How to write the skills section on your resume

When it comes to your resume, career experts agree: The most important section is your “experience” section. That’s where you get to prove to a prospective employer that you have the background to excel at their open position. Make sure to include bullets that outline exactly what you did in each role with numbers that illustrate your accomplishments.

Once you’ve finished writing that section, don’t neglect the others. Your skills and education sections help underscore what you have to bring as a candidate. And when it comes to your skills section, there are several points to consider, like placement and which skills to include.

Here’s how career experts recommend writing it.

‘It’s more common to have it near the education section’

First, your skills section can go in two different places: at the top of your resume under your summary (if you choose to include one) or at the bottom below your education section.

“It’s more common to have it near the education section at the bottom part of your resume,” says Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster. But either way is fine.

‘You’ve got to pick six’

You also don’t want to list too many, say experts.

“You’ve got to pick six skills that you are truly top of game,” says Julie Bauke, founder and chief career strategist with The Bauke Group. Think about what skills you have, then think about what skills you know will make you stand out as a candidate per the job description and narrow it down to those.  

Salemi would narrow it down even further. “I wouldn’t have more than three or four top skills that are coveted by the employer,” she says.

Avoid ‘verbal vomit’

When it comes to what to write in your skills section, avoid broad, generic words and phrases such as “sales,” “customer relations,” “marketing strategies” and “public speaking.” A list of four to six of these can look like “verbal vomit,” says Bauke.

They make it seem like you’re “trying to be everything to everybody,” she says.

Many of the skills employers are looking for can be listed in your experience section. For instance, if the job calls for customer service skills, you might include a bullet under a previous job illustrating how many customer problems you solved every day. If it calls for public speaking, you might include a bullet about how often you gave presentations to your team.

What the skills section should be used for is to list technical skills.

“Let’s say you have a special certification that wasn’t necessarily a higher education degree like a bachelor’s degree,” says Salemi, like a certificate from an online training in marketing. That’s what you would include in your skills section. If you’re fluent in another language, that would go in that section, too.  

Think of the skills you have that didn’t fit as bullets under your previous work experience and that put you “head and shoulders above other candidates,” says Salemi, and include those.

Check out:

3 strategies for writing a resume that will ‘instantly impress’ any hiring manager, according to a recruiting expert

Don’t forget this key section of your resume—it’s your first chance to impress hiring managers

How to format your resume the right way, according to experts: ‘The standard template is 3 sections’

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