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Skills Resumes

When designing your resume, you'll want to spend some time deciding on the format that presents your background most favorably. Skills resumes, which have become very popular recently, stress abilities demonstrated through work experience and volunteer activities. In general, this type of resume describes what the job applicant has done to demonstrate skills relevant to his or her career objective.

Prospective employers like this type of resume for two reasons:

  1. Skills resumes require that an applicant select three or four of his or her strongest skills and organize experience under these categories. The skills selected should be relevant to the applicant's career objective. In other words, to develop a skills resume effectively, applicants must know themselves and the company's requirements pretty well. Therefore, a skills resume demonstrates the applicant's analytical ability as well as job skills.

  2. Because skills resumes emphasize the job applicant's abilities, regardless of where they were acquired, prospective employers don't need to sort through a list organized by dates or position titles to figure out what the applicant's strengths are.

The process for developing a skills resume is fairly straightforward. First, select three or four of your strongest skills -- skills, of course, that are essential for the position you're seeking. Then, select details from your work experience and activities that demonstrate how and when you have successfully applied these skills. Finally, order these skills and the details under them from most to least important.

For example, one section of a skills resume might look like the following:


  • designed and presented a three-hour workshop on editing strategies for 34 writers on staff of the Chronicle, St. Cloud State University's (SCSU) student newspaper

  • wrote a feature article on SCSU students' views of the Minnesota State University System merger for the St. Cloud Times

  • created a 20-minute educational video on careers in journalism, which will be used as a marketing tool for high school juniors and seniors by SCSU's Mass Communications department

  • trained 32 undergraduate Mass Communications majors to use QuarkXpress during three four-hour workshops

If you're thinking about using a skills resume, consider the following:

Because some people have used skills resumes to obscure problems in their employment histories, it is very important to be clear about when and where you demonstrated the skills you claim to have. One way to achieve this clarity is to include an "Employment" section that lists job titles, names of companies or organizations, and dates you worked there.

Each skill, then, should be linked directly to a particular job in the Employment section.

Sample Skills Resumes

Although the following sample resumes are for specific jobs and reflect specific experience, consider looking at them all for a wider range of ideas and strategies.

More Resume Tips

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LEO: Literacy Education Online

This homepage was written by Judith Kilborn for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University and may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.

Last update: 5 October 1999

URL: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/resumes/skills.html