Maybe you’ve just graduated. Maybe it’s time for a career change. Maybe a position at an exciting and forward-thinking company has just been posted on LinkedIn. Maybe you’re looking for a higher salary. Either way, it’s time to dig out your resume and get ready to start crafting your application. And so here comes the $X-thousand-dollar-a-year question – how many skills should you list on your resume?
Resumes take time and patience to craft. When dream jobs come up, you can be sure that there will be plenty of applicants all vying to get that interview – and the only thing you’ve got to secure a seat on the other side of the desk is your resume. Smart job seekers invest great effort into getting career highlights and skill lists just right. And they need to.
The US is currently experiencing one of the tightest labor markets in history. For well over a year, the number of open jobs each month has been higher than the number of people looking for work. According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 7.3 million unfilled jobs in the US. As such, many companies have started to become more open-minded when considering candidates. Instead of emphasizing the need for specific titles and experience, organizations are now focusing on the skills that a potential new employee may bring to the company. Even organizations like IBM, Apple, Google and Bank of America no longer require applicants to have a degree.
Facebook also falls into this category. “The type of people we attract are really focused on solving big problems,” says Facebook’s Vice President of Human Resources, Janelle Gale. “Skills really matter the most. We actually value skills over experience in the grand scheme of things. Apply if you have the relevant skills even if you don’t have the right experience because we’re looking underneath the surface for what’s really going to matter here and that’s what skills you can bring to the table.”
What and How Many Skills to List on Your Resume
So, what skills, in particular, are employees looking for, and, indeed, how many skills should you list on your resume?
There are certainly plenty of skills you could potentially learn to stand out to an employer. According to LinkedIn data, there are at least 50,000 professional skills in the world. But which ones are the most important? Well, that 50,000 figure comes from a larger report, for which LinkedIn analyzed hundreds of thousands of job postings to determine which skills companies need most in 2019. It was found that today’s employers are looking for both hard skills and soft skills. LinkedIn says that, due to the rise in AI, soft skills, in particular, are becoming increasingly important “as they are precisely the type of skills robots can’t automate.”
Soft skills are those personal attributes that enable someone to interact and work effectively with other people. They include things like social skills, communication skills, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence – things that enable people to navigate their working environment, work harmoniously with peers, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills.
So, how many skills to list on your resume? LinkedIn highlights the top five soft skills companies need most in 2019.
Top 5 Soft Skills Employers Are Looking For
Creativity is the second-most in-demand skill in the world (after cloud computing), according to LinkedIn – and it applies to pretty much every job out there. LinkedIn Learning Instructor Stefan Mumaw – author of six books on the subject – defines creativity as the ability to solve problems with relevance and novelty.
Why is this important? Because no matter if you’re applying for a position as a salesperson, software engineer, or cybersecurity expert, companies today are looking for people who can think of new and better solutions to old problems – especially as process-driven jobs start to become more and more obsolete in the age of AI and automation. As Paul Petrone, Senior Editor at LinkedIn Learning puts it on LinkedIn’s Learning Blog: “Software companies don’t just want someone who can write code, they want someone who can dream up new software to fix old problems. Companies don’t want business analysts who just crunch numbers; they want analysts who can think of creative solutions based off what the numbers are telling them.”
Employers today value persuasive skills because they can impact many aspects of the workplace, resulting in increased productivity. They are needed often in combination with creativity skills because employees will often need to influence stakeholders. These stakeholders could be co-workers, project leaders, bosses, business partners, subordinates, or customers. Persuasion is essentially effective communication with all of these people. LinkedIn sums up why persuasion is an important skill to list on your resume like this: “Having a great product, a great platform or a great concept is one thing, but the key is persuading people to buy into it.”
Practically every job in the world will require that you work with others, and so it’s no surprise that collaboration ranks so highly as a skill to list on your resume. Even if you know you will only be encountering a few people while performing your daily duties at the job you’re applying for, employers still want to know that when tasked with collaborating you can do it effectively. This is especially true, LinkedIn says, as projects grow increasingly complex and global in the age of AI. Expressing that you can work with a diverse range of people, communicate effectively, and overcome conflict or disagreement to reach your team’s goals is an inspiring piece of information for potential employers. As such, when considering how many skills to list on your resume, ensure you make room for collaboration.
“An adaptable mind is an essential tool for navigating today’s ever-changing world, as yesterday’s solutions won’t solve tomorrow’s problems,” says the LinkedIn report. Employers want to know that if circumstances change within their organization or you’re asked to work on a new project that might be a little out of the ordinary, you’re not going to crumble under the pressure. Being adaptable means that you are willing to embrace change, can work without boundaries, are open to finding new and better solutions, are resilient, and – ultimately – that you will always be relevant now and in the future. A key skill to highlight when contemplating how many skills to list on your resume.
- Time Management
Having time management skills means that you are organized – and being organized means that you can prioritize specific tasks in order of importance. It also means that you are able to complete work before deadlines, while also maintaining a work-life balance – which shows that you will be a contented yet hard-working employee. Time management skills include delegation, focus, goal setting, organization and prioritization – and you can highlight them all as you consider how many skills to list on your resume, as this will show that you know precisely what effective time management really means.
What About Hard Skills?
By their very nature, hard skills usually apply to only a section of the workforce (though there are exceptions), and so the most in-demand ones won’t necessarily be relevant to all job seekers. Nonetheless, LinkedIn has identified the top 25 hard skills companies need most in 2019. As you may suspect, they mostly reflect the impact of our increasingly digital world – cloud, AI, UX design, data science, etc. If you have any, be sure to include them while you debate how many skills to list on your resume.
- Cloud Computing
- Artificial Intelligence
- Analytical Reasoning
- People Management
- UX Design
- Mobile Application Development
- Video Production
- Sales Leadership
- Audio Production
- Natural Language Processing
- Scientific Computing
- Game Development
- Social Media Marketing
- Business Analysis
- Digital Marketing
- Industrial Design
- Competitive Strategies
- Customer Service Systems
- Software Testing
- Data Science
- Computer Graphics
- Corporate Communications
According to Petrone, this year’s LinkedIn skills list reflects a change in employers’ priorities. “Interestingly, the newcomers to our list were uniquely human traits: Among soft skills, creativity and adaptability joined the list for the first time, and among hard skills, people management was a new addition,” he tells CNBC Make It. “While digital skills like cloud computing and artificial intelligence topped the list of hard skills companies need most, the emergence of these three new skills suggests that employers recognize the importance of embracing modern technologies as well as recognizing those things technology can’t do: connect with other people, engage in out-of-the-box thinking and quickly adapt to new priorities or problems.”
We still, however, haven’t answered the overarching question as to how many skills to list on your resume. Well, the answer, quite frankly, is simple enough – as many as you have. If you can include the ones that LinkedIn has highlighted as being in high demand for 2019, then all the better. The important thing is to include a dedicated skills section on your resume, and ensure that it contains the exact skills demanded in the job description and what you know of the company’s needs and work culture. Don’t sell yourself short – skills are becoming increasingly important as even big tech companies like Facebook no longer require applicants to have relevant degrees and experience. Don’t worry about how many skills to list on your resume – list them all.