Your skills section is one of the most important parts of your Handshake profile—if you do it right. The keywords in this section help Handshake recommend relevant jobs to you. Your skills also help recruiters find you on Handshake. And it lets them easily understand your skillset, without digging through your resume.
We analyzed the top skills employers are searching for on Handshake. Here are our best tips to stand out to employers.
Identify the skills needed in your industry
Start by figuring out what skills you need in your chosen industry. Scan the qualifications sections of the job descriptions you’re interested in to identify what skills keep coming up. Does your target job require coding skills or software knowledge? Or specific prior experience, like customer service or project management? What appears in the “nice to have” section of the job description that could give you an edge? List all the skills that you already have, and plan how you can learn the skills you are missing.
Keep it specific
Be as precise as possible when listing your skills. Instead of saying “communication,” say “blog writing” or “public relations.” Instead of “organizational skills,” write “project management” or “event planning.”
Skip “soft skills”
When employers search on Handshake, they are using specific keywords, like Python, C++, HTML, and Spanish. They are looking for “hard skills”: abilities that can be defined and measured.
In contrast, “soft skills” are more subjective, and describe your personality or temperament. These are qualities that you can demonstrate with examples on your resume and in the interview process. But these are not the search terms employers are using to find candidates. Skip subjective phrases like “hard worker” or “interpersonal skills”. See our post about the right way to show off your soft skills!
Remove obvious or irrelevant skills
Your skills section is for showing off the unique things you can bring to a job. So, don’t list “Microsoft Word” or “problem solving.” An employer will expect you to have those baseline abilities already.
And leave off skills that are irrelevant to your career: you might be skilled at knitting, but it won’t help you land a sales role. Put hobbies and activities in a separate “interests” section, instead.
If you took a few units of French, don’t claim you are fluent! It will make for a very awkward interview. Be prepared to describe how you learned and used a skill—if you can’t do that, leave it off your profile.
Keep it up to date
Add skills as you gain new experience in leadership roles, internships, campus jobs, clubs, or complete technical certifications. Consider setting a calendar reminder at the end of each semester to update your profile.
If you can’t hone a skill through coursework or internships, resources like Coursera or Udacity’s nanodegrees can help fill the gap.
Need more help? Make an appointment with your college’s career center, or turn to these online communities for tips.
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