Most Important Skills Employers Look For

By Chris Kolmar - Sep. 23, 2020
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There’s a lot of juggling that job candidates need to do to impress a potential employer. The application process is competitive and standing out from the crowd can be difficult, especially in the digital age. It can initially seem impossible to pack all your personality, work ethic, and background into a one-page resume.

That’s where a strong skill-set comes in. Having and outlining your key skills that hiring teams are looking for can greatly improve your chances of making your resume memorable. A memorable resume is an applicant who’s going to be called in for an interview.

Hard Skills Vs. Soft Skills

An effective resume utilizes the applicant’s relevant abilities. These traits are broken up into hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are technical, measurable expertise that is acquired through school or a professional training. These are things that will usually be specific to your field or niches within it. Particular hard skills may be a requirement for certain positions.

In-Demand Hard Skills In 2020 Include:

  • EX design

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Translation

  • JavaScript

  • QuickBooks

  • Data and Metrics Interpreting

  • Social Media Marketing

  • Troubleshooting

In contrast, soft skills and attributes are personality qualities and desirable traits that are displayed through your work habits, as opposed to being defined by a degree. These are often immeasurable, and sometimes subjective skills that can ultimately make you a much better employee. Some soft-skills may be naturally ingrained in your personality, while others take some work to perfect.

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Desirable Soft Skills In 2020 Include:

  • Interpersonal Skills

  • Critical Thinking

  • Communication

  • Adaptability

  • Creativity

  • Trainability

  • Time-Management

  • Organization

  • Optimism

  • Problem-Solving Abilities

Your resume should include a healthy balance of hard skills and soft skills. A candidate without any hard skills comes off as inexperienced. A resume that neglects to list any soft skills feels incomplete. Do some introspection and decide which qualities in both categories most accurately describe your employable skills.

Top Skills Employers Look For

The job market is constantly changing, and the skills employers need will change with it. In 2020, the most marketable skills you can include on your resume that are most likely to get your application noticed are the following.

  1. Analytical Skills . Analytical skills involve your ability to process and use information logically to secure an ideal outcome. This can be something as basic as analyzing the problem of being out of printer paper, researching where to get more, and following through with the task. While this is a very basic example, employers look for this type of critical thinking while hiring. They want to know you can use your analytical skills to handle larger, and more imperative, situations most productively. It’s difficult to find a position where analysis skills won’t come into play at some point.

    Unless you’re applying for a position as an analyst of any kind, analytical hard skills probably won’t be required. Other professional roles may request soft analytical skills and other kinds of hard skills. No matter what kind of position you’re applying for, listing relevant analytical skills will make you a more outstanding applicant and likely attract a hiring manager’s attention.

    Examples of Analytical Skills Include:

    • Critical Thinking

    • Research

    • Communication

    • Data Interpretation

    • Strategy and planning

    • Project management

    • Understanding correlations and relationships

    • Decision-making

    • Reporting

  2. Communication Skills . A workplace with strong communication skills will bemore productive .Employers know this, and that’s why they look for these skills in potential hires. Listing your abilities to effectively communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, with coworkers and supervisors will make your resume more competitive.

    Strong communication is a collection of many good habits that make for more effective professional interactions. Highlighting the specific skills that make you an effective communicator will give a potential job better insight into what they should expect from you.

    Examples of Communication Skills Include:

    • Active Listening

    • Strong Eye Contact

    • Being Aware of Body Language

    • Clarity

    • Considering Tone via Email

    • Self Confidence

    • Solid rapport

    • Empathy

    • Compromise and coordination

    • Follow-up

  3. Interpersonal Skills . Interpersonal skills describe how well you interact with the people around you. This particular skill set is crucial to landing your next job. People don’t want to work with someone that they don’t like. If a hiring manager can’t get to know your sociable side, they’ll often pass on you for the next candidate. Many soft skills you’ll use in the workplace rely on strong interpersonal skills.

    A large reason for the interview process is to assess a candidate’s people skills in real-time. Many applicants get a job over other applicants because of how well they display these skills in an interview. When considering how often most positions require interaction with others, it’s clear to see why it’s such a vital quality to employers.

    Examples of Interpersonal Skills Include:

    • Effective communication

    • Conflict management

    • Compassion

    • Team-building

    • Sensitivity

    • Cooperation

    • Networking abilities

    • Encouragement

    • Being able to give and receive constructive feedback

    • Positivity

    • Listening

  4. Leadership Skills. Even if you’re not applying for a supervisor role right now, employers seekapplicants with leadership skillsand potential for growth at any level. A lot of the soft skills associated with being a successful leader can be seen while an associate is still working their way up the ladder. This is why companies will more often than not promote an already established employee into leadership roles. Be ahead of the curve and make note of your leadership abilities or potential early on.

