Whether or not you can do a job—and whether or not you can land that job—often depends on your technical skills. Technical skills are a subset of hard skills, which are the knowledge or abilities needed to perform specific tasks. When those specific tasks require you to work with a piece of technology or equipment or to use a certain technique, they are called technical skills.
Technical skills can include using a certain computer program, video production equipment, or financial modeling techniques. And guess what? Even if your job doesn’t involve programming or even sitting at a computer, chances are you’ve got ’em. “Every industry has technical skills,” says Muse career coach Tina Wascovich, founder of Wascovich Coaching. You might need to know how to use a POS (or point of sale) system if you work in a restaurant, for example, or operate medical equipment and perform certain procedures as a nurse.
Technical skills are often foundational to your ability to do a job and because of that, they’re essential in every job search. After all, you can’t expect to be hired as a software engineer if you don’t show employers that you know how to code.
How to Know Which Technical Skills You Need for a Job You’re Applying To
You might already have a general idea of which technical skills are most important for the type of role you have or want to land next. But each individual job requires a specific set of technical skills. For example, if you’re applying for social media positions, you might know that generally you need a strong knowledge of how to manage profiles on popular social platforms. But for certain social media positions, you might need particular expertise in LinkedIn or Instagram or you might be in charge of creating graphics to go along with posts and therefore need to know how to use Canva, Photoshop, or another design program.
So take a close look at each job posting you’re interested in to find out which technical skills matter for that specific job. See what software, platforms, operating systems, equipment, techniques, or programming languages are mentioned. You should also pay attention to how you’d be using any technologies listed and what level of proficiency you’ll need, says Muse career coach Tara Goodfellow, founder of Athena Consultants. Will you just be participating in Zoom meetings or do you need to be able to facilitate large virtual events with breakout rooms? Will you be using a VPN or setting it up and maintaining it for a company that’s currently 100% remote?
Note all of the required and preferred technical skills for a job opening you’re planning to apply for and mark all of the ones you have direct experience with and ones where you have related experience. For example, there are a number of common content management systems (CMSs) and many companies have built their own, so your experience with WordPress could be transferable to Squarespace, Drupal, or a company’s proprietary CMS. These are the technical skills that belong on your resume.
How to Add Technical Skills to Your Resume
For any job you apply to, you should tailor your resume so that you “showcase the targeted and relevant skills that demonstrate you’re the right person for the role,” Wascovich says. That means including all of those skills you identified in the job posting that you have direct or related experience with.
Whenever possible, use the same language as the job description since many recruiters use applicant tracking systems (ATSs) to search resumes for relevant keywords. For example, if the job description calls for experience building projection models, don’t just say you’ve used MathWorks MATLAB and leave it at that—make sure the words “building projection models” are on your resume, too. If you have a related skill, you might say use a phrase like “proprietary CRM (similar to Salesforce)” on your resume so that you incorporate keywords while still being honest, Wascovich says.
You should list all of your relevant technical skills in a skills section. This makes it easy for people looking at your resume to spot if you have the required qualifications before they read more closely. If you’re very early in your career and don’t have a lot of skills, you might list all of your skills together in one string, Wascovich says. Otherwise, you can separate your skills into categories with technical skills being one of them. For a tech-heavy role, you might go even further and create multiple, more specific categories for your technical skills, Goodfellow says.
For example, a data analyst might list their technical skills like this:
Analytical Skills: Data Collection, Data Mining, Data Visualization, Regression Analysis, Statistical Testing
Software Proficiencies: Google Analytics, Looker, Tableau, Microsoft Excel (including Power Pivot and macro creation)
“Don’t just list the skills though,” Goodfellow says. You also want to show how you’ve used the skills and the results you got. This means writing achievement-focused bullet points under your past experience that explicitly mention your technical skills and put them into context.
For example, you might say something like this to highlight your search engine optimization (SEO) skills:
- Researched SEO keywords using SEMrush to plan search-optimized articles and tracked performance using Google Analytics, resulting in 75% of articles ranking on page 1 of Google results within 6 months of publication.
You can further emphasize that you have important technical skills by including them in a resume summary. If you have certificates or certifications that speak to relevant technical skills, you should include those as well, Wascovich says.
Example Technical Skills
Here are some categories of technical skills and examples of each to get you started thinking about which ones you have and can highlight in your job search.
Coding and Programming
These skills are most relevant for software engineers and similar roles, but having some coding skills can help you in a number of other jobs as well. For example, writers who post to the internet often have to use HTML and designers can benefit from knowing some front-end languages.
- Application Scaling
- Back-End Framework
- Database Administration
- Search Engine Optimization
- Website Navigation Optimization
Many jobs require some amount of reflection on past performance (or prediction of future performance). These technical skills speak to your ability to evaluate data and use it to make decisions that will improve performance for you or your company.
- Creating Dashboards
- Compiling Statistics
- Data Cleaning
- Data Mining
- Data Visualization
- Database Design
- IBM Cognos Impromptu
- Machine Learning
- Microsoft Excel (including what functions you’re proficient in)
- Projection Modeling
- Regression Analysis
- Statistical Tests
- The MathWorks MATLAB
Digital Marketing (Including Social Media)
These technical skills are of course most relevant for people working in digital marketing—whether you’re a generalist or a specialist in social media, email, or e-commerce—and speak to your knowledge of different online marketing strategies. They also speak to how you present information online and evaluate the results, and so can be relevant to anyone working with the internet in any capacity.
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Demand Generation
- Facebook Management
- Google Ads
- Google Analytics
- Instagram Management
- LinkedIn Management
- Marketing Automation and Technology
- Marketo Marketing Automation
- Power Editor
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Social Media
- Twitter Management
This category covers the programs and software you might need to do specific types of jobs (like sales) or to communicate and collaborate within your company or with clients. When it comes to more basic software (like Microsoft Word) make sure to only include it when it’s specifically listed in the job posting or relevant to the job. For many of the technical skills in this category, consider including what functions you’ve performed within the programs. For example, VLOOKUPs in Microsoft Excel or building a company website using Squarespace.
- Accounting Software: Sage 50 Accounting, QuickBooks, NetSuite
- Communication Software: Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom
- Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM): Salesforce, HubSpot
- Content Management Systems: Drupal, Squarespace, Wix, WordPress
- Design Software: Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop), AutoCAD, Canva, Microsoft Visio
- Google Software: Analytics, Cloud, Docs, Drive, Forms, Search Console, Sheets, Slides
- Learning Management Systems: Blackboard, Canvas, Google Classroom
- Microsoft365: Excel, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Teams, Word
- Project Management Software: Airtable, Asana, Jira, Trello