Microsoft Word. Six Sigma. Spanish. Python. Cake decorating. What are good skills to put on a resume?

These are all examples of skills our Lucas Group recruiters have seen on resumes over the years– some of which are critical and some of which are downright unnecessary. Listing the wrong resume skills not only wastes valuable space but also hurts your credibility in the eyes of an experienced hiring manager. Your skill section needs to be concise and focused: zeroing in on the most vital skills for a role and clearly connecting these skills back to the value you’ll be bringing your prospective employer.

So, what are good skills to put on your resume and which ones should you avoid? Keep these essential dos and don’ts in mind:

DON’T include skills that everyone has. We’re looking at you, Microsoft Word. Some recruiters have even seen applicants list “Internet” and “Email” as skills– yikes! This same principle applies to skills like “multi-tasking”, “works well under pressure”, and “dedicated work ethic.” These skills are musts for any successful professional and there’s no need to spell them out. Instead, let your references speak to your outstanding work ethic and ability to perform under pressure with a compelling anecdote about the late hours you worked to fix a project that had gone off the rails.

DO connect your skills back to the job. Skills on their own don’t solve problems. It’s how you apply a skill that makes a difference. Always tie a skill back to an outcome that underscores the benefits you’ll bring to your new employer. Include examples that illustrate your proficiency. If your skill is related to a software platform, for example, make it clear that you’re up to date on the latest version’s capabilities and limitations.

DON’T include a skill you don’t have. This should go without saying (right?) but do not list a skill unless you actually have it. In Manufacturing, for example, Six Sigma is one of the most in-demand skills. Reading about Six Sigma online or watching a webinar, however, is not the same as actually being certified. Sure, including this skill may help you make it past the first screening round, but once interviewers start drilling down on your experience, it will become obvious you don’t truly know what you’re talking about. That’s definitely not the impression you want to make during an interview.

DO be careful when listing languages. Slightly overstating your foreign languages proficiency is harmless, right? Think again. Unless you’re prepared for an interviewee to ask you questions in Spanish, don’t claim a “working familiarity with Spanish” on your resume. The same goes for coders and developers; only list programming languages unless you’re comfortable coding in.

For more resume tips, be sure to check out the following blog:


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