Creating a resume for your first job can be a daunting task.
With minimal or no exposure to the corporate world, it could be challenging to create a resume that checks all the right boxes and stands out of the crowd.
While most of the resume has the usual suspects – candidates’ details, education qualifications, projects, training, etc., a very important section that can help you look unique is the skills section.
Now if you’re wondering whether you should create a separate section for it or not – think no further. You need it!
A skill section is where you specify the skills that you have (or you’ve acquired) and can make you a better candidate for the job.
The purpose of these skills is to show how you’re better suited for the position that you’re applying for. This also means that all the skills listed in the skills section need to be specific to the job.
In this article, I am listing seven skills that will help you stand out and (hopefully) get you your first job.
1) Good Communication
Communication is a broad term and can comprise written as well as verbal communication.
It’s an extremely important skill that is hard to quantify. No matter what job role you have, to be able to communicate clearly with your team, manager, or clients is a huge plus. You’ll be surprised to see how many people struggle in this area.
This is also a skill that is considered hard to learn as compared with any technical skill. So if you can convince the interviewer of your good communication skills, you’ve really differentiated yourself from the others.
When you’re being interviewed, you are anyway being judged on your verbal communication skills. If the conversation steer towards skills, try and give examples where you put your communication skills to use.
2) Time Management
Time management is again a skill that is needed in almost every job. As you grow in the organization, you’re likely to get more responsibility – such as more projects to handle or a team to manage.
With so many cogs in your work wheel, you’ll need a good strategy to manage your time. If your interviewer touches upon this, be prepared to share a couple of ways you efficiently manage your time.
You can give an example of how you prioritize tasks and get the work done. There are also many time management apps and frameworks (such as 80/20 rule or the Get Things Done approach) that you can talk about.
3) Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, PowerPoint)
Unlike soft skills such as communication or time-management, this one is a hard skill.
Since MS Office is widely used by organizations of all sizes, a good working knowledge of it can be a huge differentiator.
This becomes even more useful if your work involves using one of the MS Office applications in your day to day work – such as analyzing data and creating dashboards using Excel or creating client reports/presentations using Word/PowerPoint.
A lot of interviewer look for people who are proficient with MS Office applications as it means the candidate would need less training and can hit the road faster.
In case you decide to put MS Word or Excel or Powerpoint as one of your skills, make sure you’re prepared with some common interview questions.
4) Specific Technical Skills
If you’re applying for a technical job that requires a technical skillset, you can mention it here.
For example, if you’re applying for a job that involves programming, mentioning a couple of programming languages you know can help. If you’re applying for the job of a financial analyst, list down any finance certification you have done or any specific area of finance you know about.
Even if you are not proficient in the exact technical skill the interviewer is looking for, this indicates that you’re comfortable with it and can easily be up to speed with some training.
Note that this is a quantifiable skill and be ready to answer specific questions about the skill you mention.
5) Team Work
This again is a soft skill that is highly valued in the corporate world.
Since you’re looking for your first job, being a team player is going to be a big plus. While anyone can write these words in the skills section of their resume, make sure you have some facts/examples to back it up.
Since you have no corporate experience as of now, the interviewer doesn’t expect any big examples of this. Even simple tasks such as organizing an event or completing a difficult project with a team can be used to convey that you’re a team player.
6) Problem Solving
Organizations are looking for candidates that can tackle issues and solve problems. This is one skill that combines a lot of different traits – analytical and logical thinking, creative and structured approach, attention to detail, etc.
In case you’re asked about this – be ready with examples of how you were able to solve an issue and come up with a solution. In most cases, the interviewers are interested in your approach. So make sure you show them that you took time to analyze the situation and the plan of action you used to solve the problem.
7) Foreign Language
If you know one or more foreign languages, make sure it’s listed in the skills section.
While it may directly help in the case that language is needed in your job role, even if it has nothing to do with your job, it still portrays you in a good light.
People who know multiple languages have been proven to be more attentive, creative, and social. If nothing, it acts as a differentiator between you and all the other people with a similar resume.
Remember that just listing these skills is not going to help you get the job. It’s important to highlight how you apply these skills to get the work done. So make sure you spend some time and prepare relevant examples to highlight your proficiency in that skill.
Also, you should limit the number of skills you mention in your resume. While you may find a lot of skills worth mentioning, only list it if you think it will help you prove your candidature for the job.
Remember that you need to tailor your skill section based on the job you’re applying for.