The best résumés don’t have a ‘skills’ section

At best, the “skills” section on your resume is scannable verbiage. At worst, it’s a waste of space.

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How can communicators applying for new jobs convey their various abilities?

In writing a résumé, many people include a “skills” section. Here, they cram together “hard” skills, such as programming languages or software expertise, and “soft” skills, such as “conflict resolution” or “adaptability.”

This is a waste of space. Instead of ticking off vague notions like “Excel” or “Photoshop,” tell your audience how you used these programs. Get specific.

For example: “Created sophisticated pivot tables in Excel to track inventory in real time.” This fleshed-out bullet point clarifies that you’re not “skilled” with spreadsheets the way I’m “skilled” with cooking (reheating pizza is my specialty).

Similarly, instead of Photoshop,” try something like this: “Designed images and ads, in Photoshop, for clients’ Facebook and Twitter accounts.”

When I teach résumé writing, my aversion to a “skills” section is the guideline that triggers the stiffest pushback. For various reasons, people cling to this utterly useless info.

Here are their five most common arguments, along with rejoinders you may not have considered:

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