Each week, TopResume's career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions on Quora like the one below. We'll be republishing those answers here. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.
What are technical skills?
Technical skills are a type of hard skills, generally based around technology; they are the types of proficiencies you can gain in a classroom or complete a test on. You either know them or you don't, and that's why they are important markers for whether or not a candidate is qualified for a job.
Though it may seem like these skills are only important in highly technical fields like IT, our digital-centric world means they come into play in almost every industry. From project management and data analysis to social media and math, you likely use a number of technical skills every day, whether you realize it or not.
Why are technical skills important?
When a hiring manager sends out a listing, it's because they have a specific job that needs to be done. Therefore, if there are certain technical proficiencies required to execute that job, you simply have to possess the know-how if you want to be considered for the position.
Having the technical skills an employer is looking for is an indicator that you could be a good fit for the job. However, if you don't show those skills off on your resume, the hiring manager won't know it. Your resume may not even reach them because it won't pass through the ATS. That's why it's essential to include a Technical Skills section as well as weave these skills into your Work Experience section.
What should be included in the Technical Skills section of a resume?
The skills that should occupy your resume's Technical Skills section are the ones that prove you are qualified for the job at hand. But how do you find out what those are? Should you include every skill you've gained over the years? How do you choose which to highlight?
This is where the job description is your greatest tool. For each job you apply for, the listing will likely include a “Requirements” section that lays out the key proficiencies and traits needed to do the job ‒‒ including technical skills. After looking through your proverbial professional toolbox, pick out and highlight the technical skills that best match what each particular employer is looking for.
Examples of skills you might include in your Technical Skills section:
Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Hootsuite, Buffer, TweetDeck
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: RightNow, Salesforce.com (SFDC), Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Blog Platforms: WordPress, HubSpot, Movable Type, FlatPress
Email Service Providers (ESPs): BlueHornet, MailChimp, ConstantContact, Iterable
Project Management Tools: Trello, Asana, Microsoft Project, Basecamp
If you're using a proprietary system (in other words, a system your company built for its employees to use), you can mention that as well by saying “proprietary [describe what the system or tool allows you to do] system.”
How to incorporate technical skills on your resume
Where you place and what you list within the Technical Skills section of your resume will largely depend upon your line of work. If you're working in a non-technical role, such as sales, marketing, finance, HR, or operations (to name a few), your Technical Skills section is usually located underneath the Education and Professional Development section of your resume. Here, you should list the various tools you've learned and used over the course of your career.
Whether you work in a technical field or not, look for opportunities to incorporate this technical skills information into your work history. When you're describing a task you're responsible for, mention the tools you use to complete that task.