    Leadership Abilities Include:

    • Clear and respectful communication

    • Active listening

    • Openness to feedback

    • Innovation

    • Persuasiveness

    • Providing resources

    • Setting Expectations

    • Conflict resolution

    • Helpfulness

    • Accountability

    • Reliability

  5. Positive Attitude. You can be a good employee without a positive attitude, but you’ll never be the one people enjoy working with. Work can be stressful for everyone, but having a team full of complaints and negativity only makes the day much longer.

    Optimism is useful in the workplace for more than just creating a more enjoyable environment. Being the type of person who gets the work done, despite any challenges, with a smile on their face improves productivity. Positivity allows you to adapt in the face of change without losing your cool and can even motivate others to do the same.

    Examples of a Positive Attitude in the Workplace Include:

    • Utilizing constructive criticism instead of complaints

    • Motivation

    • Making the most of resources

    • Persistence

    • Prioritization

    • Overcoming issues with critical thinking

    • Stress management

  6. Teamwork Skills. When you’re applying for a new job, you’re asking to become a part of their team. Adding to an existing team comes with the difficulty of choosing an applicant who will contribute effectively without disrupting the established organization. A team that doesn’t work well together won’t produce good work.

    That’s why companies need to hire people who already have teamwork skills. Listing specific examples of times you displayed strong teamwork skills can make your resume even more compelling. It shows that you can be a reliable member of their work team, and you have examples to back it up.

    Examples of Teamwork Skills Include:

    • Collaboration

    • Setting and reaching established goals

    • Cooperation

    • Organization

    • Conflict resolution

    • Managing tasks

    • Flexibility

    • Emotional intelligence

    • Negotiating

    • Asking questions

    • Receiving feedback constructively

    • Commitment to the project

    • Trust

  7. Technical Skills. Technical skills are the parts of your job that require knowledge to perform specific tasks correctly. These are hard skills because they require some type of training or degree. Technical skills require a level of expertise in your field. This is major to employers because they need to hire people who have background knowledge in industry-specific systems and don’t require training in these areas.

    Examples of Technical Skills Include:

    • Programming languages (Java, Python, Etc.)

    • Point of Sale (POS) software

    • Adobe Photoshop

    • Blockchain

    • Data mining

    • HTML

    • Microsoft Excel, Office, and Powerpoint

    • Content Management Systems (CMS)

    • Web Analytics

    The good thing about technical, hard skills is that by definition, they’re learnable. Even if it may seem like an enormous feat to learn something like a programming language or software, it’s an attainable skill with given effort and there are many internet resources to get started. Gaining expertise in a relevant technical skill can be well worth the energy.

  8. Transferable Skills. At some point in your career, you may feel stagnant in your job and need a change. Shifting from one field to another in your life is common and can be a very successful endeavor. However, applying for positions in a new field can be intimidating. Your resume could feel like it’s missing something without having as much experience. That’s why transferable skills can be very helpful during acareer change.

    Transferable skills are usually soft-skills that can be effective across different work environments and industries. You’ve probably learned lots of valuable, transferable skills in your years of work that can help you get your foot in the door of a new job.

    Examples of Transferable Skills Include:

    • Dependability

    • Leadership Responsibilities

    • Computer Experience

    • Problem-Solving

    • Organization

    • Punctuality

    • Confidence

    • Research Background

    • Strong Communication

    • Creativity

More Important Skills

There are many unique skills you can add to your resume to increase your chances of being hired. In addition to the skills listed above, consider including some of the following if it’s reflective of your work style or abilities.

  • Public Speaking

  • Decision-making

  • Self-Awareness

  • Patience

  • Product Knowledge

  • Data Entry

  • Sales Experience

  • Video Production Skills

  • Editing

  • Information Security

  • Branding

  • Lead Generation

Showcase Your Skills

Once you’ve done enough research to know where your strengths are, add relevant skills to your resume as soon as possible. Skills should be written in list format on your resume. Your skills should be listed clearly and concisely. It’s always good to give little details when applicable. There’s no need to explain the specifics of your former job in this section. That information will be available later in your resume, and you can go into more detail during an interview. Try to incorporate about six solid abilities in total, with an even mix of hard and soft skills.

Example Skills List In Resume:

Key Skills

  • SEO Experience

  • Editing

  • Proofreading

  • Team Management – Supervised a team of six writers for an online magazine

  • Flexibility

  • Organization

Take the hassle out of your job search & get an offer faster
Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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