What Skills Can You Put on Your Graduate Resume?

Posted by GradConnection

Most resume templates will have a section dedicated to the skill set of the graduate. A common pitfall when writing resumes is to write up as many skills, whether relevant or irrelevant, as possible into the space. This article will provide advice and tips for you so that you can optimise this section of the resume to demonstrate your suitability for the graduate position or graduate program to the recruiter. 

What is the difference between hard and soft skills?

It is important for you to know the difference between hard skills and soft skills as a mix of both should typically be included on a resume. Hard skills are industry specific skills that you typically acquire from your work experience, education, or any qualifications you may have completed. These skills can be learnt. 

Examples may include:

  • Proficiency in Python
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Copywriting
  • Budgeting
  • Transcription
  • Account-based marketing

Soft skills are transferable skills that are relevant to all occupations and refer to behavioural qualities and personal characteristics. These skills are highly valued by graduate recruiters as they are difficult to develop. 

Examples may include:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Creativity
  • Leadership
  • Time Management
  • Problem-solving

How to identify your skills?

It may be difficult for you to identify your skills, especially if you are writing a resume for the first time when applying for a graduate program or graduate position. Here are some factors to consider to help you identify your skills.

Consider your education

Consider the education that you have completed or are about to complete. There are likely industry-specific skills attached that you have gained as a result of your knowledge and expertise. Think about the tasks that you have been required to complete for homework, assignments, and exams. What skills have lecturers and professors emphasised as being important in the workplace? This can give you a good idea about the types of skills your graduate recruiter is looking for as they would be necessary for you to succeed in the role and in the industry.

Consider your achievements

Perhaps you were the recipient of an academic award or you won a sporting prize. Awards and achievements require a high level of ability in the activity for which you were awarded. This ability is likely associated with a particular set of skills that you were required to hone and develop before you were able to reach the level you are at. These skills, particularly if they are soft skills, are likely transferable to the workplace and the role that you are applying for.

Ask others

It may be difficult for you to identify your skills yourself as they are actions that you are so used to that you do not think about them. It may be useful therefore to ask friends, family, teachers, or coworkers. They may have noticed some particular qualities or traits in you that are admirable or desirable for employers. 

How to pick the best skills?

To avoid mentioning irrelevant skills on your resume, it is important that you carefully consider the graduate role or program description and the selection criteria, and that you research the company. This is because your skills section should directly relate to the requirements of the role. It should not be particularly long and make mention of traits that are unrelated to the position or the company. If this is the case, the graduate recruiter is likely to think that you merely copied a list of skills you found on the internet onto your resume. The skills that you select should be thought out and deliberate. Ensure that you pick the most important skills that you possess that are also absolutely necessary and desirable for a candidate to possess to successfully fulfil the requirements of the position. You can expand on other important skills you may have later in the recruitment process like during the interview. 

For example, if you are applying for a graduate accountant position and the job description mentions that candidates should be proficient in using Microsoft Excel, make sure to include that as a skill. Similarly, if you are applying for a graduate interpreter position, ensure that the skills section of your resume lists all the languages that you have fluency in. Research into the company can also reveal more about its values and culture. If the website suggests that the company thrives on collaborative work, include teamwork as a skill on your resume. 

How to format skills on a resume?

As a graduate, you should have a section of your resume that is dedicated to skills. The skills should then be listed in dot-point format with a brief corresponding description. This is because graduates tend to lack work experience and their employment history is typically short, leaving ample space on a resume. This can be filled by the skills section and your education, qualifications and achievements. Find out more about listing education on a resume by reading our informative article here.

What are some skills to include?

Here is a list of popular soft skills that employers value. The skills that you choose to include will ultimately depend on the position that you are applying for.

Communication Skills

Communication skills means that you have the ability to give and receive information. This includes listening, speaking, and interpreting information.  This is a particularly relevant skill in an administrative or sales position as it requires active communication with colleagues and clients. 


Empathy means that you have the ability to understand, relate, and respond compassionately to others and their issues or concerns. This skill is valued in the healthcare field. 


To possess the skill of teamwork means that you are able to collaboratively work with others. This requires that you actively listen to others, respect their opinion, be able to communicate openly, and coordinate effectively so that tasks and projects are completed on time. 

Time Management Skills

Time management skills refer to your ability to manage and organise tasks, events, and obligations. It also means to be able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This skill is valued in a high pressure workplace where employees are required to constantly be on the go. 

Problem solving skills

Problem solving is the ability to understand a problem and efficiently resolve it. This requires you to have a particular eye for attention to detail, patience, and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations.

Leadership skills

Leadership skills means that you have the ability to lead and guide a team or group of people to complete a certain goal. This includes the ability to mentor and support the growth of your colleagues, and to create a positive, respectful and cooperative environment for collaboration.

Read more on how to craft the perfect graduate resume/cv here.


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