Resumes & Cover Letters

How To Develop Skill Sets in 9 Steps

June 10, 2021

When applying for jobs, it's important to show employers that you have the right skills for their role. That's why it's useful to scan through a job posting to find what skills that want in a candidate. By incorporating your relevant skills in your resume, you may increase your chances of getting an interview. In this article, we explain what skill sets are, why they're important, where to include them on your resume, what different skill sets are and how to develop them.

Related: Selecting the Right Resume Skills in 5 Simple Steps

What are skill sets?

A skill set is a collection of skills and abilities. Each person has a unique skill set depending on their interests, natural abilities, personal qualities and technical skills. Skills can expand your professional competency and allow you to perform your job well. You can gain and improve skills with education and experience. The more advanced you are in performing certain skills, the more likely you are to get or progress in a job.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a Resume

Why is it important to include skill sets on a resume?

One major factor of finding employment is showing hiring managers what skills you have. Your skill sets tell them whether you are qualified for their job opening. By incorporating your skills on your resume, you can get an employer's attention, and hopefully, get an interview with their company.

Along with getting an actual person's attention, adding relevant skills to your resume may help it pass through applicant tracking systems. These are software that scans resumes for specific keywords, determining if you have the right qualifications. Hiring teams use this technology to sort through piles of resumes and narrow down the top candidates.

Where can you include skill sets in a resume?

When creating your resume, there are a few ways you can show employers you have the right skill sets for their position. Here are some places you can incorporate your skills in a resume:

  • Professional summary: This is the section at the top of your resume where you can give employers an overview of your professional experience, skills and accomplishments. Consider adding a few skills in this brief paragraph.
  • Experience section: Your work history section is another place to showcase your skills, as you can describe specific responsibilities you had. Think of how you can relate your past experiences to the job requirements of this new role.
  • Skills section: You can also have an entire section of your resume dedicated to your relevant skills. Many candidates include a short bullet list of their skills at the bottom of their resume.

Key skill sets to feature on a resume

Here are some skill sets that may enhance your resume:

Communication

Many roles require you to have strong written and verbal communication. Being able to convey your ideas and listen to others are essential parts of working in a collaborative work environment. Communication ensures everyone has a mutual understanding of their team's goals and expectations. Including this skill on your resume shows you can work well with other employees and clients.

Computer skills

When listing this skill set on your resume, be specific about what computer skills you have. For instance, if you're applying to be a receptionist or transcriptionist, include how many words you can type per minute. If you want to become a writer, you might include what word processors or content management systems you know how to use.

Foreign language

If you speak an additional language, list it on your resume. You can also indicate your level of fluency so that an employer understands how well you know another language. As the workforce continues to globalize, knowing a second or third language can make you a more marketable candidate. This way, you can communicate with foreign clients or travel abroad for business trips.

Research

Various professions require you to have strong research skills. For instance, when planning a project, you may use your research skills to learn about your client, their needs and the current market. Research skills can also help you learn more about your company's competitors. If you have the ability to find credible information to make informed conclusions, consider listing this skill on your resume.

Strategic thinking

Being a strategic thinker means you can look at a problem or situation and come up with a thoughtful solution. This skill shows that you can make effective decisions by considering all the variables of a project or task. Strategic thinkers anticipate potential barriers, finding ways to avoid or overcome them.

Teamwork

Having teamwork skills means you can effectively collaborate with others. Since many professions require you to do at least some group work, this can be an essential skill to have. When you have teamwork skills, you can get along with others and use your own strengths to benefit the team.

Technical skills

Technical skills, also known as hard skills, are the abilities you have acquired through your experience, education and training. These are specific skills that help you do certain tasks for the role you want. For example, if you want a coding job, you may list that you have a working knowledge of HTML/CSS, JavaScript and Python. Likewise, if you want to become a data specialist, you may list that you can use spreadsheets and specific data software.

Time management

When applying for a role that requires you to work on projects and meet deadlines, having time-management skills may benefit you. If you are someone who consistently gets your work done on time and can easily manage your schedule, you can include this skill on your resume. Employers may appreciate that they can trust you to deliver consistent results within their timeframe.

How to develop your skill sets

Here are several ways you can develop professional skills:

1. Set goals for yourself

Setting specific goals to improve your career helps you stay on track with your development. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable and relevant to your profession. Then, consider organising a timeline to achieve your goal by setting a beginning and end date as well as smaller goals to achieve along the way.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition, Template and Examples

2. Find a mentor

A professional mentor is typically a superior you respect and trust. Once you find your mentor, you can reach out for informal meetings, which can then naturally develop into a professional relationship. By connecting with a more experienced professional, you can get advice on how to develop some important skills for your profession.

3. Seek feedback about strengths and weaknesses

You can ask superiors, colleagues or even friends or family about your strengths and areas for improvement. It is important to seek feedback from people who can give you honest critiques rather than automatic praise. Once you identify your weaknesses, you can focus on developing those skills. Likewise, you can learn to use your strengths as leverage when applying for jobs.

Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

4. Review job descriptions for positions you want

Job descriptions can give you an idea of the transferable skills you have, along with the job-specific skills you need. Once you identify the skills you need, you can research job shadowing or education programs that can provide you with the necessary skill set to transition into that position.

5. Enroll in an online degree program

Companies often encourage employees to further their education with a degree and some offer tuition assistance or reimbursement. If you are advancing your career with a related program, such as accounting and finance, you may also find that many of your credits are transferable.

6. Take continuing education courses in career-related fields

Professionals with experience in their field often teach courses. For some professions, continuing education courses are required to stay current in the industry. Many colleges and universities offer continuing education courses in a variety of fields.

7. Take advantage of company training

Many companies use independent training departments with experts in different fields that train on specialized skill sets. Ask your manager what your company offers and which courses would be especially beneficial for your professional growth.

8. Participate in job shadowing

Job shadowing is a great way to learn more about the day-to-day responsibilities of another profession and to learn new skills. Generally, it is best to choose individuals who are experienced or perform well in their positions. Job shadowing usually involves following a professional while they perform their job duties and learning about different skills.

9. Join a professional association in your field

In a group setting, you have the opportunity to converse with colleagues about your industry and to discover skills you may want to develop. These professional associations are usually available on local, national and international levels.

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