What are Your Resume Skills?
What is the Difference Between Resume Skills and Resume Abilities?

(Please also see the resume skills tier method for resume writing.)

Whether you are writing a chronological resume or skills resume the first step in resume writing is to understand the difference between resume skills and resume abilities. This is essential for all resume writing and many Federal Government applications even require descriptions of both. Such jobs often require the candidate to expand on their resume skills by answering prompts. Other times, however, you might want to outline the resume skills that were acquired from previous employment.

What exactly are resume skills and resume abilities? Are they different? The short answer is yes. Although resume skills and resume abilities overlap at times, they are generally used in different ways.

Resume skills involve the measurable manipulation of data, things, or people that one gains as a result of practice or training. For example, you might be prompted to describe your computer skills. A perfect response would include the computers and software programs you have operated (or the “manipulation of data”), a statement that quantifies your effectiveness (or the “measurable” aspect), and the situations in which you developed computer skills (or the experience of “practice or training”). Resume skills can often be improved over time. Also, resume skills typically involve the use of your hands, speech, or mind.

Resume abilities, on the other hand, are quite different from resume skills. A resume ability is a natural or acquired power to perform a mental or physical activity. The main difference is that resume abilities suggest a capacity to perform, whereas resume skills result from the actual performance. Resume abilities only become resume skills when observed through actions. Unlike resume skills, resume abilities are often very broad and can be applied to a variety of circumstances. Abilities may or may not be improved over time.

One example is the ability to analyze data. Although analytical thinking is partially innate, you may also improve this ability with practice. The ability to analyze data may or may not be realized through observable actions. The ability is also broad and beneficial in a range of situations.

Examples of Resume Skills:

• Typing skills
• Debating skills
• Computer programming skills
• Problem solving skills
• Management skills
• Listening skills

See the entire resume skills checklist.

Examples of Resume Abilities:

• Ability to motivate others
• Ability to lead a team
• Ability to interpret information
• Ability to multi-task
• Ability to prioritize and manage time well
• Ability to accept responsibility and to make decisions

NOTICE: There is a cross over in the definition of the differences between resume skills and abilities in the job hunting industry and by employers. For the most part, for the purpose of resume writing, determining or recognizing the difference between skills and abilities is not always vital.

What is important:

  1. Evaluating yourself and taking inventory of your skills and abilities and determining which skills and abilities you possess.
  2. Choosing your skills and abilities that are relevant to each job and employer where you send your resume.
  3. Expressing your skills and abilities with optimum impact on your resume

How can you bolster your resume with resume skills? The Resume Dictionary is designed to express your skills and abilities with power words. By following the formulas shown in the examples you can adapt your skills and abilities to fit in the examples. This will help you quantify your resume skills with specific statements.

For example, if you want to show exceptional communication skills, do not simply write, “I have often shown great communication skills at work.” This statement is dull and vague. Instead, give your resume skills some pizzazz and write that you “drafted monthly reports for meetings at the Director’s office.” This specifies the “experience or training” you gained. Statements like this will be sure to dazzle the interviewer with the outstanding resume skills you have to offer.

What is a Skills Resume?

The most common definition of a skills resume is one that lists specific skills rather than a work history. The skills resume is sometimes also referred to as a functional resume.

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. Raymond Chandler

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