Skills to Put on Your Resume

10 Tools to Identify Skills to Put on Your Resume

If you’re going to rock the job market and get interviews, then you have to be strategic about the skills to put on your resume.

The goal is to hit the sweet spot of alignment between what you want and what employers want.

Align Your Skills with Employers’ Needs

I talked with several career coaches.

Most of them suggested starting with what you want and then matching your desires to the market. Others like to reverse engineer the process. They look at what the market wants and help their clients figure out how they match up.

The key to accelerating your job search is to make alignment a top priority. Don’t waste valuable time on an untargeted search, trying to sell skills the market doesn’t want.

How to Identify Skills to Put on Your Resume

Daily Life

Carlota Zimmerman, a New York City coach, asks her clients to walk through a day in their life and write down the skills they use. She says the results are staggering.

Major Life Decisions

Marilyn Santiesteban from Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government has people walk her through their career choices. She asks questions such as:

  • Did an early experience influence your career choice? What was it?
  • How do your values impact your career choice?
  • How did you choose your major?

Try it. Your answers to those questions and more will yield rich information about skills to put on your resume.

Big Successes

Susan Peppercorn, a Boston career coach, has her clients analyze their accomplishments.

She described a client who helped a university implement a new budgeting process. The department heads were skeptical of the new system and resisted the change. By looking at the situation, the actions her client took, and the outcome, they identified many skills. They included her client’s knowledge of budgeting and finance, her problem solving and communications skills, and her ability to persist.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Donna Schilder, a Los Angeles career coach, uses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It’s an instrument originally developed to help people understand personal preferences and use them to make good career choices. Donna says studies show we tend to be better at work that falls within our preferences.

DiSC Profile

Camille Carboneau Roberts, a federal career consultant, has her clients complete a DiSC profile. She says the results build awareness beyond skills and help her clients understand how they fit into teams.


Shahrzad Arasteh, a Baltimore career coach, uses SkillScan to help her clients identify their transferable skills.

Focus & Refine

Phyllis Mufson, a Florida coach who works with career changers, has her clients get real. She asks people to look at their skills and identify:

  • The skills they must be able to use in their jobs — their deal breakers.
  • The skills they would like to use — their negotiables.
A Final Point

It’s important to realize that most people have a third set of skills — the ones they have but don’t want to use. Don’t get caught in the trap of using skills you don’t enjoy. Your entire life can pass in this manner if you don’t develop self-awareness and direct yourself to greater satisfaction.

How to Identify the Market for Your Favorite Skills

We hear a lot about the types of skills employers want (computer skills, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, soft skills, technical skills, etc.).

However, rather than going with generalities, it’s better to identify the specific skill sets hiring managers need for the jobs you want. You’ll learn several ways to find skills to include on your resume in the following paragraphs.


Joanie Connell, founder of Flexible Work Solutions, suggests using O*NET, an amazing tool developed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

You can search for jobs you want to do by keyword and O*NET will return a summary of the tasks, tools, technology, knowledge, skills, abilities, activities, education, credentials, interests, work styles, and work values involved in the job. That’s just the summary. You can click a details tab and get even more information.

Fellow Alumni

Chaim Shapiro from Touro College suggests using LinkedIn to find alumni from your school and program to see what they’re doing.

Job Boards

Donna Schilder has her clients plug their favorite skills into job boards such as Indeed and LinkedIn to find relevant job posts and job descriptions.

LinkedIn Searches

Donna also has her clients use LinkedIn to find people who have their favorite skills. This helps her clients find possible career paths and potential employers.

Marc Miller of Career Pivot suggests you search LinkedIn for people who live in your area that have your aspirational job title, certifications, and keywords. Once you find them, you’ve also found the employers who comprise the local market for your skills.

Back to Skills to Put on Your Resume

Once you know what you want, and what employers want, you will have a list of skills to put on your resume and other keywords to weave into all the sections of your resume.

Note I said, “weave into.” Applicant tracking systems are now being trained to skip the bullet point lists of skills you see in so many resume templates. Research has shown that recruiters ignore them too. More on this here.

With the skills to put on your resume clearly identified, you’ll be ready to rock the market and get the interviews you want.

Bonus Round

If you’re just getting started with a career change or job search, check out this fabulous compendium of online resources and this discussion of communications skills.

Featured by Career Sherpa
Image Courtesy of Ben Rosset
Updated March 2019

© 2016 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 9

  1. Thanks for the amazing write-up. This is a helpful post as I have seen people putting useless things in their resumes that impose bad impact on the employers. Resumes must be short, precise and attractive lay-out matters a lot.

  2. Good Post! Every employer values communication skills that includes verbal, listening, and written. So, I think it’s important to put communication skills in your resume. You will need communication skills in order to listen effectively to your boss, co-workers or clients, communicate and facilitate discussions effectively with your team, prepare and deliver presentations, write work reports and more.

  3. Lauren,

    Agreed! I have a post on that here: 10 Better Ways to Show Your Communications Skills to Employers.


  4. Replace the MBTI and the DiSC with the Elite Performance Indicator ( and the rest is great advice! The Elite Performance Indicator was developed to measure what is unique about top performers. So it can give organizations the ability to find or develop top talent.

  5. I’m honored to be included here with such accomplished Career and Job Search Experts. This article and diagram offer great resume development tips!

    We use MBTI to help clients identify skills for their resumes, LinkedIn Profiles, answers for interview questions, along with many of the tools mentioned here.

    Also, in our Career Exploration Process, where clients are deciding which career to pursue, we use Assessments and brainstorming questions like the ones here, and distill them into Career Criteria which we put in a Career Matrix. Then we help the client use the Criteria in the Career Matrix to evaluate their possible careers.

    Clients are then able to look at all of these sources of information at once to see which Careers are a good match.

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