Five essential skills to put on a resume – and five others to avoid at all costs

Woman Reviewing a Resume
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There aren’t many recruitment documents that are more important than the resume – it’s the perfect way to advertise your skills and abilities to potential employers. A good CV can convince a company that you’re worth hiring, but a bad document can see you immediately discarded.

It pays to pay attention, and it’s vital to have the right information on your resume. That’s why we’ve rounded up the five skills that you need to put on your CV – alongside the five that you should avoid at all costs.

We’ve covered hard and soft skills here and explained exactly why you need to include them on your resume, or why you need to make sure that certain skills never appear on the document.

If that’s not enough help for you, we’ve got plenty more resume advice: head here for our verdict on the best resume-building tools, and click here to explore the best white-labeled job boards.

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Computer Proficiency

Technical skills are a big addition to any resume, but this area is complex and can cause issues – so you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got the right skills listed while avoiding others.

It’s always worth listing any technical skills that you have in areas that are relevant to the position in question. Check the job description to see exactly what the company needs from their new hire, and list and explain all your relevant skills clearly on your resume. It’s also worth listing other high-end and specialist technical skills that you’ve got – even if they’re not relevant immediately, they speak to your ability to learn and could be useful in the future.

On the flip side, you shouldn’t include all your technical skills on your resume. It’s always tempting to list the office apps and everyday software that you’ve mastered – and years ago it was the done thing to include all that information – but these days it’s just an assumption that most people know how to handle Word, Excel and Outlook. Leave them off your CV, because it’s just a waste of space.

Workplace Culture

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Communication Skills

These are vital for any job, so you should spend a significant chunk of your resume showing off your communication skills and ability to work in a team.

It’s crucial to convey your ideas and opinions clearly and tactfully to a wide range of people, from your boss and upper management to customers and colleagues. You’ve got to communicate well with all kinds of people, and you’ve got to show that you’re confident.

Similarly, your resume should demonstrate that you can work effectively as part of a wider team. There are few jobs where you won’t have to collaborate with others, and hiring managers will be more confident in your application if you’ve shown that you can slot into a new business. Use examples from your career to show that you can communicate effectively and work in a team.

The ability to lead

Leadership is another soft skill that you need to include on your resume, and it’s another one where you’ll have to use examples from previous positions to show that you can get the job done.

If you’re applying for a management role, then showing leadership is critical. Your resume needs to prove that you can get the best out of people and guide teams to success, and that you can motivate staff members, behave with integrity and navigate disputes – and complete projects successfully.

It’s worth including leadership skills even if you’re not applying for a management job, too. It’s important to show that you can manage people, complete work projects, and behave fairly in any job. Showing leadership can help you gain more responsibility in the future and give your resume an advantage during the application process.

Frustrated Computer User

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Dealing with problems

Work is rarely smooth, so your resume must show that you can solve problems when they do arise. Detail times you’ve done this successfully in the past so your potential new employers can be confident that you can deal with any obstacle.

Similarly, use your resume to show your adaptability. You’ll stand in good stead if you can prove that you can cope with any situation. If you can indicate that you’re creative and flexible, you’ll impress any potential employer.

Organization

At the other end of the scale, your resume also needs to show that you’re always organized in the workplace and that you have excellent time management. This will prove to your potential bosses that you can keep yourself and your colleagues on-task, which means the entire workplace will function more smoothly.

If you can use earlier examples to show that you’re organized and can manage your working hours effectively, employers will be more likely to hire you – they want people who can get the job done efficiently and who can multitask without issue.

A group of cubes all displaying social media logos

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Social Media

This is a tricky one. If you have a social media presence that’s tied to your career and you keep it professional, then it’s absolutely worth including that on your resume. And if you’re applying for jobs where social media management will play a part, then make sure that’s listed – and explain your relevant skills.

But if your social media profiles aren’t relevant to your job or industry, or if you post things that look unprofessional, then make sure they’re left off the document. While it’s true that most companies will go looking for people’s social media profiles as part of the recruitment process, you don’t need to give them a signpost to something that’s potentially unsavory.

Stretching the truth

It’s understandably tempting to exaggerate skills on your resume – plenty of people have done this and they get away with it because they learn on the job or muddle their way through.

Lots of people go beyond this by lying on these important documents, too. That might get you in the door, but it’s never a good idea: if you’re caught out then you could be dismissed or disciplined, and it’s never good to breach people’s trust and let them down. It’s the sort of behavior that could follow you around in the future, too – remember that people talk across companies and industries.

Man watching video on his laptop in office

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Fluff, jargon and mistakes

Lots of people write resumes with language that they think sounds impressive and professional, but this often gives off the wrong impression.

If you use an excess of jargon and buzzwords then it usually has the opposite effect. Many recruiters will glaze over your language, they won’t understand what you mean, and they won’t assume that you’re able to communicate effectively.

If you're not sure what to say, don’t try to pad your writing or waffle with extra words – any good recruiters will spot that from a mile away. And, finally, make sure that you don’t litter your resume with grammatical mistakes or information included in the wrong sections.

Creativity 

There aren’t many soft skills that are as valuable in the workplace as creativity. We’re not just talking about specific creative industries here either – if you can prove that you’re a creative thinker, you’re going to impress, no matter the company.

If you’ve got an experienced and capable creative mind than you’ll be able to solve problems in ways that simply don’t occur to other people. Creativity isn’t just about fixing issues, either – you’ll be able to proactively improve your job performance and help the company succeed with fresh ideas and new approaches. If you can use your creativity to challenge the status quo and develop better working methods, then you’ll help the entire business.

Creativity is crucial, and if you want to show this on your resume, you can include a mention of a problem you’ve solved or an improvement you’ve delivered through your creative thinking – and if there’s data to back up your claims, that’s even better. It’s also worth mentioning any creative hobbies on your resume, because that can provide more evidence of your creativity.

Bear in mind, though, that a brief mention of creativity on your resume can easily be bolstered during your interview. You’ll probably be asked about how you’ve solved issues or improved processes in your previous workplace, and that’s the perfect time to explain how your creative thinking saved the day.

Obsolete Technology 

The world of technology moves quickly, so don’t mention hardware or software that’s no longer relevant to your chosen industry. If you list obsolete technology on your resume, you won’t just demonstrate that you’ve not kept up with relevant trends and improvements – you’re also showing a recruiter that you probably can’t use the software and devices they deploy in the workplace.

Obsolete technology on a resume can even make it seem like you struggle to learn about modern hardware and software - another reason why a recruiter won’t consider you for employment.

No matter the industry, when you apply for a job the business in question will want someone who’s comfortable using the latest technology – and someone who’s engaged enough to know what’s fallen into obscurity. If your resume contains references to obsolete technology, you’re just showing the hiring manager that you’re not the right person for the job.

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Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.