Personal Skills and Professional Skills You Should Have on Your Resume
Updated October 3, 2023
Employers pay attention to personal and professional skills when choosing candidates they believe can perform well. This is why your resume must showcase these skills during the job-seeking process. In this article, we discuss the difference between professional and personal skills, why they're important, and discuss some of the best ones to include on your resume.
Professional skills vs personal skills
Professional skills, also called hard skills, involve technical knowledge gained through education and career experience. These skills are usually specific to an industry. For instance, if you choose a career in web development, you need coding as a professional skill.
Personal skills, also called people skills or soft skills, involve how people express themselves. These skills evade precise definition, and people display them in their daily interactions with people in their workplace and general life. They are individual habits, and you need considerable attention and effort to develop them.
An illustration shows a woman standing between two columns of words. The first column is labeled "Personal Skills" and includes the words critical-thinking, problem-solving, oral and written communication, leadership and time management. The second column is labeled "Professional Skills" and includes the words marketing, presentation competency, computer literate, other languages and research expertise. There's a desk behind the woman with a phone, laptop and clock, all against a purple background.
Importance of professional and personal skills
Employers look for candidates with the right technical capabilities, as this is vital to candidates delivering on the job. This is why you must showcase your professional skills on your resume. It allows you to stand out from other candidates and receive an invitation to interview.
Personal skills are also important because they are core to creating a functional and positive work environment. For instance, excellent communication skills ensure you can work effectively in a team, which increases productivity and helps the business achieve its goals. Some employers prefer candidates with better soft skills rather than hard skills. So, be sure to identify your best soft skills and highlight those during your job search.
Tips on how to include your professional and personal skills on your resume
When creating or updating your resume, create a dedicated section for your skills. However, you need to consider some things, such as the organization's requirements, to ensure you focus on the most relevant skills for the role. Follow these tips when demonstrating your professional and personal skills:
1. Understand the job description
The job description tells you what the company needs from you. You can then tailor your "Skills" section to display your hiring manager's needs for the job. For instance, if you're applying for a programmer role, you need to state you have programming and analytical skills.
Companies need you to fit into the environment and role, so you must provide only the most relevant skills when highlighting your abilities. Only include skills that you truly possess, as you want to set your employer's expectations in terms of what you can deliver and bring to the team. Use unique skills that help you stand out.
2. Research the organization
Every organization has its values and work culture. Research each company you apply for so you can tailor which skills they're looking for and include them on your resume. This is extremely important to ensure your personal skills fit into the organization's needs. For instance, for a company that identifies teamwork as part of its values, you need to showcase communication and open-mindedness as part of your skills.
3. Incorporate your skills into your work experience section
You need to show your hiring manager how you have demonstrated those skills, and the best way to do this is through your work experience. Provide specific context and examples for your skills. For instance, to demonstrate time management, you can talk about how you finished a task before the deadline to give room for a comprehensive review.
Examples of personal skills to include on your resume
Here are several examples of soft skills you should show on your resume:
1. Critical-thinking skills
Critical-thinking skills involve the ability to evaluate and analyze a situation objectively to improve a situation. Employers value having critical thinkers as they ensure better decision-making, which increases the likelihood of success and progress. Developing your critical- thinking skills ensures you contribute to decision-making and steer the team in the right direction.
Related critical thinking skills include:
Desire to learn
Willingness to trial
2. Problem-solving skills
Problem-solving skills involve identifying a problem, analyzing its course, and proffering a solution. Companies consider problem-solvers as valuable assets to their organization. You often need to incorporate industry-specific skills as a problem solver, so identify these relevant skills.
Relevant problem-solving skills include:
Attention to detail
3. Communication skills
Communication skills allow you to provide and receive information effectively. Communication is at the core of every team, which is why businesses prioritize communication skills. Regardless of your industry, you need to demonstrate communication skills in the following areas:
Writing: You need to communicate through writing in every company. You must be able to draft proposals, document reports, and request clarification in writing.
Reading: Usually, other members of the organization will communicate with you in writing. Therefore, you must be able to make sense of whatever they put in writing through reading.
Speaking: You must be able to communicate verbally within a group. This skill is valuable for group meetings, public speaking, and team collaboration.
Listening: Communication is a two-way relationship, especially when speaking is involved. Therefore, you must be able to listen attentively to a speaker and comprehend their information.
4. Leadership skills
Leadership skills entail the ability to organize people to achieve a set goal. Demonstrating that you are a leader, accountable and reliable gives you an extra edge when considered for employment. As a leader, you must be self-confident, charismatic, responsible, and able to motivate others, especially your colleagues.
Relevant leadership skills include:
Read more: Leadership Skills: Definition and Examples
5. Time management skills
Time management skills entail delivering on assigned tasks promptly, thereby maximizing the time left for other tasks. Therefore, employers favour candidates who exhibit this character trait, and prove they can get the job done within the specified time.
Relevant time management skills include:
6. People management
Management skills entail the ability to manage fellow humans and resources. Employers look for candidates with this skill to help guide the team toward success. Managers must possess other soft skills, such as communication and problem-solving, to be effective.
Relevant management skills include:
Read more: How to Improve Your Management Skills
7. Interpersonal skills
Interpersonal skills are a bit similar to communication skills, and involve skills you exhibit during interactions with others. They are important to create positive and friendly interactions with colleagues while promoting teamwork and collaboration.
Relevant interpersonal skills include:
Examples of professional skills to include on your resume
Here are some professional skills to include on your resume:
1. Marketing skills
Marketing skills involve the ability to promote business services or products to the public. Marketing is key to profitability, which is why companies look for candidates with marketing skills. Ensure you demonstrate your knowledge of SEO/SEM, content creation and storytelling, data visualization, and campaign management in your work experience section.
Example: "Created 35 different SEO campaigns to reach wider audience and boost sales."
2. Presentation skills
Presentation skills involve your ability to present information in an accessible format. It's an advanced form of communication skills, as it involves the use of specialized tools during communication. For example, PowerPoint slideshows and graphic designs. Businesses need confident public speakers to present presentations to clients, customers, stakeholders, and executives.
Ensure you emphasize this skill by providing a contextual experience that depicts research skills, data analysis, slideshows, visual communication, public speaking, PowerPoint, and graphics design.
Example: "Researched topics, designed and used PowerPoint to deliver elevator pitches monthly as the team leader."
3. Computer skills
Computer skills involve the capacity to use technological devices. Depending on your industry, you might need advanced computer skills; however, you need to understand the basics. Companies now rely significantly on technology, and you must be able to operate them. Remember to display an advanced understanding of computer skills where your industry requires them.
Related skills here include:
4. Other languages
Companies, especially international organizations, prioritize candidates who are multilingual as it helps them communicate with new markets. If you possess basic or advanced knowledge of other languages, include it on your resume. It also promotes cultural diversity, which is valued by hiring managers.
5. Research skills
Research involves investigation into something to derive new information. The world is constantly changing, and companies prefer candidates who can keep up with their research skills. Demonstrate that you can perform both general and specialized research to meet company needs. Showcase this using a task you performed during your prior work engagement.
Your resume should showcase both personal and professional skills during the job-seeking process. By focusing on the aforementioned skills and including them on your resume, you will demonstrate that you are a well-rounded candidate.
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