Hard Skills for Resumes: A Comprehensive Guide

Hard Skills for Resumes: A Comprehensive Guide

Everything that makes you good at your job boils down to skills, such as experience and education. Hard skills are a large part of that equation, encompassing all your technical, role-specific abilities – so it’s essential to list them on your resume. Identifying the right hard skills for resumes helps you stand out and shows employers why you’re the best candidate for a role. Let’s take a look at which hard skills to put on resumes and how to do it.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills, also called technical skills, are abilities that help people excel in specific tasks. They are non-transferable, measurable, role-specific skills. Common examples of hard skills include programming languages, copywriting, editing, and management skills.

Traditionally, hard skills have been considered more important than soft skills because they directly relate to a job position. They’re concrete and quantifiable, so most hiring managers hold them in higher regard.

What are soft skills? Soft skills are non-technical abilities that transfer between countless different roles, such as communication and empathy.

However, increasingly more employers have seen the merit in hiring candidates with strong soft skills. For more insights, read our accompanying blog post on choosing the right soft skills for resumes.

Why it’s important to list hard skills on resumes

Every job role requires hard skills. Front-end developers need hard skills like HTML and JavaScript, and teachers need hard skills like classroom management and lesson planning.  Recruiters need to know you have the right hard skills and listing them on your resume is your best bet.

But there’s more to it than that. Let’s take a look at the top reasons why it’s important to list hard skills on your resume.

Employers look for them first

Hard skills are usually the first abilities a hiring manager looks for on a resume. Soft skills are important, but job candidates must have essential technical skills to complete a job successfully.

This is especially the case in technical industries. Recruiters will be looking for hard skills like Python, C++, JavaScript, CSS, and jQuery before anything else, so it’s important to present them clearly and prominently. 

Hard skills make you stand out in an ATS

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are tools that help recruiters sort and manage job candidates. This software scans resumes for relevant keywords and brings the best matches front and center for hiring managers to view.

This means that including the right hard skills is crucial to getting your resume viewed at all. For example, if a job description asks for a professional with data analysis, it’s likely an important ATS keyword. Listing “data analysis” in your skills section improves the odds of an ATS choosing your resume.

For more tips on building an ATS resume, read our guide on the subject.

They show proficiency without taking up space

Providing your top hard skills helps you address important proficiencies without taking up excess space. You can’t fit all your abilities in your work experience section, especially if you have a long work history.

For example, you might already have four achievements under a work experience entry and you don’t have space to add your experience with varied software development methodologies. Instead, you opt to add “Agile, Scrum, and Waterfall methodologies” to your skills section.

Expert tip:

Other great hard skills to put on resumes include the “preferred skills” in a job description. If a job ad says WordPress skills are nice-to-have, putting them in your skills section is a quick and easy way to show employers you have them even if you don’t have powerful work achievements that showcase them.

Top hard skills: What employers are looking for

Hard skills differ immensely between roles and industries, but there is still a collection of technical skills that are in high demand in the current era. 

Here are some of the top hard skills resumes need to stand out:

  • Customer relationship management software skills
  • Hard communication skills, such as content writing and editing
  • Data analysis
  • Cloud computing
  • Project management software proficiency
  • Search engine marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Graphic design
  • Programming languages, such as Python, JavaScript, Go, and Kotlin
  • Google Analytics
  • Database management
  • Data visualization
  • A/B testing
  • Google Workspace and/or Microsoft 365
“Recruiters need to know you have the right hard skills and listing them on your resume is your best bet.”

Choosing the right hard skills to put on resumes

How do professionals choose which hard skills to put on resumes?  You have a wealth of skills you excel at, but listing them all would be impossible – and irrelevant to some job descriptions.

To help you decide what to include, let’s take a look at the most common hard skills for popular job positions:

RoleCommon hard skills
ManagersProject management, Delegation, Negotiation, Planning
DesignersSketching and communicating ideas, Color theory, User interface (UI), Photoshop
Sales professionalsNegotiation, CRM software, Product knowledge, Prospecting, Closing skills
ProgrammersProgramming languages, Data structures and Algorithms, Testing and debugging, Database management
Medical professionalsReading medical charts, Data entry, Monitoring vital signs, Bookkeeping

However, not all roles are the same. It’s important to thoroughly scour the job description of the role you’re applying for to ensure you include the right skills.

Interested in more hard skills examples? Check out our resume examples for realistic samples of role-specific resumes, including engineers, nurses, and data analysts.

How to effectively showcase hard skills on a resume

You know you have the right hard skills, but how do you show the employer? You need to ensure your skills section is clearly formatted and contains only your most relevant abilities.

We suggest creating a master list of all your hard skills and soft skills, then choosing the most applicable ones when applying for a job. Thoroughly read the job description to learn what the employer is looking for, then update your resume accordingly.

Another tip to ensure your hard skills are easily seen by recruiters is to list your hard and soft skills in separate sections. This best practice is best for highly technical roles, such as engineers, or any professional who has a multitude of skills to list. This is common for job seekers with little work experience or education.

Try organizing a large amount of skills by choosing a resume template with two columns. This not only showcases your hard skills, but it also saves space. Give this method a try by grabbing one of our resume templates with a side column.

Hard skills for resumes: Common mistakes

You’re almost there, but before you finish, make sure you avoid these common mistakes when listing hard skills on your resume:

Listing hard skills as soft skills or vice versaIf you aren’t sure if your skill is hard or soft, research the ability on the internet or ask a colleague
Providing irrelevant hard skillsDouble-check the job description to ensure all your hard skills are relevant and desired by the employer
Including too many skillsInclude what’s important, but don’t flood your resume with skills. Aim for 5 to 10 total skills, including soft skills
Spelling your hard skills incorrectlyProofread your resume, put it through a spell-checker, and ask a colleague to review it

Learn solutions to many more common resume mistakes in our collection of resume articles, including how to structure and format the perfect resume.

Hard Skills for Resumes: Showcase Your Top Technical Skills

Choosing the right hard skills to put on resumes is essential to land the best jobs. Employers need to know you have the right technical skills, so show them with our top tips:

  • List only relevant hard skills
  • Separate your hard skills from your soft skills for better visibility
  • List your skills in a side column to draw the hiring manager’s eye
  • Provide 10 to 15 total skills to ensure you don’t overwhelm the recruiter

Hard skills are crucial to every job seeker, so it’s important to maintain a mindset of continuous learning. Commit to improving your hard skills through dedication, research, and new challenges, and you’ll become an even bigger asset to employers.

Ready to show off your best hard skills? Give our best practices a try today by using CVwizard’s Resume Builder to create a resume in minutes.

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