Key Skills Resume Section: How to Highlight Relevant Experience

by Kristi on November 25

65525813 5ab4f12340 Key Skills Resume Section: How to Highlight Relevant ExperienceAre you switching industries? Returning to work after some time away? Not sure your experience really shows off what you can offer? Do you have a generalist background with a wide variety of skill sets?

All of these situations can make it difficult to concisely describe what you can do for a potential employer. While a well-written summary statement can give a high level overview, sometimes you want to show the depth or breadth of your experience in a snapshot for a potential employer. That’s a good time to consider using a “Key Skills” section in your resume.

What is a “Key Skills” section on a resume?

The Key Skills section allows you to outline what you think are the most valuable aspects of your expertise. It’s a great tool for targeting your resume to a particular job opportunity, because you can tweak your list to reflect the specific job requirements.

If you’re looking for a role where certain keywords are going to catch a recruiter’s attention, consider how this section can work for you.

Which are my key skills?

Some common items listed in this area are areas of responsibility, like budgeting, P&L, business development, market research, strategic planning and more.

In some cases it’s also appropriate to list technologies in this area. For instance, a web developer might list PHP, ASP, Joomla, and other web technologies.

In the HR world, the list might include specific  procedures, laws and regulations, like FMLA, EEO, OSHA, workers compensation and more.

Where do my Key Skills belong on a resume?

They most often appear after a resume summary, but before work experience. Because this information appears in the top third of your first page, you’ll want to pay extra attention to how you portray your experience. Often, a recruiter or hiring manager will only thoroughly read the summary and key skills, so you’ll want to be sure to always target the particular job that you’re applying for.

cc Key Skills Resume Section: How to Highlight Relevant Experience photo credit: procsilas

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Amity November 25, 2009 at 10:00 am

I have created an innovative approach to talk about my key skills on the resume. Rather than creating an extra section for key skills, I’ve mentioned them directly inside work the experience section.I’ve created a bulleted list under each skill which talks about how I’ve demonstrated this skill in the past. Every sentence starts with an action verb & creates a vivid description of the task performed in readers mind.

Some of my key skills are -

Customer Service
System Administration
Training
Reseach
Supervisory

Kristi November 29, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Amity: Sounds like an interesting format. A creative approach can be effective as long as it’s easy for a hiring manager to understand and learn how you can add value to their organization. As always, the measure of your effectiveness is in the results. Let us know how it works for you!

Trish February 3, 2010 at 7:31 am

Key skills within work experience sections is what I do when I tie them to results.
I also summarize in a general manner at the top…in professional profile…for example: “Innate ability to take abstract concepts or complex procedures and break them down into interesting and easy to understand tasks” would be a profile statement…okay then how do I do that? …that is emphasized through bullet points in work experience. Whether this is correct or not…I don’t know but it seems to work for now….and for now brings me to the next question….In my current networking I am getting a little tired of reading all the bullets that all sound the same after awhile. I am ready to venture a little out of this format with some creative approaches…… this is okay?

Kristi February 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Trish: If it’s working, it *is* correct. If you’re getting results from your resume, you’re probably in good shape. Taking a creative approach is good, but be careful not to be creative for the sake of it. The goal here is effectiveness. Keep track of your results, and watch how certain changes affect that where possible.

Faustino Bongotan April 3, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Resume writing and job applications
I do my resume my own way and shun those invitations from resume writer professionals because they are expensive. I once challenged a professional writer to do me one and pay them later an equivalent to a month’s salary which is even a multiple of what they charged, but, this salary is coming from a company from where their resume-made/tailored had been targeted at. They didn’t!!!

While getting weary about all these applications through the internet which is giving me none at all, I understand that I have a long long way to go about my resume writing, to come up with an Effective Resume that follows all of those DO’s and DONT’s. To think that I am so new here in the U.S.(just 1 year) coming from a third world country like the Philippines which lack proficiency in English(specially spoken), who is aging at 58 and whose education maybe considered inadequate drives me to go a step lower in my aspirations for employment, like; I am a Professional Electrical Engineer in the Philippines and graduated civil engineering with continous work for 28 years as an Electrical Engineer (10 years) and Civil & Electrical works contracting (for 18 years) and am willing to go electricians job here in the U.S. like electrical maintenance job. Nothing is coming yet. How could I?

Kristi April 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Faustino: Professional resume writing may not be the solution for everyone, but it’s well worth the cost if it can lead to a better job, or being employed faster. Especially for those who don’t currently have a resume or who have a hard time writing — it costs much more if you miss valuable opportunities because you don’t have a resume that positions you appropriately.

Take advantage of any resources out there — free seminars on job search, educational opportunities, funding for training, etc. If you have a resume, get some feedback on it from someone who reviews resumes for a living — someone in HR or recruiting, or a resume writer. These are good first steps to ensuring you’re on the right track. Best of luck!

m anuradha March 14, 2011 at 1:55 am

please send a experienced resume(or) how to prepare a experienced resume in civil & electrical works -computer operater,

Kristi March 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm

M: For sample resumes, try contacting people in your network who might be willing to share or look into help provided by professional organizations, etc. There are a number of other articles on the site as well on resume writing best practices. For a start, look here: Resume Writing Tips

ashutosh kumar April 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I hv one year experience i.e., 6 month in mkt’ing & 6 months in banking, So plz u tell me wht are the appropriate Key skills i mention in my resume for new job in banking line.

Kristi April 16, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Ashutosh: The key skills are unique to you and your experience. Try brainstorming things you’ve learned and things you’re good at, then looking at job descriptions for sample roles you’re seeking to see what matches up. Here’s a list of resources to get started: How to Write a Resume

flor May 14, 2011 at 6:39 am

pls send/give us the example of key skills for those have an previous experience of supervisor in customer service,clerical works.

liza May 14, 2011 at 6:45 am

same as w ashutosh kumar,can u give us the example of key skills.i am more than 5yrs in supervisory position in customer service.

Kristi May 17, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Liza: As a customer service supervisor, key skills might include things like interviewing/hiring/development of staff, conflict resolution, operation of a particular phone or computer system that you use for customer service, communications skills, etc. The key is to look at the type of jobs you’re applying for and figure out what they’re asking for. So, if they are looking for someone with experience conducting training for new team members and you’ve done that before, you might list that in your key skills. Good luck!

Rafay Chawalwala November 24, 2011 at 6:46 am

plz tel me what sort of keyskills to write on resume for marketing of real estate company

Jo April 14, 2012 at 11:16 am

Hello Kristi,
My situation is this, I am currently working as a contracted employee and they are creating permanent positions out of these contracted positions but you have to re-apply. I am not concerned about my resume for my current position, but a management position has popped up out of this change and I would love to apply for that position as well.
It is with the banking industry, which I have limited experience with, but I have vast amounts of managerial experience. I’d like to highlight my keys skills in the management area, preferably on top of the resume, but because my managerial experience has been wide spread through out my career and job choices, and as far as formatting goes, do I bullet point my skills and then list my experience? I don’t want to make my resume long, as I know 2 pages is the max, but some of my experience comes from positions I’ve had in the past and after those jobs already taking up room on my resume….I hope this questions makes sense….

kanye west style July 12, 2014 at 6:41 pm

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