7 Critical Skills You’ve Left Off Your Resume (But Shouldn’t)

RejectedHow many times have you heard something like this in a rejection letter:

“While your qualifications were impressive, this round of candidates was excellent.”

Against such competition, how do you win? What do you need on your resume to jump up into the “excellent” level?

Here’s some critical skills that probably aren’t on your resume yet… but should be:


In today’s job market, there isn’t a single employer who doesn’t respect someone who took it upon themselves to learn a skill, or master a software program relevant to their organization. Demonstration of expertise using project management, Photoshop, Salesforce, Infusionsoft, Google Analytics – and maybe even a little coding – can take your resume from “meh” to “marvelous!”

Social Media Savviness

No. You aren’t a guru, ninja or an expert. But you do know your way around Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Your profiles may be the envy of all your friends and colleagues; the number of followers is respectful. Throw in your knowledge of Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Twitter Chats, LinkedIn Groups, Facebook ads – and whatever else you’ve dabbled in so far – and you just might impress the social media novice whose organization needs social help, right now.

Freelance Projects

Remember that project you did for the business near your campus? Or the couple of weeks you spent at that non-profit solving its biggest problem? Those mini-projects weren’t real jobs, no… but they were real experience. List every relevant project you’ve ever taken on. Display the impact you had on the organization you served (quantify!). Show your entrepreneurial spirit! And you’ll catch the attention of a hiring manager looking for someone not afraid to take on a project alone.

Content Creation

Have you begun blogging? Guest blogging? Have you begun to show your subject matter expertise in a podcast, or a video blog? Maybe a YouTube channel? Have you built a community of followers? All of those things go on your resume! Employers will respect that you are willing to let your thoughts be known, and aren’t afraid to stick your neck out. They’ll get a glimpse of your personality and passion. And – if the fit is right – they’ll develop a bond with the digital you, well before they call for an interview.

Industry Relevant Competitions

Speaking of not being afraid to stick your neck out: relevant competitions – online, through your community, industry associations, the local chamber of commerce, and your fraternity or sorority – are a great way to punch up your resume. Although a bonus (instant credibility), winning isn’t necessary!

Just show that you have competed for the third consecutive time at the regional business plan competition, for example, and entrepreneurial minded employers will be impressed. These organizations also make for great networking and keyword elements on your resume. An employer might say, “You were in the Alpha Kappa Psi CASE competitions? So was I!” And, just like that, a relationship has started – and an advantage gained.

Anything Leadership

On-campus clubs, volunteer assignments, part-time retail jobs, heading up a fund-raiser or a committee, campus ambassadorships… anything that shows you were leading from out front must go on your resume. Again, be sure to show your impact; don’t just say you are a lifelong learner, show your impact and talk about what you learned.

Conferences Attended

That person with the three to five years of experience on their resume… have they attended your industries’ annual convention this year? Last year? Ever? Probably not, but perhaps you did – giving you another advantage over the competition. While you were out there listening to Seth Godin, Dan Pink and Matt Cutts, your competition was watching Wheel of Fortune in their pajamas. Who would you hire?

Bonus: Reverse Mentorship

All that social media and blogging experience you’ve obtained… ever put it to good use? Ever walk a CEO through a Twitter chat? Or set up a WordPress blog for a solopreneur? Maybe helped get a Mom and Pop shop’s books in order, then show them how to run Quickbooks? Each of these instances of reverse mentorship shows you are willing to give back and teach across generational boundaries – a fine, and marketable, skill in today’s workforce.

Bonus: Theses, Studies and White Papers

Did you head up a research project? Write an industry relevant thesis that blew your professor away? Did you lead an on-campus or community-based study? Each of these projects shows attention to detail, problem solving and analytical thinking – three skills in high demand by nearly every employer. Again, show the impact of your work; and talk passionately about the mission. Employers don’t only want to know what you did… they want to know why you did it.

How does your resume look now? More professional? More complete?

More… “excellent”?


Mark Babbitt AuthorAbout the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable and Forbes regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.

AWorldGoneSocial 3D ThumbnailMark’s new book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM), with Ted Coine is now available.

Questions? Contact Mark on Twitter.



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