How to Write Your Résumé’s Skills Section (Tips & Examples)

Done right, it helps you prove your suitability for the job you’re applying for.

Reviewed by Electra Michaelidou

How to Write Your Résumé’s Skills Section

For such a small section, the résumé skills section can carry a lot of weight — making it one of the trickiest to get right.

But fret not. Whether you’re writing a résumé for the very first time or to apply for new job, this guide will walk you through the skills section step by step (including what it is, why it’s needed, where it goes and what it looks like), providing you insightful tips and examples along the way.

And, hopefully, you’ll end up with a skills section that impresses even the toughest of hiring managers.

What is a skills section?

The skills section is one of the five essential parts of a résumé (the other four being the letterhead, summary, work history and education sections).

It serves as a concise showcase of your unique skill set: the specific abilities, competencies and proficiencies that you innately possess or that you have acquired through training and experience.

Why is the skills section so important?

Including a skills section in your résumé isn’t optional. It’s compulsory.

For one, hiring managers expect to see at least a basic skills section. Omitting it makes your résumé look and feel incomplete, as you’ll be leaving out important information that employers need to make an informed hiring decision. And when they don’t have all the necessary information, they’ll likely discard your application.

The résumé skills section is intended to demonstrate that you have what it takes to succeed in the job you’re applying for, and that the specific skills you possess are a direct match to the job description’s requirements.

But it’s also so much more than a simple checklist of what you bring to the table — it’s a strategic component for catching the attention of (and getting past) those pesky little applicant tracking systems you might’ve heard about.

Where does the skills section go?

Most commonly, the skills section is placed at the end of your résumé, underneath the education section. This is so that the focus is placed squarely on your experience, which is the main thing that hiring managers will look at.

If you have limited to no work experience, though, you can move the skills section further up your résumé. This is an especially good idea if you’re a student, recent graduate or career changer, as it helps you compensate for that lack of relevant experience while still demonstrating your suitability for the job.

Meanwhile, if you’re using a two-column layout for your résumé (which we don’t recommend, as it creates all sorts of ATS compliance issues), then you can place your skills section in either column and use the other one for the “main” content: your summary, experience and education sections.

What to include in your skills section

Give priority to the following types of skills:

  • Job-specific and technical skills, such as fluency in foreign languages or proficiency in specific computer programs
  • Soft skills like time management, problem solving and interpersonal skills
  • Skills that show your thought process, such as creative thinking, inductive reasoning and critical thinking
  • Management and leadership skills, such as negotiation, decision making and delegating

What to leave out from your skills section

Whatever you do, avoid listing:

  • Skills that everyone should already have in the modern workplace, such as basic computer skills like email, MS Word and Google Docs
  • Skills that you don’t actually possess, for example: mentioning French when your fluency ends at “Je m’appelle Claude” (or, worse, “Je de coup Clow”)
  • Skills that aren’t directly relevant to the job you’re applying for
  • Obsolete skills, such as outdated software or technologies

How many skills to include

As a general rule of thumb, stick to between six and eight skills. You can, however, list as many as 15 skills, but no more than that — listing 20 or 30 skills, for example, will only dilute the overall impact of your résumé.

If you’ve got more than 15 skills that you absolutely must showcase, though, consider combining similar skills together. For example, instead of listing “Editing” and “Proofreading” individually, you could combine them into one as “Editing & Proofreading”.

What does a skills section look like?

The skills section is, in its most basic form, a simple bulleted list that looks like this:


  • Editing & Proofreading
  • Style Guides
  • Content Management Systems
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • UI/UX Design Principles
  • Basic HTML

If you have more than a handful of skills that you’d like to showcase but don’t have much space to do so, then you can spread them — evenly — across two columns, like so:



  • Curriculum Development
  • Lesson Planning
  • Classroom Management
  • Assessment & Evaluation
  • Data Analysis & Interpretation
  • Behavior Management
  • Classroom Technology Management
  • Parent–Teacher Communication


Since many applicant tracking systems can’t scan columns properly, consider using a two-column table to list your skills. That said, keep the table as simple as possible, and avoid merging cells.

