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Top Skills to Put on a Resume Employers Will Actually Read

As the job market gets more competitive, crafting a resume that stands out to employers is crucial. One way to do that is by showcasing the top skills that employers are actively seeking. While there are various skills that can be valuable, especially for executive professionals, some skills are universally appealing to employers. Here, we will explore the top skills to put on a resume that employers will actually take notice of.

Top skills employers look for

Let us delve deeper into the top skills that employers are actively seeking in candidates. We will also give examples of how someone can write about these skills on their resume.

  • Leadership

Exceptional leadership skills are a hallmark of effective executives. Employers look for individuals who can guide their teams with vision and purpose. This involves not only making strategic decisions but also inspiring and motivating employees to achieve common goals. Leadership also encompasses the ability to lead by example, foster a culture of accountability, and effectively manage change within the organization.

Example: As a senior executive, I led a cross-functional team through a major company restructure, ensuring minimal disruption to operations while boosting employee morale by effectively communicating the rationale behind the changes.

  • Communication

Strong communication skills are a non-negotiable attribute for executives. Effective communication involves not only conveying ideas clearly but also active listening, which fosters better collaboration and understanding within the team. Exceptional communicators can articulate complex concepts in a simple and relatable manner, whether in written reports, presentations, or face-to-face interactions.

Example: I improved team collaboration by implementing regular video conferences and using collaborative project management tools, reducing miscommunication and ensuring everyone was aligned with project objectives.

  • Problem-solving

Employers highly value candidates who can identify, analyze, and resolve complex problems efficiently. Strong problem-solving skills enable executives to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of the organization. This skill involves critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to anticipate potential issues before they escalate.

Example: I devised a cost-effective solution to streamline our supply chain processes, resulting in a 15% reduction in operational costs and a significant improvement in product delivery times.

  • Adaptability

In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, adaptability is a prized skill. Executives who can navigate unforeseen challenges and pivot when necessary are assets to any organization. This involves being open to new ideas, embracing technological advancements, and staying attuned to market trends to ensure the company remains competitive.

Example: During the COVID-19 pandemic, I swiftly adapted our business model to accommodate remote work, which not only ensured employee safety but also maintained our productivity levels.

  • Strategic planning

Executives are responsible for charting the course of their organizations. Strong strategic planning skills are indispensable in setting clear objectives, identifying opportunities, and mitigating risks. An effective strategic planner can align the organization’s resources and efforts toward achieving its long-term goals.

Example: I spearheaded the development of a five-year strategic plan that resulted in a 25% increase in market share and positioned the company as an industry leader.

  • Financial acumen

For executive roles, financial management is paramount. Proficiency in financial analysis, budgeting, and resource allocation enables executives to make informed decisions that maximize profitability and minimize risk. It also involves understanding the financial implications of strategic choices and investment opportunities.

Example: I successfully negotiated a strategic partnership that not only increased our revenue by 30% but also optimized our financial structure, resulting in improved profitability.

  • Project management

Effective project management skills are essential for overseeing complex initiatives. Executives must be skilled in setting timelines, allocating resources, and ensuring successful project delivery. This involves coordinating cross-functional teams, tracking progress, and adjusting plans as needed to meet project objectives.

Example: I led a high-profile product launch project, which involved multiple teams and tight deadlines. By employing project management best practices, we delivered the product ahead of schedule, exceeding customer expectations.

By showcasing these skills on your resume and providing concrete examples of how you have applied them in your career, you can demonstrate to potential employers that you possess the qualities they are actively seeking in executive professionals.

Where do employers look for these skills?

Let us focus on where employers specifically look for these skills in resumes, cover letters, and interviews:

  1. Resumes: When reviewing resumes, employers pay close attention to the skills section. This is where candidates should prominently feature their key skills relevant to the executive role they are applying for. It’s crucial to use specific and action-oriented language. For instance, instead of simply listing “leadership,” specify “strategic leadership with a track record of achieving 20% annual revenue growth.
  2. Cover letters: Cover letters provide an excellent opportunity to elaborate on your skills. Use this space to tell a brief story or provide context for the skills mentioned in your resume. For instance, if you are highlighting your problem-solving ability, share a concise anecdote about a significant challenge you faced in your previous role and how you tackled it. This not only reinforces your skills but also demonstrates your ability to apply them in real-world scenarios.
  3. Interviews: Employers often use interviews to assess skills in action. Expect questions that probe your skills, such as “Can you provide an example of a challenging leadership situation you’ve encountered and how you handled it?” Be prepared to share specific, detailed responses that showcase your expertise. Additionally, behavioral interview questions are common in executive-level interviews. These questions aim to understand how you have demonstrated key skills in the past and predict how you might handle similar situations in the future. In interviews, it is also essential to maintain a professional demeanor and communicate clearly. Your ability to articulate your skills and experiences effectively in an interview setting can leave a lasting impression on employers. Practice beforehand to ensure you can confidently discuss your skills and provide compelling examples of how you have applied them throughout your career.

What is the best template to add skills?

When it comes to incorporating skills into your resume, consider using a skills-based or hybrid format. These templates place your skills front and center, allowing employers to quickly identify your qualifications. Start with a skills summary at the top of your resume, followed by your work experience and education.

In the skills summary, list your top skills using bullet points or a table format. Be specific and use keywords related to the job you are applying for. Use quantifiable achievements to support your skills whenever possible.

Ways to gain skills that employers would appreciate

  • Executive education programs: Enrolling in executive education programs, such as the Michigan Ross Chief Technology Officer Program or the MIT Professional Education Technology Leadership Program (TLP), can provide you with valuable skills and knowledge tailored to executive roles.
  • Online courses: Numerous online platforms offer courses on a wide range of skills. Consider platforms like Coursera, edX, or LinkedIn Learning.
  • Networking: Engaging with professionals in your industry can lead to skill-building opportunities. Attend conferences, webinars, and industry events to expand your knowledge.
  • Mentorship: Seek mentorship from experienced professionals in your field. Learning from their experiences can help you acquire valuable skills.

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In conclusion, your resume is a reflection of your qualifications and abilities. To capture an employer’s attention, focus on the top skills they value and present them in a clear, organized manner. By highlighting your leadership, communication, problem-solving, adaptability, strategic planning, financial acumen, and project management skills, you can create a resume that employers will not only read but also appreciate. Additionally, consider investing in executive education programs and other learning opportunities to continuously enhance your skillset and stay competitive in the job market.

To write a resume that employers will actually read, focus on clear formatting, use keywords from the job description, highlight relevant accomplishments, and keep it concise.

Most employers look for skills like communication, problem-solving, leadership, adaptability, and technical proficiency when reviewing resumes.

When creating your resume, include skills that align with the job you are applying for, emphasizing those most relevant to the position to make a strong impression on employers.

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