This Is the Most Important Section of Your Resume—and It Might Just Surprise You

Time to start changing around a few things on your resume!

ResumeNeomaster/ShutterstockIn this day and age, resume standards are changing. According to Time, you should be skipping Times New Roman and leaving out the “objective” blurb altogether. There’s one thing that has never changed though, and it’s the section that many employers view as the most important.

Most people may assume that the “experience” section of your resume is what employers are basing their final decisions on. However, for many, another section drives their interest. The “skills” section of a resume shines through with the greatest importance, according to many employers, for several reasons. Even if a candidate doesn’t have the necessary experience an employer is looking for, they may still have the necessary skills, which suggests a potential for growth. This is common to see on younger candidates’ applications, who may have all the right skills but haven’t had an opportunity to utilize them yet. According to Max Caldwell, Growth Marketing Manager at SketchDeck, “[The ‘skills’ section of a resume] can [also] say that this person is a self-directed learner and has a wide variety of interests beyond just their degree.” These mistakes on your LinkedIn profile might cause employers to skip over you altogether.

The variety of skills on a resume are also of great importance. Besides indicating that a candidate has a variety of interests, some skills may be relevant in other ways. According to Joel Keylor, co-founder and CEO of Tresle, “The ‘skills’ should not all be professional skills. I think that teamwork is so valuable and so overlooked a lot of the time. If you are a wonderful musician and play in a band, your employer should know about that. Perhaps someone else at the company is also a musician and it can add to the overall value of the team.” Be sure to include these soft skills that employers look for, too. 

Believe it or not, the placement of the “skills” section is significant, too. “A mixture of six to eight soft and job-related skills should be placed up towards the top of the resume,” says Nancy Anderson, founder of Blackbird Learning Associates, LLC and author of Job Search for Moms. “Once the hiring manager zeros in on these, you’ve sparked his or her interest. He or she will want to continue reading about the candidate and next move to the experience section.” 

Lastly, with technology ever-changing, many companies automatically filter out resumes that don’t list specific skills or keywords they’re looking for. “Having an extensive Skills section will ensure that your resume isn’t thrown out by applicant tracking systems before a hiring manager even reads it,” says Peter Yang, co-founder of ResumeGo, which offers professional CV and resume writing services. 

The worst thing to do is leave out the “skills” section altogether. According to RaShea Drake, Human Resources Specialist for Frontier Business, “If [candidates] leave [the ‘skills’ section] blank, and I’ve had many candidates leave out that section completely, I feel they either don’t have confidence in what they know, that they don’t care, or they don’t have many skills. None of those are a good sign to me.”

Now that you know about the importance of the skills section, make sure you don’t make any of these other resume mistakes that could cost you the job.

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