Most Important Technical Skills (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Sep. 25, 2020
Skills Based Articles

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The first thing you’re going to realize, if you’re looking for a job, is that the 2020 job market is nothing like it used to be.

Suddenly, the world is telecommuting and conducting business virtually and Zoom has become a household world. Companies are scaling down, cutting back, and changing the way they do business.

Today’s job market is highly competitive and suddenly there are a lot of graduates out there and seasoned veterans looking for a job. Probably looking for the same job.

So how do you become the stand-out candidate for a job? Better yet — how do you land a job in 2020?

Having the right skills is probably the best thing you can do but knowing what those skills are can be a little confusing.

What are Technical Skills?

Technical skills are the abilities or the knowledge you need to perform a specific task. They are often considered a hard skill, or a skill you learned through education or training. The interesting thing about the modern job market is that almost everyone needs some technical skills to do their jobs.

The first thing most people think of are tech jobs, a computer programmer needs to know how to code and program to be successful, those are a couple of the technical skills they need for their occupation. A statistician might need to know big data analysis and database management to do their job correctly. But those career paths are inherently very technical, what about other professions.

Because we rely so much on technology, it has spread into almost every job. A server at a restaurant might need to know point-of-sale software, having that knowledge might get them the job. Today’s trash collectors work in a high-tech portable office. That’s right, their trucks are decked out with all types of technology that they need to know how to operate.

These examples illustrate the wide variety of jobs that require technical skills and the even broader scope of technical skills there are.

Technical Skills Employers Value

When you’re looking to nail a job, you stand a better chance of impressing your future employers if you have technical skills in a few key areas. Obviously, if your job requires some specific skills, you’re going to need those, but you might also find that these can help your chances of getting hired.

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  1. Data Analysis. We are a world that’s fueled by data. It’s so prevalent in business that just about anyone can benefit from having some sort of data management or analysis background. Big data is a newer field and it deals with incredibly enormous amounts of data. The ability to sort through that data and narrow it down into data sets that can be used is very desirable. This skill crosses fields and is used in science, business, marketing, medicine, advertising, government, urban development, and more.

    Examples of data analysis technical skills:

    • Big data analysis

    • Data analytics

    • Data mining

    • Database management

    • Database design

    • Documentation

    • Calculating and statistical analysis

    • Modeling

    • Research and reporting

    • Database software certifications

    • Information management

    • Numeracy

  2. Coding and Programming. Coding and programming often go hand-in-hand, but they’re not the same thing. Coding is basically taking regular language and translating it into something the computer understands. Many people have a remedial understanding of a little coding, like using HTML to create page breaks or underlining. Programming is more involved as it’s part of software development and includes planning, design, testing, and deployment. Not every profession needs coders and programmers but those computer jobs sure do.

    Examples of coding and programming technical skills:

    • HTML, Python, JavaScript, C++, SQL, etc

    • Query Software

    • Data structures and algorithms

    • Source control

    • Text editors

    • Integrated development environment

    • Database management and creation

    • Testing basics

    • Software release

    • Information security

    • Cloud/SaaS services

    • Hardware Description Language (HDL)

    • Hardware Verification Tools and Techniques

    • Artificial Intelligence

  3. Social Media Experience. Once upon a time, just having a Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram account of your own was enough to qualify you to say you have social media experience. Not so today. Everybody has some accounts and there are a ton of different social media platforms these days. Now, to claim you have social media skills you’re going to need to talk about analytics, management tools for accounts, any paid advertising you’ve done, campaigns you’ve headed — if you know what all of this is, then you’re on the right path.

    Examples of social media technical skills:

    • Content management systems (CMS)

    • Video Creation

    • Photography

    • Digital media

    • Blogging and blogging platforms

    • Search engine optimization (SEO)

    • Analytics

    • Social media management systems

    • PPC and paid advertising

    • Social media platforms

  4. Project Management. Being incredibly organized used to be the hallmark of a project manager, now the technical knowledge behind this job includes knowing how to use scheduling software, performance tracking programs, financial modeling or accounting programs, project lifestyle management, and of course you’ll need to know a bit about the industry. In addition, some companies like it if you’re trained in Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Lean Thinking, or another popular approach to managing teams and customers.

