The relevant skills section of your resume can be a bit of a throwaway. Used effectively, however, it can make a big impact on potential employers. By choosing your skills strategically, you can position yourself as the best candidate for the job.
Eliminate Old Items
If you've been working off the same resume for years, it's time to remove old items from your relevant skills section. Start with filler items, such as "Customer service" or "Skilled communicator." These are too general — they don't help potential employers understand what you bring to the table. What's more, they've been overused to the point that they're nearly meaningless. In most cases, it's also safe to remove widely used software, such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, since most employers expect candidates to have a working knowledge of these programs.
Look to the Job Posting
The job posting is your most valuable tool in writing an effective list of relevant skills. To start, go through the posting and highlight all of the skills. Include everything from budgeting to specific software expertise. Add them to your list, putting the most important items first. For example, if a posting requires applicants to have expert-level HTML programming skills, you should list it first. This method reassures the employer that you meet all of his requirements, so you're more likely to move on to the next stage.
Consider Complementary Skills
Do you have unusual or unique skills that make you a big asset to the company? Add them to your relevant skills list. If you need ideas, look at the company's website to find out about their other departments, clients and partners. If you're applying to be the marketing director at a renewable energy company, your ability to set up solar panel systems is relevant — it can even give you an edge over candidates with marketing-only experience. Other options include skills that help you work more efficiently than other applicants. If you're a graphic designer with advanced coding skills, for example, you can communicate easily with back-end developers and save valuable time.
Speak to Pain Points
Every company has pain points. If you can find them, you can design a relevant skills section that reassures the employer. How do you find them? Start digging. Do a deep-dive for internet news stories. Ask contacts at the company for information. Look at social media and read blog posts for clues. Then, identify how your skills can solve the company's problem. If you find out that the company is having problems with interpersonal relationships, you might mention that you're trained in conflict resolution.
Your relevant skills section helps an employer understand what you bring to the table. With a little research, you can write a list of skills that leaves a lasting impression.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net