4 Tips to Help the Skills and Interests Section of Your Resume

What to do with that Skills and Interests section of your resume? Should you even have such a section on your resume?

You’ll find a Skills section in nearly every resume template out there, but you’ll also hear many so-called experts say that the Skills section is past its prime, outdated, and unnecessary. Perhaps what makes this part of the resume so difficult is not knowing what skills are going to be impressive to the hiring manager viewing your resume.

In an attempt to offer some kind of guidance on the subject, I’ve put together the following 4 tips to help you with your Skills and Interests section (should you choose to include it):

1. Make it relevant.

If you are applying for a web developer position, do NOT list your skills as a carpenter. Some jokers out there like to encourage hapless jobseekers to include non-relevant stuff in hopes of standing out from the crowd. Although that may work with the odd, open-minded, time-rich hiring manager, it is just a pointless distraction for the typical, embattled HR generalist. Most people looking at your resume don’t have time for funny; they have time to scan your resume for the right words and that’s it. The more you can meet the qualifications they’re looking for, the better your chances of showing them later what a spectacular trombone player you are.

How do you do this? Scan their job description for any mention of software or specific skills. If you’ve got any of those, for pete’s sake, include them in your Skills section. For instance, if they sell camping equipment, mention that you are an avid hiker.

2. Make it outstanding.

Sorry, but everyone knows Microsoft Word. Listing Word on your resume will never make you stand out. It’s just taking up precious space on your resume and distracting from other cool stuff. Again, consult the job description. If they are looking for someone who can speak Spanish, blow them away with the fact that you grew up in a Spanish bilingual household. If they want someone who is functional in Photoshop, knock their socks off with the fact that you are an expert in the entire Adobe Creative Suite.

3.Beware of hobbies.

Few companies care that you regularly go base-jumping or that you build ships in bottles. In many cases, strange hobbies can raise red flags with more conservative hiring managers. The fact is, in most cases, you really don’t know the person who will read your resume. They may hate base-jumping and consider it a sign of a foolish self-abandon. They may think ships in bottles are for people with no social life. Unless specific hobbies are mentioned in job description or on the corporate site, don’t bring them up.

4. If in doubt, leave it out.

Finally, if you just don’t have any skills or interests worth mentioning, feel free to leave out the Skills and Interests section altogether. Hiring managers will notice gaps in your education or work experience, but few are known to note a missing Skills section. Besides, word on the street is that the Skills and Interests section is on the way out.

Do you have any tips on how to make a great Skills section? Have a gripe about it? Tell us in the comments below!

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