The more experience you gain, the longer the list of your skills.

You may have to turn to mind-mapping techniques to remember all the technologies you have worked with.

Then you make a list of skills.

The list is too long, so you break it down into categories:

List of skills

Or into a table to make it easier to read:

Table with skills

Now it looks pretty and is definitely readable!

But still, it’s not what excites recruiters. Listing keywords without any context doesn’t tell a recruiter much.

Here are the problems with such a list and how to fix them.

1. The list has no focus and doesn’t highlight your strengths

The solution arrives: let’s add ratings!

Skills with ratings

The bad thing is that it now looks like you are mediocre at AWS and very bad at Kubernetes.

Instead, skip the obvious skills. For instance, front-end developers are expected to know HTML and JS.

Focus on the unique skills that differentiate your experience.

2. Your list is not highly relevant to the job opening

This means it’s hard to tell if you’re a good fit.

Companies don’t want all of your skills, at least not from the start. Instead, they want to make sure you have the qualifications needed to do the job.

Review the job posting for key skills.

Update your bullet points to include those skills. That means both: Add points that include key skills or rewrite them to focus on those skills Eliminate points that don’t include the required skills

It is a good idea to have a longer version of your resume. Then you can use it as a template. Just remove less relevant bullet points to customize it for a specific job.

3. The list lacks context. It doesn’t explain how you applied these skills.

“Kubernetes” is too broad. Did you deploy a pre-configured application on a cluster, or did you design the cluster architecture from scratch? Was it a small-scale dev environment or a high-availability production environment?

Use bullet points in your experience description. This is the best way. It lets you share what problem you faced, what skills you used, and what the outcome was.

To do this, you can use the Challenge-Action-Result technique I describe here.

For example,

“Designed and implemented a Kubernetes-based microservices architecture for a 20k RPM application”

which gives more context about your role, the scale of traffic, and the complexity of the tasks you handled.

For the sake of the ATS

Some add Skills section to get past the “ATS filter”, but it’s not necessary.

Recruiters will still look at your resume themselves and make a decision, not ATS. Make sure your resume contains 3-4 keywords that recruiters can use as a search term in their system. For example, “front-end”, “javascript”, and “react” if you’re a React developer.

Think of it the same way you think of a search query when you’re looking for job openings.

Now you can see that there’s no real reason to include a separate Skills section.

* * *

If you still want to have a Skills section:

  1. Put it at the very bottom of your resume page
  2. List only unique skills
  3. Don’t list skills that are obvious to your position