Highlight Your Skill Set

by | Mar 18, 2024 | Resume Tips

Over the last several years, the “Objective Statement” has been gradually replaced by a “Summary of Skills or Qualifications” on a resume. The thought process behind this change is that recruiters and hiring managers are much more interested in a quick review of your skill set than a generic statement that loosely outlines your career goals or interests.

The focus on skills continues even further, as companies are beginning to closely examine their job descriptions and postings to emphasize skill set and deemphasize items such as education and non-required certifications. The idea is that, in this tight labor market, it is imperative to try to hire skills (and attitude) over items that may not necessarily reflect in positive performance or are even needed to do the role.

Adding even greater importance to highlighting your skills, is many recruiters (or even a company’s applicant system) take just a short eye glance at resumes to determine if there is enough there to move forward with the person. So, you need to use the key words being looked for and make it as easy as possible for these skill terms to be identified.

Below, we have some tips that should make it easier for you to highlight your skills in order to be easily noticed. The good news is that none of these suggestions are particularly difficult or time-consuming to do. Let’s now take a look at some of the items you should consider.

• Cover Letter: In my eyes, this is still a critical aspect of your resume submission. I have been happy to see that the trend is coming back, making the cover letter a critical part of your expression of interest. Your Cover Letter should contain a short narrative summary outlining your skill set. This works perhaps best in your 2nd paragraph, with the 1st one being an introduction, and the 3rd being your interest statement and position fit closure. This should be aligned with what the reader will see in the “Summary of Skills” section of your resume. Remember that reinforcement will lead to the item being remembered.

• Summary of Skills: As I noted above, this section at the top of your resume (under your contact information) has over the past ten years replaced the “Objective Statement”. This short list (ten or fewer items) should concisely outline your skill set. Consider a combination of your hard or job skills that are specific to the position and soft and/or leadership skills (ex. communication, managing, and problem solving).

• Use Examples: Statements are always more powerful when examples are given that will support and reinforce the validity of what has been written or said. So, while in your “Summary of Skills”, you may list that you are fiscally responsible. Then, under one of your specific jobs, you should give an example, such as how you instituted a savings initiative that brought “x” dollars to your bottom line. Another example is if you list, as one of your skills, your ability to operate “y” piece of equipment. Then, after stating the company where you used this machine, you can note that you operated at 130% (or whatever the number is) productivity.

• Align It To The Posting: A key is that whatever skills information you write, it should be aligned either directly or is easily transferable to the actual job position. You don’t want to waste space writing skills that are not needed to be successful in the role. So, carefully read through the job posting, pulling out the items that are being emphasized. The skills that you actually have that align with what is being outlined in the posting, is what you should be focusing on. Remember that this is an exercise where you must place yourself in the eyes of the Hiring Manager and what they are specifically looking for in the role. It is NOT what skills you have that you believe they should value. Making this error will either leave the hiring manager feeling that you do not have the right skills, or (perhaps worse) appear “overqualified” because you have a bunch of skills that are not needed.

The greater emphasis on actual skills should be warmly welcomed by most job seekers. This approach places the focus squarely on what you specifically know and what you can do, rather than what you have learned that you cannot apply or is even irrelevant to the position. The key for you, as the job seeker, is to make sure you clearly highlight the skills that you possess and will differentiate you from your competition.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein

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