Employers like to see evidence of skills and knowledge, not just a list

What makes a resume stand out? Not a big list of skills and buzzwords. It may be tempting to include fancy terminology and phrases like “synergistic thinker” or “visionary leader” but what matters is showing the context in which you demonstrated those skills. Just listing “leadership” or “Java” on a resume isn’t enough information for a recruiter or hiring manager to determine whether your skill level is a good fit with the position they are looking to fill. It is important to list the skill and give details. So, what counts as good evidence?

One of the best places to demonstrate your skills is in the experience section of your resume. Include clear, detailed descriptions of what you accomplished in a project, internship, volunteer experience, or campus club. Focus on the addressing the “how” and “so what” questions about your tasks. For example, compare these two descriptions:

  • Developed leadership skills as part of a team
  • Led a group of 12 middle school students on a 2-week outdoor adventure trip ensuring safety and appropriate educational experiences for all participants

Which one has more evidence of leadership? Accuracy is critical—this is not the time to inflate your experiences or embellish what you accomplished. However, including key details and what happened as a result of your work provides clear context for your skills.

By Catherine Basl
Catherine Basl Career Counselor