Story time: Last month I applied for a job as a manuscript editor. Or rather, I called a business and asked if they were hiring. “No,” they said, “But send us your resume and we’ll hold it until we are.”
Okay. No big deal.
About an hour later, I got called back. “Can you really read over 500 words a minute? And type 107?” “Um, yes?” They sent me a 3000-word, terribly-written draft to edit to prove it. I finished editing the entire thing in about forty minutes.
They hired me right away.
What this proved to me (and what it should prove to you) is that sometimes, the only thing you need to get hired is one special skill that stands out.
It makes sense: most of the people applying for a job probably have similar experience to you. Everyone could be equally qualified. It’s up to you to find some way to make yourself stand out.
Here’s a list of good skills to put on a resume. All of these skills, in my experience, are impressive enough to give you that advantage!
1. Coding (of Any Kind)
I’ll be honest, I tried to learn how to code and it did NOT go well. However, it is no secret that coding is a highly sought-after skill, so if the language of computers is something that you can demonstrate proficiency in, you’ll definitely set yourself apart.
Besides, if you know how to code, you may not need a resume: You can just create your own app and get rich that way (I’m assuming).
Let’s face it: being bilingual is a huge advantage in today’s intercultural business world, but everyone who graduated high school probably has some form of “Conversant/Fluent in Spanish/French” on their resume.
If you really want to set yourself apart, learning a lesser-taught language will take the language proficiency portion of your “skills” section to the next level. (Here’s a good list of languages to learn for business success.)
Personally, I’m learning Japanese. (As you guys may know from my posts, I’m a big fan of Japanese culture, so it’s a personal interest as well as a resume-booster.)
I will warn you, Japanese is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn because it requires comprehension of not one, but two entirely new alphabets. But this will only make you look better if you can master it.
A great place to start learning any language is the Duolingo app, which will give you daily reminders to practice, and which I found to be an exceptionally good source to learn Hiragana. Or, if you prefer a physical book and want to learn Japanese, check out Essential Japanese, which offers translations of common phrases in both phonetic English spelling and the actual Hiragana spelling.
3. Improvisational Acting
This might not be a skill that you can physically put on your resume, but it’s one that will definitely get you through the interview.
Taking acting classes, especially ones that focus on improvisation, is the best way to help yourself get better at speaking in front of a crowd and staying calm in uncontrollable circumstances. If you can pretend you’re a astronaut having a fight with her spouse inside a space grocery store, you can easily explain where you see yourself in five years.
Also, having to talk about business to people you haven’t met before isn’t something that ends after your interview: pretty much all jobs require communicating with someone you don’t know. In my experience, acting is the best way to gain the skills needed to sell yourself to a new person.
YouTube a great place to find quick video tutorials that will help you practice your improv skills at home, but if you want to commit the time and money to in-person lessons, just look online to find a class near you!
4. Digital Marketing
It’s no secret that everything is online these days. More and more companies are searching for people skilled in digital and social media marketing to help their companies reach a larger audience more effectively.
Educating yourself on the best practices for these types of marketing can really help you stand out in terms of your technological skills, especially since you know that literally everyone is going to have “proficient in Word” on their resume. Does that really even need to be said anymore? Isn’t it just a given?
Finally, this one isn’t necessarily something that you can put on your resume (unless you’re specifically applying for a writing or editing job), but it is definitely a skill that a lot of people could use some improvement on.
I guarantee you that if your resume and cover letter aren’t near-perfectly grammatically correct, the company you are applying for will never trust you to represent them through any type of written communication – and if you can’t be responsible for PowerPoint presentations, e-mails, or written reports, what good are you?
For some good refreshers, try doing some online exercises, or check out The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need, which offers tips relevant to pretty much any type of writing assignment you could possibly have.
What have you found to be a good way to set yourself apart in your resume? Tell us your stories in the comments!