Hard Skills Examples for Resume Writing
To perform any job, you need a very particular set of skills called hard skills. Hard skills are key to advancing your career and can even help you build a resume that attracts recruiters. But what are hard skills? Why do you need to learn about them?
In this guide, we’ll look at
- What are hard skills?
- How to list hard skills in a resume and cover letter.
- Tips to add hard skills to your resume and cover letter.
What are hard skills?
“Hard skills are the things that you gain through hands-on experience, your training, your education, it’s the competencies you need to complete [your job],” says Debra Wheatman, president of Careers Done Write.
Hard skills, often called technical skills, can be learned. You can acquire these skills through education, training like courses and certifications, and on-the-job experience. Hard skills help employers determine if you are able to perform the job.
“On a resume, it’s great because you can attach [hard skills] to something specific, like let’s say you built a model and you can attach the outcome to that. It’s easier to attach an outcome to hard skills than to soft skills,” says Wheatman.
Hard skills vs soft skills
We use hard skills and soft skills to perform at our jobs. Hard skills relate to the nitty gritty of our work: the tools used, the spoken or written languages, the programming, the administrative tasks, the services rendered. Soft skills relate to how we work and interact with others: communication, creativity, teamwork, active listening, cultural competence, empathy. Your resume should reflect a balance between both. The general rule is to include between six and eight skills in your resume.
What are the differences between these two sets of skills?
- Abilities learned through education and training, like online courses and certifications
- Abilities learned on the job, like customer service, computer skills and public speaking.
- Job-specific skills, like data entry, student assessment, and medical billing.
- Improved through more education and experience
- Innate or learned personal (creativity)
- Interpersonal abilities (communication, active listening)
- Habits and behaviors
- Improved through habits, priorities and introspection
Unlike soft skills, which can be used in any industry, hard skills are not always transferable. While you can use a few across some industries, like Microsoft Excel, a different language or data analytics, hard skills are, for the most part, job-specific.
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100+ Hard skills examples (by job category)
These hard skills examples work for specific industries. “It takes a little bit of time for people to develop these skills, but it’s perfectly doable,” says Wheatman, “You just have to be interested in learning.”
- Curriculum development
- Classroom management systems
- Presentation skills
- Record keeping
- Pedagogical content
- Structured and unstructured interactive teaching
- Grade-level specific knowledge
- Administrative skills
- Language skills
- Technology skills (Google Suite, Microsoft Office)
You bring attention to the product and value companies offer with your creativity and analytical skills. These skills help you connect with consumers and other companies. Positions in social media, product managers, and public affair specialist can use the following hard skills.
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
- A/B testing
- Data analytics
- Competitive research and analysis
- Sales channels
- Machine learning
- Market research
- Social media
- Content management
This ever-growing industry is an example of transferable skills. These hard skills can be used by positions like test manager, Drupal developer and Devops engineer, among many others can use in their programming jobs.
- Programming language
- Cloud computing
- Data structures
- Network protocols
- Machine learning
- Database systems
- Version control system
Beyond call centers and retail, customer service is the face and human connection businesses have with their consumers. These skills help provide a better service and improve customer satisfaction.. Positions like client service specialist, call center team leader and banking representative can benefit from the following
- Product expertise
- Data entry
- Customer management
- Point of Sales
- Marketing knowledge
- Language proficiency
- Microsoft Office
- Digital communication
Providing care in hospitals and at homes, the nursing industry uses important hard skills to treat patients and provide support to medical staff. Positions like registered nurse, nursing assistant and geriatric nurse practitioner benefit from these hard skills.
- Patient assessment
- Patient safety
- Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
- Medication management
- Wound care
- Case management
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- IV-Line Placement
Maintaining financial records, budgeting and taxes are important skills for this industry. Jobs as project accountant, internal auditor, accounting administrator, among other positions can benefit from including these hard skills on their resumes.
- Analytical skills
- Budget forecasting
- Asset management
- Financial management
- Audit planning
- Risk management
- Process flow
- Cash flow analysis
Fitness and Nutrition
Promoting healthy habits and helping achieve fitness goals, this industry has a wide variety of jobs. Positions like dietary aide, wellness director and fitness and personal trainer could include these skills on their resume.
- Body composition evaluation
- PPE compliance
- ACSM Health and Fitness Instructor
- Public presentation
- State regulation
- Food preparation
- Fitness assessment
Responsible for patient records, treatment and diagnosis, medical coding specialist, physician assistant, speech language pathologist rely on the following hard skills to perform their job duties.
- Patient referral
- Diagnosis condition
- Payment processing
- Record assessment
- Treatment planning
- Case management
- Specialty care
- Infection control and aseptic procedure
- Community outreach
- Equipment maintenance
Keeping a business running smoothly requires important hard skills that translate to other industries. Positions like vendor relationship manager, general manager and risk analyst use these hard skills.
