What Are Technical Skills?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 August 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Hiring managers and recruiters usually look for candidates who can start work right away and help the company realise its goals. That involves looking for people with relevant technical skills to complete the job. In this article, we discuss what a technical skill is, discover the different types of technical skills and explain how to acquire or improve them.

What are technical skills?

Technical skills are common in the fields of engineering, information technology (IT), maths, finance and mechanics. They are usually required to operate software, tools, machinery and coding. Also, they usually require extensive training to master.

Technical skills vary widely depending on the industry and job type. If want you want to become a computer programmer, for instance, you have to be proficient in coding. If you plan to work as a customer service representative, you need to be knowledgeable in telephone systems and customer management applications.

Why are technical skills important?

If you are looking for a new job, having technical skills will make you a much more versatile employee. It may also give you an advantage over other candidates and could help you get a better salary offer. If you are already employed, having a technical skill may increase your chances of getting promoted.

What technical skills are employers looking for?

When employers post jobs, they often list the required, preferred and desired technical skills.

  • Required technical skills: These are the skills that you must have (mandatory) to be considered for the position you're applying for. Without these skills, you are not expected to apply, or else your application will be rejected immediately. For instance, if you are applying to be a writer, you may be required to have basic writing skills.

  • Preferred skills: These skills include the knowledge and ability that would be favourable for you during the application process. If you possess the preferred skills in addition to the required skills, you will be given more advantage than other candidates who only possess the basic required skills. If you have the preferred skills, you're more likely to get hired because the company would have to spend less on their training.

  • Desired technical skills: These skills are not mandatory, but they can make your resume look attractive to many potential employers because these skills are beneficial in achieving the company targets and goals. If you have the desired skills, the employer may consider you for further consideration not only to the position that you have currently applied for but also to many other jobs in the future that require the same qualifications and skills.

Examples of technical skills

Technical skills are found in a wide range of industries but the most common ones include:

Programming

Programming skills are not only applicable to developers or software engineers. Other tech professionals, such as project managers or customer service teams, need to have a basic understanding of programming to coordinate projects or support customers. Some of the programming languages that are in high demand include:

  • Python

  • PHP

  • Peri

  • JavaScript

  • Java

  • C#

  • C++

Marketing

Marketing teams develop email marketing strategies, conduct Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and perform other activities to grow customer base and increase sales. Some of the skills needed in this job include:

  • Layout and design

  • Video content

  • Mobile advertising

  • Social media

  • Creative thinking

  • Communication

Project management

Project management skills are those skills that are essential to successfully plan, manage and implement projects. These skills include a combination of soft and hard skills to analyse project performance, lead project teams, manage resources, monitor progress, and report results. These skills are essential for project managers to successfully plan, manage and implement large corporate projects within prescribed budgets and timelines.

Some of the project management skills that you can highlight on your resume include:

  • Cost control

  • Active listening

  • Time management

  • Adaptability

  • Empathy

  • Software proficiency

  • Data analysis

  • Problem-solving

Big data analysis

Big data analysis is very important in many industries, as it can provide companies with vital information that they can use to expand their market or determine their competitive advantage. Assessing large data sets can help determine the correlations and evaluate the return on investment (RO). Performing big data analysis accurately can thus result in more efficient marketing and sales operations and greater operational efficiency. It can also help you identify more revenue-generating opportunities.

Information security

In today's digital world, data security is one of the main concerns of many companies. Data breaches can have a very serious effect on a business, from damaging the reputation of the company to losing customers. For this reason, the demand for technical security specialists is increasing.

Security management is a technical skill in which specialists develop the knowledge to determine issues in systems, identify any vulnerabilities and customise practices to improve the way in which information is managed. Developing this kind of technical skill and highlighting it on your resume can add value to your application, especially if you want to work in data management or IT.

Technical writing

Technical writing is a type of writing that requires you to simplify complex ideas and make them easier for all audiences to understand. Some of the documents technical writers may focus on include instructional materials and user manuals. It is a clear and efficient way of explaining something and how it works. Being able to communicate complex things in a way that is easy to understand can give you an advantage in the workplace.

Technical support

Technical support skills are technical skills necessary to maintain computer systems, make sure that they run smoothly and resolve problems as they arise. These skills are also essential when you're installing and configuring new hardware, undertaking regular updates and helping other employees reset passwords, set up accounts and other system-related questions. They may also be required when restocking equipment and maintaining records of software licenses.

Industry-specific skills

Here are some examples of industry-specific technical skills you may find on job descriptions:

  • Finance and accounting: Bookkeeping software

  • Shipping and transportation: Logistics Management applications

  • Healthcare: Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software

  • Design and photography: Adobe software

  • Engineering and architecture: Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software

How to improve your technical skills

Here are the steps you can take to improve or acquire new technical skills:

  1. Attend technical seminars, workshops or classes. There are many training workshops, se minars and sessions that provide instruction about a specific product or technology. Here, you will learn from an experienced instructor.

  2. Subscribe to technical magazines or websites. There are a lot of technical magazines, websites and blogs you can subscribe to. They offer an affordable way of keeping yourself updated with the latest technology trends and developments. They can help to improve your technical skills, knowledge regarding complex software applications.

  3. Watch online tutorials and read technical books. Bookstores usually have a section for programming languages, software, hardware and other technical topics. Buy technical books or visit a local library. You may also search online for free video tutorials and handbooks or manuals.

  4. Learn multiple software applications. If you are knowledgeable about the existing applications, it will be easier for you to learn new ones in the future. Eventually, it will become very easy to determine the 'typical' features of a standard software application and the technicalities of different applications.

  5. Volunteer on technical projects. Look for opportunities in your area to volunteer on technical projects. As a volunteer, you can meet with clients, participate in monthly or weekly meetings and become a valued member of the project.

Ways to include technical skills on your resume

Skills that are most relevant to your desired position have to be placed in front and centre where they can be quickly scanned. Highlighting your technical skills expertly can increase your chances of getting hired for your target job.

Here are a few tips for showcasing your key technical skills on your resume:

  • Include a technical skills section. If they are heavily emphasised in the job posting, then place your Technical Skills section at the top of your resume, just above your professional experience, and below your introduction. You can organise them as bullet lists to make them more scannable. If you have a wide range of technical skills, set the bullets as categories—then, list the details.

  • Prove your technical skills in your work experience section. Aside from creating a scannable Technical Skills section at the top of your resume, prove your skills through your work experience. Demonstrate how you used your technical skills to help your current or previous employer.

  • Use a strong resume introduction. You can include a summary of qualifications to highlight your relevant technical skills. If you have several years of experience in various fields, you may include a short, bulleted list to organise the different technical skills you acquired along the way. You may also write a short paragraph to describe what you can offer the company, or you might choose to precede your summary with a brief introduction followed by a bulleted list of your unique technical skills.

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