Do I explain my skills on a resume? ›

Listing your skills before your experience section will color the way your whole resume is reviewed and help tell your career story. If you work in a technical field where hard skills are paramount, you might also want to put your skills section at the top.

What is your skill set answer? ›

When discussing your skills, mention both technical expertise and soft skills. Employers often prefer candidates who can work well with others and adapt to different situations. Discuss your learning mindset. Express your willingness to learn and adapt to new situations, as this is useful in fast-paced industries.

What are top 6 skills? ›

Six of the most important skills, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) are problem-solving skills, the ability to work in a team, a strong work ethic, analytical and quantitative skills, communication skills, and leadership qualities.

What is a skill example? ›

Some examples of soft skills are adaptability, self-motivation, people skills, time management, and the ability to work under pressure.

Can you tell us about any skills or experience examples? ›

What skills do you have for this job?
  • My ability to multitask would mesh well with your work environment.
  • Last year I got a new degree in graphic design.
  • My qualifications align with the job description.
  • I believe I would make a great impact on the company by utilizing my problem-solving skills.

How do you talk about skills in an interview example? ›

Here are seven things you should say in an interview.
  • I Am Very Familiar With What Your Company Does. ...
  • I Am Flexible. ...
  • I Am Energetic and Have a Positive Attitude. ...
  • I Have a Great Deal of Experience. ...
  • I Am a Team Player. ...
  • I Am Seeking to Become an Expert in My Field. ...
  • I Am Highly Motivated.

How your experience and skills make you the best fit for this position? ›

💡 Example answer

My skill set matches all the requirements laid out in the job description. In particular, my ability to work to tight deadlines and manage my time effectively make me a good fit for the role.

How to describe my skills sample? ›

Responsible and complete tasks on time. Quick thinker with good communication skills. Dependable in following directions and schedules. Work well under pressure and always get the job done.

How do I write about my knowledge skills and abilities? ›

How to write a KSA statement
  1. Prepare a short summary or range of appropriate skills in the relevant area. Review the job description to gather the requirements for the role. ...
  2. Describe the situation or context. ...
  3. Explain the task. ...
  4. Describe your actions. ...
  5. Detail the results.
Mar 10, 2023

What is the purpose of a skills section in a resume in Linkedin? ›

Your skills section is one of the most important parts of your resume. It showcases your abilities, qualifications, and achievements that are relevant to the job you want.

What is the purpose of skills? ›

In order to complete tasks successfully, you should have knowledge, ability and competence. These qualities, known as skills, can be developed to help you gain expertise in a specific area. This expertise can translate into greater success in your career and other areas of life.

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