- Product development
- Budget management
- Risk analysis
- HR knowledge
- Data processing
- Management information systems
- Project development
- Workflow planning
- ISO 9001 & ANSI Standards
- Supply chain management
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How to include hard skills in a resume
When choosing the hard skills to put on your resume, always keep the job description in mind and research the company. It’ll bring the best attention to your application. As you are resume writing, you’ll notice skills throughout the document. Each section will feature them in a different way and according to your resume template.
- Skills section — This dedicated section should include a list of six to eight hard and soft skills. When tailoring your resume, keep the job description in mind. The description will have the information needed to create an eye-catching skills section. Include every skill you have that they are looking for.
- Professional summary or resume objective — This section is your introduction to the hiring manager, it should include one to three hard skills that are most relevant to your target job. Point out something you recently accomplished using a hard skill, such as “Managed an annual budget of more than $1M for the last two years.”
- In your work history — The work history or experience section should include a list of achievements for each position you’ve held. To introduce your hard skills and explain how you successfully used them, use the PAR method, which stands for Problem Action Result. For example, “Analyzed KPIs through Tableau and Salesforce to establish a new successful marketing strategy resulting in a 18% sales increase”.
How to include hard skills in a cover letter
A cover letter allows you to share concrete examples of your skills. You can include hard skills in the opening and body paragraphs. Use the opening paragraph to reiterate your strongest skill, including your years of experience, and explain how having that skill can benefit the company.
Use storytelling in the cover letter’s body paragraph to include important accomplishments. As you narrate how you achieved it, include all the hard skills you used in the process. For example, if you’re a personal trainer retelling how you assisted in training an athlete, speak about your accurate assessment skills, how your ACE certification allowed you to prepare an effective training and how your PT Hub knowledge helped you monitor progress.
Find a cover letter example and get inspired to write your own.
Highlight your hard skills in a cover letter
Writing a cover letter can help your application by helping you expand on the points from your resume and include more information about your career, experience and interest in the company.
Our Cover Letter Builder can help you create a cover letter quickly and easily. Our step-by-step and industry specific expert suggestions do the work for you. You can edit the content to your liking, change the template until you’re satisfied and save to return later.
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Tips for adding hard skills to a resume and cover letter
- Research the company before preparing your skills section.
- Tailor your skills section (and the resume format) to the job description.
- Avoid including hard skills that do not benefit the position or company.
- Include your proficiency or expertise level before or after the skill. For example, Native Spanish Speaker or Mandarin (Intermediate).
- Use bullet points for an ATS friendly resume.
- Personalize your cover letter to the job description by including all the hard skills you have mentioned in the ad.
- Combine your soft and hard skills to include accomplishments that showcase both skill sets. For example, explain how your knowledge as an Android software developer helped you create an application in record time.
- Add a hard skill not mentioned in the job description which works great with the job. For example, if you want to work at a bakery and have photography experience.
- Use the PAR method to write about an accomplishment.
Key hard skills takeaways
- Hard skills are competencies to perform a job. These abilities can be learned through education, training and on-the-job experience.
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- These skills can be improved with more training and experience.
- Despite being touted as industry-specific, many hard skills are transferable among industries, particularly those involving software knowledge.
- A resume can be filled with hard skills and you can highlight them according to their placement.
Are hard skills more important than soft skills?
It will depend on the job, but generally speaking, your resume should show a balanced mix of hard and soft skills. Employers need candidates with the hard skills to perform the job, and the soft skills that fit with the company culture in the long term. Strive to acquire and improve the hard skills in your desired career, while working on bettering your soft skills through life and job experiences.
Are hard skills the same as transferable skills?
No. Transferable skills are soft skills used across industries, no matter how different. While certain hard skills can be transferable, like Google Workspace, coding, marketing and project management, hard skills are mostly job-specific. Hard skills help you perform your job, so even if you bring the knowledge from a different industry, it won’t be used exactly the same.
What are the top 10 hard skills employers look for?
These are the top 10 hard skills employers are looking for. These skills translate to different industries, which can help you advance in your career and change industries more confidently.
- Social media skills
- Project management skills
- Hard communication skills
- Analytical skills
- Sales skills
- Management skills
- Digital marketing
- Customer service
- Computer science
How can I highlight my hard skills in a job interview?
Job interviews are about learning more about who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and why hiring you benefits the company.
Use the PAR or STAR technique to answer the questions that require storytelling. PAR stands for Problem Action Results. After explaining the problem, use the action part to include all the hard skills you used to achieve the results.
Employers will ask behavioral interview questions about what tools and skills you have used in previous jobs. This is an opportunity to list the skills you have that the company needs. You can also include other skills that could benefit the company, even if they weren’t mentioned in the job description.