Remember school days, when you were assigned a 10-page paper but you only had eight pages of relevant content? Or that speech class where you were supposed to speak for five minutes but only prepared for four-and-a-half? What did you do? Add filler, of course.
The real world isn't quite the same. Job seekers, especially those just starting out, might feel the need to pad their resume with so-called skills. But both your cover letter and resume should be marketing documents that entice a hiring manager. The precious space you're afforded should include targeted content that illustrates how your experience and achievements mirror the qualifications requested in the job description. You should use—and list—your skills smartly. Feel free to omit these four from your final draft:
Typing. There are still professions for which it's a prerequisite to type 80 words per minute, particularly some office jobs. But unless the job description specifically asks for someone who can type quickly, you don't need to waste resume real estate acknowledging this skill. Generally, touch typing (the art of resting your fingers on a keyboard's home row, padding keys with particular fingers, and keeping your eyes on the source material) is a technique taken for granted in today's job market. According to Sarah Wright, the lead client representative for the Virginia-based ROCS staffing firm, most job seekers are familiar with QWERTY keys because of their Macbooks, iPads, and Nooks. Employers generally assume that everyone operates a computer keyboard proficiently. "It's not a completely dead skill," she says. "And it's certainly very important to be able to type quickly and efficiently, but many employers no longer specifically mention wanting you to have that skill."
Never Learned to Type?
Most jobs will forgive a two-fingered hunt-and-peck technique if you're dexterous on social networks. Wright says: "Social media is a very powerful tool in today's market, particularly LinkedIn." In addition, having a familiarity with Google +, knowing the ins and outs of Facebook, and staying savvy on Twitter-speak could be valuable skills to highlight on your resume.
Second Languages. The ability to speak a second and third language is a good thing to highlight on your resume. But keep in mind that a hiring manager probably won't show much enthusiasm for your mastery of French or Italian. "Job descriptions are often asking for candidates that can speak English and Spanish," Wright says. "[Speaking Spanish] is a powerful skill to possess in most occupations. And we're also finding that a person who speaks Spanish could be making a couple dollars more in the same position as someone who only speaks English."
Don't Know a Second Language?
It's OK—as long as you're effective at communicating in your first tongue. "You need to know the basics of grammar and capitalization [when writing in English]," Wright says. "You'd be surprised by how many candidates are not as strong in that area as they should be."
Microsoft Office Suite. Although it can handicap a job seeker to not use (or own) Microsoft Office Suite, mentioning this software on a resume won't give you an edge. Most hiring managers assume applicants know the basics, and you don't want to waste space writing, "Proficient at MS Office Suite" when you could have elaborated on a distinctive skill or a career accomplishment. You also don't want to hit a snag with that claim if, in reality, you can barely open an Excel spreadsheet.
Illiterate on PowerPoint and OneNote?
Don't panic. Many companies only use Excel, Outlook, and Word. Besides, you should spend time becoming versed in the latest software used in your field, and include that knowledge on your resume instead. "Each field has its own set of software, and you should stay up to date on how to use them," Wright says. "For example, within accounting, you should know how to use the latest forms of QuickBooks and Sage Peachtree."
Shorthand. Employers seeking court reporters, administrative assistants, and executive secretaries will find this skill useful, and applicants should specify on a resume which method(s) of shorthand they know. But bricklayers, registered nurses, and security guards can stay mum about possessing this talent. The need to use symbols for dictation and transcription has been depleted in the advent of high-tech audio recording equipment and stenotype machines.
Don't Understand Shorthand?
You don't know how to save time when taking notes, but maybe you have great project-management skills. Or perhaps you consistently overperform under deadlines. Emphasizing your time-management skills is always a good idea on a resume, particularly if you can give examples of your achievements.