    Examples of project management technical skills:

    • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software

    • Microsoft Office Certifications

    • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

    • Productivity Software

    • Telecommunications

    • Human Resources Software

    • Accounting Software

    • Team management software

    • Benchmarking

    • Scheduling software

    • Task delegation and management

    • Quality control

  5. Technical Writing. Technical writing is not easy. It requires an ability to dive deeply into a topic, understand high-level data, and then translate that data into something that the average person, or someone with a moderate level of knowledge, can understand. The thing about technical writing is, if you can do that with a degree of success, then you can write just about any business material and be good at it. Writing is a crucial part of the business world because communication is so important. Employers want to hire people who are good writers and who know how to get data out there without confusing or frustrating the readers.

    Examples of technical skills for technical writers:

    • Source documentation

    • Solid grammar skills

    • Microsoft word and office

    • Research

    • Subject matter experience

    • Data gathering

    • Content management systems

Types of Technical Skills

The above skills are fairly general skills that can help your resume stand out. If you have a little bit of a work history in each of these fields, it’s going to look good. Having mastered some of these skills is even better. But this is by no means the only technical skills there are. There are career specific skills and credentials necessary for many jobs and some that can also play across different professions. Some addition types of technical skills include:

  • Blueprint Design

  • Medical Billing

  • Medical Coding

  • Electronic medical records

  • Sonography

  • Structural Analysis

  • Mechanical Maintenance

  • Manufacturing

  • Inventory Management

  • Logistics management

  • Accounting and finance

  • Sales and marketing

  • Website design

  • Graphic design

  • Point-of-sale software

How to Improve Technical Skills

Some job seekers will instantly be able to pick out a few of these technical skills that they have, they might even think of some that aren’t listed. Then there might be some people who feel like they need to boost their resume. It never hurts to brush up on your technical skills or add a few more to your resume. You can do this in a number of ways.

  1. Take some classes. It obviously depends on the skill, but there are classes being offered for just about anything. There are online classes, in-person classes, technical classes that last just a few hours and then there are degrees you can obtain after years of school. How much you want to dedicate to improving your skills is totally up to you.

  2. On-the-job training. Why not learn from an expert? You can apply for official apprentice programs or internships to gain a certification or you can go a more informal route and just spend some time shadowing an expert. For some people, this hands-on training is the best way to learn.

  3. Dive in. If you love to do and experiment, you can learn a lot by trial and error on your own. You don’t have to have a degree or a certificate to be skilled at something, just doing it over and over can be all you need to feel like a pro.

  4. Stay updated. Technical skills can evolve and change over time. Imagine if you only knew how to use the very first version of Microsoft Word, it was released in 1983 and came on a floppy disc. Today, knowing how to use that version is an utterly useless skill. That’s why staying on top of technology is so important, no matter what field you’re in.

Highlighting Your Technical Skills

When you’re applying for a job, you want to mention your technical skills, especially the ones that are required for that position. There are a few different ways to showcase your accomplishments and technical knowledge and you can use one, a combination, or all of them to create the most appealing application possible.

  1. Technical Skills in a Resume. This depends on your field and your experience. If you learned different skills in different positions, then you might want to bullet-point the skills under each job listing. If you’ve stayed in the same field, then adding a skills area to your resume, after your professional history or after your education is a good way to point out your proficiencies.

  2. Technical Skills in a Cover Letter. Your cover letter is a brief introduction to who you are and why you want to work for that particular company. It’s also a great place to list your most relevant technical skills and how they make you a good fit for the job. The thing to be careful of here is not listing obvious skills. If you are a secretary looking for a job at a drafting firm, they will expect you to know Microsoft inside and out and you don’t need to mention that. But if you’ve had some CAD training then they might find that particularly exciting.

  3. The Addendum. In some cases, a resume and cover letter simply aren’t enough. It depends on the job and the career the individual has had, but there can be certifications that come with technical skills that you’ll want to attach to your application. This not only proves you have the skills, but it reinforces your qualifications. If you’re in a field where you’re constantly learning new things and adding skills, then you might want to add an entire sheet devoted to your technical skills as an addendum to your professional resume.

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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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