Skills Not to Include on a Resume

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 When you’re writing or updating your resume, it’s always a good idea to include the skills you have that show why you’re qualified for the job. Your top skills can be included in a separate “Resume Skills” section, and they can be worked into the job descriptions you write for the positions you’ve held.

These are the skills that will bolster your resume, but there are also some skills you shouldn’t put on your resume because they could hurt your chances of getting chosen for an interview.

The skills you mention will help your resume get selected by the ATS (applicant tracking system) employers use to screen applications. If you’re a match for the position, your qualifications and skill set will show the hiring manager that you’re a viable candidate for the role.

When adding skills to your resume though, it’s important to be selective and specific. Hiring managers want to know why you’re a strong candidate for the job, not everything you’ve been qualified to do for your whole working life. They also don’t want to know about all the things you can do which have nothing to do with the job for which you applied.

The person who screens your resume is interested in the value you can offer the company, and that means being a good fit for the job requirements listed in the help wanted ad.

Skills Not to Include on Your Resume

Skills You Don’t Have: This may seem obvious, but more people than you might think put things on their resume that don't belong there.

A CareerBuilder survey reports that more than three-quarters of Human Resources managers (77 percent) report having caught a lie on a resume. Some of those lies include exaggerating or embellishing the qualifications the applicant has for a job.

If you don’t have any of the skills the employer is seeking, there may not be much point in applying.

Don’t make things up in order to get hired. It will come back to haunt you in the long run, if you don’t have the skills you advertised on your resume. Even if you’re a quick learner, you may not have a good grasp of what you need to know if, by some chance, you are offered the job.

What could be worse is getting grilled about your qualifications during a job interview, and not being able to respond because you don’t know enough to give a solid answer to the question.

Obsolete Skills: If you are (or were) a pro at working with MS-DOS, Lotus 1-2-3, or Vista, for example, don’t put it on your resume. If you know how to backup files onto a floppy disk, keep that skill to yourself. There are many technologies that are obsolete, and knowing how to use them isn’t an asset other than in rare circumstances.

If you have been out of the workforce for a while, take the time to ensure the skills you list on your resume are still current and in-demand by employers.

Skills That Aren’t Relevant to the Job: The CareerBuilder survey that reported on resume lies, also reported on some of the most cringe-worthy resume gaffes. One of them was listing a skill as “taking long walks.” Long walks are a great way to stay in shape and unclutter your mind, but, unless you’re applying for a job that involves hiking or outdoor fitness they don’t belong on your resume.

If the skills you have aren’t remotely related to the job you’re applying for, leave them off.

General and Overused Skill Words: LinkedIn publishes an annual list of buzzwords that are overused in profiles. Some of those words don’t belong on your resume either. Before you use them, consider if there’s another, more specific, term that would better describe your abilities. Here’s LinkedIn’s list of overutilized words to avoid:

  • Specialized
  • Leadership
  • Passionate
  • Strategic
  • Experienced
  • Focused
  • Expert
  • Certified
  • Creative
  • Excellent

More: 30 Words That Will Make or Break Your Resume

Skills That Everyone Should Have Already: Some of the overused buzzwords listed above are skills that employers expect job applicants to have. The expectation is that you’ll be focused, have some experience unless you’re applying for an entry-level position, and will do an excellent job if you were to be hired.

You don’t need to spell it out for the employer. 

On a similar note, don’t list things like Microsoft Office, email, or internet. The expectation is that everyone knows the basics that are required for almost every job in today’s workplace.

What to Do Before You Submit Your Resume

Before you submit your resume to apply for a job, take the time to write a resume that’s going to give you the best opportunity to get the interview. You don’t have to spend a lot of time editing your resume to fit the employer’s job requirements, and taking a few minutes to customize it will give you an advantage.

Take the Time to Decode the Job Ad: How can you tell what the employer wants in a perfect applicant for the job? You can learn a lot from the job posting, and, if you need to, you can spend time researching the job and the company to learn more details.

Here’s what to look for when you’re reviewing the job ad, including how to evaluate the job title, qualifications, requirements, responsibilities, and required experience.

Make a Match: Now that you’ve learned what the employer wants, match your qualifications to the job. Make a list of the skills in the job posting in one column. List the skills and experience you have that make you a contender for the job in the second column. Use the skills that are the closest match to what the employer is seeking in your resume.

Be Specific Don’t List General Skills: Especially if you’re applying for a tech role, don’t just list “Computer Skills.” Instead, include the programming languages, hardware, software, apps, and other skills that qualify you for the job. If you have certification, be specific when you list that certification. For example, list QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor, AWS Certification, SQL, iOS, Java, etc.

Use your resume to highlight the skills you have that will be valuable to the employer. If you’re applying for a tech job, you can list all your computer skills in a separate section.

Tailor Your Resume for the Job: Job postings may seem similar, but every employer has a different set of requirements. The job title may be the same, but what each employer is seeking may be different. It’s important to tailor your resume, so it showcases your qualifications. Take a few minutes to tweak your resume, so it matches the job.

Skills to Include on Your Resume

What skills should you include on your resume? Here are the best skills for resumes listed by type of skill and by job title. Review the lists to ensure you include your most relevant and marketable skills on your resume. Leave off the skills that don’t apply, and you’ll have a resume that’s focused on why you’re a strong candidate for the job.

More About Resume Writing: What Not to Include When You’re Writing a Resume | How to Build a Resume in 7 Simple Steps