We are entering 2024, and in this competitive job market, having the right career and professional skills is not enough. You need to showcase it equally well. Yet, many individuals struggle to effectively portray these skills on their resumes.
Most of us do this: Put on the heading ‘Skills’ and then write whatever we can think of, like this:
The internet has been hosting resume-building blogs, videos, and guides for more than two decades. Yet, we keep building such ‘outdated’ resumes. But not anymore, not you.
In this blog post, we’ll look into the significance of various career and professional skills, how to identify and present them accurately in your resume, and strategies to continually enhance and develop these skills for career growth.
Understanding Career and Professional Skills
Before getting into the specifics, you need to establish a clear understanding of what career and professional skills entail. These skills encompass a wide spectrum, including both hard skills and soft skills.
To understand the overall image of professional skills, you need to understand these two:
Hard skills are quantifiable and often industry-specific technical abilities acquired through education, training, or experience. These skills are essential for performing specific tasks or functions within a profession.
For instance, your resume should portray your hard skills, which are determined by the given factors:
Technical Proficiency: Mastery of programming languages such as Python, Java, or C++ can be crucial for software developers or data analysts. Proficiency in using data analysis tools like Excel or Tableau is highly sought after in various industries.
Certifications/Degrees: Not particularly a skill, but important. Recognized certifications or college degrees validate specialized knowledge and expertise in specific domains. For example – I got a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering and started my career as a software developer.
Language Proficiency: Fluency in English or any other required language not only broadens communication capabilities but also demonstrates adaptability and cultural awareness, valuable in globalized work environments.
But you probably know about these.
In fact, the majority focus on hard skills only and know how to display them in a resume (or they think so). They amass great technical skills but end up failing the interviews because they can’t communicate well.
Soft skills, on the other hand, revolve around interpersonal abilities and personal attributes that facilitate effective interaction and collaboration. These skills are often transferable across various roles and industries.
Here are some of the most popularly used soft skills in a resume. Pick a few relevant ones for yourself:
Communication: Effective communication involves not just conveying information but also active listening, clarity in expression, and adapting communication styles to diverse audiences and situations.
Leadership: Strong leadership qualities encompass guiding, motivating, and inspiring a team toward achieving common goals. Leadership involves setting an example, providing guidance, and making decisions that benefit the team.
Adaptability: Industries and workplaces keep evolving. Hence, adaptability is a crucial trait. It involves being flexible, open to change, and quickly adjusting to new environments, technologies, or procedures.
Problem-solving: Having the skill to create To-Do lists and Netflix clones is easy. They have already been built a thousand times over. But working in corporate requires you to come up with new solutions every day. Analytical thinking and problem-solving skills enable you to identify, assess, and resolve complex issues efficiently.
Teamwork: Effective collaboration with diverse individuals is essential for achieving shared objectives. Valuing others’ contributions, communicating openly, and fostering a positive team environment are key aspects of strong teamwork.
Also Read: Which career is best for me?
4 Tips to Improve Your Career and Professional Skills
Before we talk about the tips to improve your resume, I must first teach you how to improve (or get better at) your skills. Here are five practical tips to enhance your career and professional skills:
Let’s talk about hard skills first:
1. Enroll in Formal Education:
Well, this is a given. Whether it’s a degree program, a vocational course, or specialized training, formal education provides structured learning. This is what most of us do. Go to college for four years and learn in a structured manner.
But we all know that it’s not really effective. No matter how good a college you go to, it can’t teach you the practical hard skills you need. Hence, a better option:
2. Self-learning with Online Resources:
This is a game-changer. Platforms like YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Coursera, Udemy, etc., are goldmines of knowledge. You get to learn at your own pace, choosing teachers and subjects aligned with your interests and career goals.
Especially YouTube! Tech, finance, language, and design. You name it, YouTube’s got it. The best part? You can learn everything for free. Even if you decide to enroll in some course or cohort, it’ll still cost you much less than a college.
Pretty straight-forward and not boring, right? Wait.
Here are some tips for improving soft skills: This is not rocket science. You only need to communicate at all levels. Communicate with yourself, your peers, seniors, juniors, knowns, and unknowns. The rest comes automatically.
3. Talk, Listen, Communicate:
Your hard skills are worthless if you can’t communicate it to the interviewer. What is seen is sold! Hence, you need to practice speaking clearly and listening actively. You need to learn to communicate your thoughts as fluently as possible.
Engage in conversations or presentations to refine your message delivery. The trick is not just talking but ensuring your ideas are understood by everyone. Have a few friends to practice with. I used to practice communicating with my roommates in English. It was fun!
4. Feedback is Gold:
Seek feedback like your life depends on it. Try practicing soft skills with your seniors and asking for feedback. Learn to accept criticism—use it as a ladder to climb higher. Also, observe the pros in your field. Start spending time with them. Enact them in some situations (when they’re not around). You’ll learn a ton about leadership, teamwork, and how to crack problems.
Tips to Write Professional Skills in Your Resume
Now, let’s focus on how to include these skills in your resume the right way. This will sound boring, but you need to do it:
1. Tailor Skills to Job Descriptions:
First of all, analyze your experience and skills and create a resume template. It will act like your primary resume boilerplate.
Now, whenever you apply for a job, customize your resume by aligning your skills with the job description. Highlight the skills most relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Use keywords from the job posting to showcase how your skills match the employer’s requirements.
2. Utilize Action-Oriented Language:
Instead of listing skills in isolation, demonstrate them with specific examples using action verbs. For instance:
Instead of saying, “Good communication skills,” write, “Led team meetings, ensuring effective communication and collaboration, resulting in a 20% increase in project efficiency.”
Instead of simply stating “Proficient in Python,” opt for “Developed a Python-based application using X-Y-Z core functionalities”
Such quantifiable achievements substantiate your claims and instantly grab the recruiter’s attention.
3. Quantify Achievements:
Quantify your skills whenever possible. Add numbers, percentages, or metrics to illustrate the impact of your skills. For example:
Don’t just write “Marketing Strategy” in the skills section. Write a relevant work experience and write “Implemented a marketing strategy resulting in a 40% increase in sales.” Quantify!
4. Create a Dedicated Skills Section:
Include a distinct section highlighting your skills. Yeah, I know! We all do that. But there’s more:
Organize them under relevant categories such as Technical Skills, Soft Skills, or Industry Expertise. This makes it easy for recruiters to spot your key competencies.
5. Showcase Transferable Skills:
Highlight transferable skills that are relevant across various roles and industries. Skills like problem-solving, adaptability, teamwork, and leadership demonstrate versatility and suitability for different job positions.
Well, this is not something you need to change often. Just keep it in mind while creating the resume template.
6. Update Regularly:
Keep your resume updated with your latest career and professional skills and experiences. As you acquire new skills or certifications, include them into your resume to showcase your evolving expertise.
Remember: Don’t just showcase. Showcase practically!
Read this: Tips for Making a Great Resume
In summary, mastering professional skills and effectively presenting them in your resume is super simple and straightforward work. Yet, not many of us focus on that. We focus only on hard skills and end up representing them poorly. Having clearly defined hard and soft skills in your resume can significantly enhance your career prospects.
Assess your skills, align them with job descriptions, and use active language to vividly portray your accomplishments. Continuously invest in skill development, and make sure your resume reflects your evolving expertise.
I hope that you got the idea of how hard and soft skills are equally important and how to portray these skills in your resume.