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  • How to Showcase Your Hard Skills

    hard1Medicine, engineering, technology ― careers in these fields are incredibly prestigious and satisfyingly high-paying, making these jobs some of the most lusted-after openings in the market. Unfortunately, not just anyone can waltz in and snag a position in these industries. These fields and others require workers to have particular skills that require difficult training, so only a select group is capable of getting hired.

    In fact, most employers expect job candidates to have similarly hard-to-attain (or simply “hard”) skills, but few candidates understand how to report their hard skills during the application process. Generally, at best, applicants include an uninspiring list on their resumes; at worst, they don’t mention them at all. Hard skills are quickly becoming the best resources to get workers hired, so it is important to showcase them on any and all application materials. Here’s how to do that to maximal effect.

    Use Flashier Formatting

    It may feel a bit too obvious, but altering the formatting of the section on your resume will naturally draw the hiring manager’s eye to your hard skills. This isn’t to say that it is appropriate to use bright red, block letters; rather, subtle differences, like italics for descriptions or distinct bullet markers, can set the section off. Alternatively, you can highlight your use of hard skills within your work experience section by bolding or underlining pertinent words or phrases. This is a good trick for when you must submit your resume before securing an interview because it grabs your potential future employer’s attention.

    Employ Industry Terms

    Likely, the hiring managers at your future employer isn’t as entrenched in your field as you are, and you might be tempted to dumb-down your language so anyone can understand your skills. However, HR reps aren’t the only people to see your application materials, and your future co-workers and bosses like to see proof that you have applicable knowledge and experience.

    Using jargon may feel incorrect, but as long as you appropriately apply industry-appropriate terms, you can highlight your hard skills through your fluency with the language. Plus, when faced with an overabundance of applications, many hiring managers perform a keyword search for industry-related words and phrases, so it helps to use relevant terms.

    Quantify Everything

    hard2Simply claiming that you are a “proficient coder” or a “skilled designer” doesn’t prove anything to your potential future employer ― except that you might be able to use a thesaurus. Data and proof is the life-blood of modern businesses, and you should infuse your resume with hard facts and figures to establish your skills and knowledge.

    As long as you aren’t lying about your hard skills, it shouldn’t be difficult to back them up. For example, if you want to brag about your experience as a server administrator, you might mention how many users you supported, what systems you ran, what types of issues you encountered, and what improvements you made. Data is easier to appreciate than vague verbiage, so be generous with your facts and figures.

    Another way to quantify any hard skills you have is to include a list of any relevant certifications you may have earned, leaving HR and anyone who reviews your resume with proof of your knowledge. Certifications can boost your attractiveness, so if you don’t currently have any, consider taking relevant tech courses online to prepare for the exams, possibly for CompTIA or SSCP. If you’re applying for a medical position, some relevant certifications to consider are CCMA or CPT. Just make sure the certifications are relevant to the position, or they’ll look nice but won’t be as helpful.

    Be Liberal With Examples

    Numbers are good, but then again, actual examples are even better. You should work to compile a portfolio of your completed works to substantiate the claims you make on your application materials. Your portfolio should be available all over the place ― online on a dedicated website (like this one), in your hands during the interview, and passed to the hiring manager on a flash drive before you leave. You should also be able to provide anecdotes and explanation of your work during and after the interview to demonstrate your proficiency with your hard skills.

    Don’t Disparage Soft Skills

    No matter how important hard skills are to your line of work, every employer wants workers with soft skills. These are skills you don’t usually learn in school, skills that require emotional intelligence and for which the skills constantly change. At every job, soft skills like communication and teamwork are vital, so while you are highlighting your hard skills, you should be wary of being scornful toward the others.

    In fact, showcasing your soft skills in the same manner might set you apart from your competitors, who choose to focus on their abilities and education. When trying to get a job, all relevant skills matter, so you should avoid being too judgmental of certain strengths.

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