No matter where you are in life, you will still need to develop skills to succeed. There are many different types of skills. As a student, you might need to improve your time management and/or analytical skills. As a professional, you’ll need to cultivate both hard and soft skills to thrive in your job.
Within the different types of skills, there are also transferable skills, applicable skills, and knowledge-based skills. Let’s break down these different types of skills and which ones you should consider including on your professional resume.
Professional Skills: Technical Skills vs Soft Skills
When you’re making a list of skills for your resume or cover letter, you might be questioning which skills to include. It’s important to include both technical skills, tangible hard skills that are knowledge or experience-based, and soft skills, personality traits that may help you execute your job.
Technical skills run the gamut depending on the industry. Even if your job prospects don’t necessarily demand specific technical skills, it’s important to include potentially relevant technical skills on your resume.
Below are just a few examples of technical skills.
- Knowing how to drive a car
- Speaking Spanish fluently
- Understanding and being capable of writing code; understanding coding languages like Python and C++
- Sales skills with work experience to support it
- Customer service skills and experience
If your job application requires a cover letter, make sure to highlight your relevant technical skills in the experience section of your writing. Though you should list your skills on your resume, your cover letter is the opportunity to draw a direct link between your work experience and the skills you have developed.
Soft skills are character traits, usually interpersonal skills, that affect your ability to do a job well. Soft skills are often thought of as natural skills that are harder to learn or develop than technical hard skills.
That said, you can always develop and cultivate soft skills, especially through work experience. Soft skills are typically applicable across industries.
Below is a breakdown of the most common and desirable soft skills that you may be asked about during a job interview.
One of the age-old, dreaded interview questions: Can you tell me about a time when you came across an obstacle and problem-solved to solve the issue? Though you may not get this exact question, chances are that if you are doing behavioral job interviews, you will get a question about your problem-solving skills.
Why are potential employers asking about problem-solving? They want to make sure you are a creative and versatile thinker who can overcome obstacles. Nearly every job is going to present you with possible issues that you will need to find ways around.
Professionals with strong problem-solving skills are able to navigate conflict and obstacles more easily and efficiently. Problem-solving involves analysis, troubleshooting, patience, observation, negotiation, and decision making.
Communication is key in your personal life as well as your professional life. Usually, employers are looking for workers with strong verbal and written communication skills. If your prospective job requires significant interaction with others, whether they be colleagues or external figures like customers, communication is extremely important.
Some factors that define strong communication skills include clarity, strong listening skills, empathy, non-verbal communication, and the ability to give and receive constructive feedback.
Teamwork and Autonomy
These two skills often go hand-in-hand. Many job descriptions include these seemingly opposing soft skills in the same line. Employers want their employees to work well on teams but typically, they also want them to be capable of working independently.
This is because, in most modern American workplaces, employees are expected to do both. This is why most behavioral interviews will include questions that ask you about your ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
Teamwork requires strong communication skills. In order to work well on a team, you have to be able to communicate your expectations and capacity clearly and accurately with the rest of your team. It’s also important to understand your own strengths and weaknesses and to know when to lead and when to step back and follow.
Someone with strong teamwork skills will know when to take charge and when to follow someone else’s lead. Typically, you will want to highlight your strengths and support those of others.
Being capable of working relatively autonomously is also very important. Supervisors and management teams may want to oversee your work, but they typically are not going to want to hold your hand through all of your tasks and goals. Being able to work autonomously means that you can manage your own workload.
Skills for Your Resume
Ever wonder which specific skills to put on your resume? Highlight the most relevant skills to the profession or the job description of the job you are applying to. Though other skills like positive personality traits might be relevant, the most relevant skills that you should highlight are the required skills for the job in question. Your skill section should highlight the skill set that matches specific jobs, usually both technical skills and soft skills.
Applicable skills are essentially soft skills since soft skills and character traits are inherent skills you can apply to nearly every industry. That said, some technical skills might be considered applicable skills if they are learned or knowledge-based skills from one job that might be applicable to a different job.
For example, public speaking skills that you developed from a job in public relations might be applicable to a job in marketing or sales. It all depends on how you pitch your skills to market yourself and tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for.