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Regardless of your profession or career title, every working person needs business skills that can help them perform and advance in their careers. These skills also help to impress hiring managers and set you apart from the crowd of applicants.
It can be difficult, however, to know which skills you should focus on.
In this article, we will run through the top ten skills every professional benefits from including on their resume. We’ll also help you figure out how to find and list these skills.
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Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
You may have heard the terms hard skills and soft skills and wonder about what the difference is between these two terms. The main difference lies in the level of “objectivity” in how these skills can be measured.
Hard skills are skills and talents that can be “proven” with some sort of criteria and often require special training or experience to obtain. Examples of some hard skills might be coding proficiency, foreign language competency, or experience working with specific technologies, tools, or machinery.
Hard skills are often most prominently featured on resumes as they may seem more impressive right off the bat. Because they are skills you can essentially prove, often within the time it takes to complete an interview, they are heavily marketable.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are skills that require a bit more nuanced in their understanding. Skills of this nature are usually subjective and sometimes more related to someone’s overall work character rather than a specific piece of knowledge. Soft skills include things like problem-solving, flexibility, and communication.
These skills may be trickier to quickly impress with, but they are invaluable in the long term. Employers look for someone with the perfect combination of hard and soft skills to get the job done.
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Top 10 Professional Skills to List on Your Resume
Effective Communication. You have likely heard the importance of this skill stressed time and time again in your professional (and even academic) life, and for a good reason. Communication is a broad and all-encompassing skill, without which you would not be able to carry out the basic functions of most jobs.
Effective communication takes the form of spoken, written, and even nonverbal speech with coworkers, clients, and others, all of which can be mastered within a workplace setting. This may include the more specific skills of, for instance, public speaking or email correspondence.
Leadership. This is another often-celebrated skill with an innumerable amount of workplace applications. Leadership isn’t just for bosses and higher-ups, but for anyone working with a team towards a common goal. Leadership skills are important for motivating those around you and help get the job done.
Leadership may show up as an assigned leadership role (e.g., manager) or organically through collaboration. It can look like taking accountability, mentoring and teaching others, planning, and setting goals.
Business Management. Akin to leadership skills, with a bit more training and specificity, business management skills relate directly to the duties and responsibilities of managers. The strength of an organization’s management team can be an extremely telling factor for the strength of the overall business.
Managerial skills are often a result of learning through experience. Being able to lead team meetings effectively and productively is a crucial business management skill, as well as knowing how to ask insightful questions.
It may also include communication skills, such as knowing how to best communicate about organizational changes.
This is one of the most frequently desired skills for job applicants in 2021 because data analytics is becoming more widely used by organizations to track and optimize important business processes.
Analytical reasoning skills show up in our ability to utilize and read data sets. This might include creating testable hypotheses, making sense of data sets, and recognizing trends in data.
Interpersonal Skills. Quickly becoming one of the most sought-after soft skills in the professional world, interpersonal skills help you navigate the world of yourself and others. These skills relate to how you manage yourself, and your own emotions and behavior, and how you deal with others.
Emotional intelligence would fall under the purview of interpersonal skills, as it is a skill that helps you relate positively with others and get your meaning across in sticky situations without stepping on any landmines.
Interpersonal skills may also involve things such as time management, organizational skills, and stress management.
Teamwork. Teamwork skills go hand in hand with leadership skills, as one cannot lead effectively if they haven’t first figured out what it means to be a valuable contributing member of a team. Good teamwork involves knowing how, when, and why you are needed to accomplish a set goal.
Teamwork practice can show up in tons of different ways, and it often involves figuring out how to build and maintain professional relationships with those around you. A huge teamwork skill is conflict management and resolution, knowing how to successfully work through inevitable disagreements.
Networking. This is a special skill that impresses prospective employers and actually helps you increase the availability of career opportunities within your life. Great networking skills are all about charisma, strategic knowledge, and a willingness to put yourself out there.
People within your professional network can prove to be some of the richest sources of knowledge, inspiration, and business connections. The more quality professional connections you make, the more you are able to expand and grow professionally.
Computer or Technological Literacy. In this day and age, technological literacy is a crucial skill that can be infinitely built upon.
Let’s face it, those who are not able to confidently operate a computer and basic business software are at a severe disadvantage and usually cost companies a lot of time and money in training.
Computer literacy will look different for different career paths and levels. For some, this may look like effective use of word processing software and email management. For others, this may involve knowledge of coding languages or other advanced IT skills.
Customer Service. This may come as a surprise to some, but customer service skills are some of the most highly in-demand skills across all professions.
Almost every profession has customers, clients, or patients, and those who are able to effectively deal with these groups of people can be said to have customer service skills.
Much of what we call customer service lies in both setting the stage for successful customer interactions and communicating well with customers. Any individual who does client-facing work can be said to have some experience with customer service.
Financial Accounting. Finally, one of the most sought-after hard skills is in financial planning and record-keeping. Even if you are not in a position that typically deals with money, these skills can help you to keep a sharp, professional edge.
Financial accounting skills include knowledge of financial concepts such as profitability or technical skills like the ability to read a balance sheet. Accounting skills, within any profession, can give you the extra boost in understanding and undergoing business decisions.
How to Identify Your Most Valuable Skills
For many, it can be difficult to even figure out which skills you possess and how these might affect your chances at work. Some may also find it hard to know which skills to emphasize for the best chances. For advice in these areas, look below.
Reflect on your work life. Identifying your most valuable skills may be easier after a bit of targeted self-reflection. Ask yourself which things you most enjoy about work, what you bring to the table on a daily basis, and what you have done that has brought about genuine growth.
Talk to peers and leaders. If it is hard for you to identify your own skills, you may ask for help from those who work with you on a daily basis. Ask coworkers, bosses, professors, fellow students, and anyone else you have a working relationship with what valuable professional qualities they see in you.
Consider past achievements. If you have ever won any awards, honors, accolades, or special publications, it is very likely that you have a particular talent in that area. At the very least, you have a concrete signifier to point to if anyone asks for proof.
Look for advice from those you aspire to be like. If there are any particular career heroes or individuals you look up to, consider what kind of skills they hold and what you might have in common with them. Look to leaders within your industry.
How to List Skills on Your Resume
Tailor it to the job description. You will always want to ensure that any information included on your resume is relevant to the specific job posting you are applying to. Figure out which of your skills best fit the job description as well as the overall values of the company.
Decide on a consistent format. If you would like to include a separate skills section on your resume, make sure it is consistent with the other sections and the overall design of your resume.
Decide whether you would like to list the skills and let them stand alone, or give examples of your usage of these skills as in a functional resume format.
Include skills organically within other sections. You can also include your skillset in a sneaky way on your resume by working it into the other sections. While you will want to do this with some subtlety, you can demonstrate your skills in any section, including your bio and your work experience.
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