Alternatively, you can group similar skills together into 3–5 categories. In this case, you should format each skill group as a bullet point, giving it a descriptive category name and limiting the bullet point’s contents to two lines. For example:


  • Visual Design: Figma, InDesign, Illustrator, Lightroom, Photoshop
  • Programming: HTML/CSS, JavaScript, TypeScript
  • Languages: English (native), Spanish (native), Japanese (business fluent)

Tips for writing your skills section

Ready to start putting your résumé skills section together? These five tips will come in handy:

1. Find the right skills

Listing skills on a résumé is one thing, but listing the right ones is quite another.

Start by making a self-assessment of your current skill set (including your hard, soft and transferable skills). Then, review the job description, make a note of the specific skills required for the position, and shortlist those you possess that match the requirements.

This will help you effectively tailor your skills section to your target job — and, consequently, demonstrate to hiring managers that you have what it takes, as well as get the green light from the ATS.

2. Include a mix of skills

It can be tempting to focus on a particular area of your skill set to show off your expertise in that one area, but doing so keeps you from presenting yourself as a qualified and well-rounded candidate.

For a more effective résumé skills section, make sure your listed skills are as varied as possible. A programmer, for example, could mention the different programming languages they’re proficient in, their knowledge of Object-Oriented Programming, and their debugging and troubleshooting skills.

3. Prioritize skills

When creating your résumé skills section, it’s a good idea to list skills in order of importance.

This means giving priority to your biggest strengths (particularly the skills listed among the requirements in the job description) over your “secondary” skills (those that support your overall candidacy). Doing this ensures that your top skills take centerstage and aren’t buried in what is potentially a sea of information.

For example, if you’re applying for a content writer position, you would list your search engine optimization expertise before, say, your graphic design skills.

4. Avoid overgeneralization

When you overgeneralize your skills, two things happen. One, hiring managers won’t pay much attention to them. And two, you risk misleading employers about your proficiency in specific areas, and this can lead to mismatched job expectations and performance issues.

Instead, try to be as specific and unique as possible. For example, rather than broadly mentioning your “Communication Skills”, you could highlight the exact areas you’re proficient in, like “Written and Verbal Communication”.

Likewise, “Business Development Manager Skills” can be broken down into “Strategic Planning”, “Sales Expertise” and “Financial Forecasting” so that hiring managers have a clearer picture of what exactly you’re capable of.

5. Consider formatting

A major, and often overlooked, aspect of crafting a skills section (and a résumé as a whole) is its formatting. The cleaner, more symmetrical and more consistent it is, the more it will stand out — for all the right reasons. Indeed, poor formatting makes your résumé difficult to read and navigate, and it can prevent you from being shortlisted for the next round.

Keep these formatting pointers in mind:

  • Separate all your skills into individual bullet points.
  • Use round or square bullet symbols (consistently throughout your résumé).
  • Keep each bullet point to a single line (unless you’re grouping skills together; in this case, two lines is the limit).
  • Prefer title case over sentence case.

Example résumé with a two-column skills section

Want to see a résumé skills section in action? Check out this résumé example:

Senior Software Engineer Resume Example

Like this template? Make it yours now (for free!) →

FAQs about skills sections

Got questions? We got answers!

Q: Should I only list skills in the skills section?

Nope! Try to incorporate both soft and hard skills throughout your résumé — not just in the dedicated skills section. For example, in your work history section, you could highlight your leadership skills by mentioning how you “oversaw a team of 15 employees”.

Q: Can I list languages in a separate section?

Yes — if you’re fluent in more than two languages. Otherwise, it’s better to keep them in your skills section instead of making your résumé any longer than it needs to be. Either way, make sure to specify your proficiency in each language.

Q: What should I call it?

This is entirely up to you, but we recommend sticking to a common name like “Skills & Expertise”, “Professional Skills”, “Relevant Skills”, “Technical Skills” or simply “Skills”.

Key takeaways

To sum up everything we learned in this article:

  • The résumé skills section is intended to concisely showcase your abilities, competencies and proficiencies, and is typically placed toward the end of your résumé.
  • It should highlight your 6–8 strongest skills, particularly those that directly match the job description’s requirements.
  • It’s commonly formatted as a simple bulleted list, but you can group similar skills together under relevant categories.
  • When listing skills on a résumé, aim to include a mixture of skills and prioritize them in order of importance.
  • Don’t just list skills in the skills section. Instead, try to naturally incorporate them elsewhere in your résumé, as well as in your cover letter and LinkedIn profile.

Got a question about the résumé skills section? Drop us a comment below!

This article is a complete update of earlier version originally published on February 12, 2018.