To rock the job market and get interviews, you must be strategic about the skills you 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 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 determine how they match it.
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
1. Daily Life
Carlota Zimmerman, a coach, asks her clients to walk through a day in their lives and write down the skills they use. She says the results are staggering.
2. Major Life Decisions
Marilyn Santiesteban from Texas A&M 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?
3. Big Successes
Susan Peppercorn, a career coach, has her clients analyze their accomplishments.
She shared an example of a client who helped a university implement a new budgeting process.
They used the StAR model to analyze the project:
and identified many skills, including:
- Ability to persist
4. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Here’s an introduction:
5. LinkedIn Career Explorer
Shahrzad Arasteh, a career coach, uses SkillScan to help clients identify transferable skills. The company offers free (for the price of your email address) introductory videos here.
7. 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 for their next jobs. That process informs the skills they feature in their resumes.
How to Identify the Market for Your Favorite Skills
We hear a lot about the types of skills employers want (digital, interpersonal, leadership, hard, soft, etc.).
You can find in-demand skills with these tools:
Joanie Connell of Flexible Work Solutions suggests O*NET, a tool developed by the U.S. Department of Labor.
You can search for jobs you want by keyword, and O*NET will return a summary that includes:
- Work styles
- Work values
This shows you how to get to the skills lists that matter to you:
9. Fellow Alumni
This video gives you an excellent overview of LinkedIn’s Alumni feature:
10. Job Postings
Job postings on sites such as Indeed and LinkedIn tell you about the skills employers want. This tool will help you harvest the skills from those documents.
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 stuck using skills you don’t enjoy. Your life can pass in that manner if you aren’t careful.
Back to Skills to Put on Your Resume
Once you know what you and potential employers want, you will have a great list of keywords to weave into your resume.
Notice I said, “weave.”
Featured by Career Sherpa
Updated January 2023
© 2016 – 2023, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
Let her expertise inform your job search strategy and decision-making.
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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.
Tressie, Thank you. Donna
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.
Replace the MBTI and the DiSC with the Elite Performance Indicator (EliteIndicator.com) 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.
Thank you for the link.
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.
I appreciate your input!