Navigating the job application process can be daunting. How can you make your resume stand out from the competition? Including your skill levels on your resume can make you a more attractive candidate and can encourage a hiring manager to more closely examine the distinctive background, abilities, and qualities that make you an exceptional employee.
In this article, we’ll discuss skill levels, how to include them on your resume, and give examples of how to properly format them:
Defining skill levels and why you need them.
How to include skill levels on your resume.
Examples of skill levels.
What are skill levels?
Just like the settings on a video game, you can define your abilities for certain hard skills and soft skills. The terms “beginner,” “intermediate,” “proficient” or “expert” can be used to demonstrate how much knowledge and expertise you have in a particular skill. When you incorporate these skill levels on your resume, you give a more in-depth view of your qualifications and how they are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Often, these skill levels help hiring managers weed through the applicant pool and determine who makes it to the next step in the hiring process. Putting together an accurate and up-to-date skill section can boost your probability of being selected when your resume is scanned through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
Knowing what to leave out can be just as important as what you include. Don’t bother listing basic computer skills, generalized skills, or humorous skills, like always getting a good parking space.
How do I include skill levels on my resume?
For most standard resumes, place your skills section after the “professional experience” section or after your resume summary.
Just giving a quick, one-sentence description probably won’t cut it. Measure your skill level with specific words, colors, or graphs. (You don’t have to do this for all of your skills — just the ones that are relevant to the job posting.) Be careful of assigning a number value to your skill level though — you might think an eight represents expertise, but the hiring manager may think nines or tens are what they’re looking for.
What are the 4 different types of skill levels?
You might choose to define your skill level by using experience-based categories, which helps hiring managers easily discern the areas in which you possess some proficiency. A simple, straightforward method of defining your skill levels is using four terms most people understand, such as:
Beginner: You can execute simple tasks and have a general understanding of the skill. (You might want to leave this off your resume, however. Chances are a hiring manager isn't looking for beginner-level skills.)
Intermediate: This is the lowest skill level you should define on your resume. If you have an intermediate-level skill, you do not have a comprehensive knowledge of that skill, but can carry out some mid-level commands.
Proficient: You easily navigate the necessary tasks and can deal with most issues that would arise on a day-to-day basis.
Expert: You know this skill backward and forward and can troubleshoot any problems that might arise without assistance.
According to Bernard Marr, author of “Future Skills: The 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in a Digital World,” there are twenty skills that are essential for everyone in today’s workplace. They include digital/data literacy, critical thinking, interpersonal communication, and digital threat awareness. Being an “expert” in these skills will help you stay at the top of your field.
Other methods of categorization
You can also include an eye-catching system for defining your skill levels. Utilizing colors can be creative and set you apart — just be sure to include a key so that anyone reading your resume knows what the colors mean!
For example, green could indicate expert, yellow could indicate proficient, and red could represent intermediate.
Green: Quickbooks ~ CRM ~ Excel
Yellow: SalesForce ~ Customer Service ~ Sales
Red: Financial Reporting ~ PowerPoint ~ Word
You might also consider separating your hard and soft skill levels and categorizing them accordingly. Hard skills can be specific to the job you're applying for, and soft skills are the more hard-to-define qualities that reflect the personal qualities that can help you succeed on the job.
Tips for listing your skill levels on your resume
How you incorporate your skill levels in the skills section of your resume is up to you, but here are a few tips to make the process easier:
Use a template. If organizing isn't your forte, a template can help you keep your information neat and easy to read.
List your strongest skills first. Hiring managers are more apt to keep reading your resume if they see applicable skills at the top of your list.
Make sure you have more high-level skills than lower ones. While you want a balance, you want your skill levels to be more expert than novice.
Tailor your skills to the job you're applying for. Include the required skills at the top of your skill list.
Examples of skills list and proficiency levels
So, how might these skills look on a resume? Utilizing the word-based labeling system, it might come together like this:
Database and SQL (expert) Cloud Computing (proficient) Sublime Text (intermediate)
English (native) Spanish (expert/fluent) Portuguese (proficient)
Conflict resolution (expert) Problem-solving (expert) Time management (intermediate) Active learning (proficient)
Be honest with your skill level. There might be a test!
Include skills that aren’t relevant to the job description.
Make sure to choose one method of defining your skill levels, and use it consistently throughout your resume.
Forget to provide evidence of your skills in other sections.
Keep your list easy to read.
List too many novice-level skills.
Other things to consider
You may not think you need to list your soft skills but think again. Soft (or interpersonal) skills can be as useful on the job as your technical expertise. Hard skills are easier to define — coding software, languages, or mechanical skills. But most employers want to know how you’ll put your “soft skills” to use in the workplace, and how comfortable you are with things such as public speaking, writing, or negotiating. Listing these skills with a proficiency label will help a potential employer identify the strongest candidates for the position. So make sure you include both hard and soft skills, and align them with the job description.
To meet your career goals, your resume needs to provide a clear representation of you, your experience, and your skills. To properly communicate your expertise in your field and your overall employability to hiring managers, quantify your skills with levels of expertise and show the hiring manager why you’re a top contender for the job.
Skill levels can be utilized on your resume to demonstrate how much knowledge and expertise you have in a particular skill set.
Define your skill level with specific words, colors, or graphs that can be quantified.
Include both hard and soft skill levels on your resume.