The perfect resume isn’t just a document that delivers a rote recitation of your job history, educational achievements, and basic skills. While an average resume often does little more than accomplish those basic goals, the perfect resume provides a prospective employer with a much more in-depth look at your capabilities and potential for adding value to their company. To accomplish that goal, you need to know which strengths to put on a resume to convince the hiring manager that you have the necessary tools needed to fill the company’s open position.
But what are these key strengths, how do you identify them, and – most important of all – how do you convey that information in your resume? In this post, we will explain key strengths, provide some tips to help you put those strengths on a resume, and examine thirty strengths that could help you make the right impression on prospective employers.
What are key strengths anyway?
Key strengths are traits that go beyond your educational experience or actual work history. They are those intangible characteristics that you bring to any job and that provide the foundation and fuel for your success in the working world. They encompass your knowledge and skills and help to define your true potential as an employee.
For example, you may have a natural affinity for technology that translates well in a wide variety of work settings. Or you may have a knack for communication, organization, or problem-solving. The key is to make sure that your resume accurately showcases those strengths so that the hiring manager can better understand the value you offer as an employee.
Do you know what your key strengths actually are?
Before you can detail your strengths, you first need to be able to identify them. Think about your previous jobs and those areas in which you felt most comfortable or had the greatest success. Chances are that your comfort or success can be traced directly to key strengths that made you the perfect person for those tasks. Make a list of your own strengths and weaknesses. Some common examples of strengths that could make you a better candidate for a job opening include things like communication, flexibility, and versatility.
How can you convey those strengths to an employer?
Once you’ve identified your strengths, you’ll need to document them within the body of your resume. To maximize their impact, you need to ensure that you list the strengths most relevant to the position you’re seeking. And then, you need to choose the right words to describe your strengths to your employer. Choose your words carefully, as they can and should be used not only in the resume but in your cover letter and eventual interview, too.
Examples of key strengths to put on a resume
Key Strengths could be either soft or hard skills on a resume or may simply be character traits that help to define you as an individual and an employee. Some commonly used words that people use to describe these strengths include:
1. Active listening
Active listening requires more than just hearing the words that other people say. To actively listen, you need to focus on the meaning that the other person is trying to convey to ensure that you properly understand the message. To practice this listening skill, pay close attention to what people are saying, use body language to demonstrate that you are focused on their words, provide feedback in the form of clarifying questions, and avoid any judgment of their message.
In the modern workplace, adaptability is a highly prized skill. Adaptable employees can evolve as circumstances change and meet new and unexpected challenges in a productive way. This can include everything from a willingness to adopt a flexible schedule to quickly adapting to new processes, technologies, and client needs.
3. Clear communication
Being able to communicate in a clear and concise manner is one of the most important strengths any job candidate can possess. Make sure that you properly convey this ability on your resume to ensure that employers understand how your ability to communicate can provide real value to their company.
4. Conflict resolution
Are you someone who excels at resolving personal conflicts? If so, then you likely have the type of conflict resolution skills that many companies need. This prized ability can be a tremendous asset in any work environment, helping to ensure that disagreements are quickly defused before they impact productivity.
5. Constructive criticism
Feedback can be vital for ensuring that people continue to improve their skills and performance in the workplace. Whether you’re adept at receiving and utilizing constructive criticism or experienced in providing this type of feedback, this ability can provide real benefits in the workplace.
6. Creative thinking
If you work in a creative field like design, this thinking skill is one that you simply can’t do without. It’s important to recognize, however, that this is one of those strengths that can be invaluable even in non-creative positions. For example, creative thinking may be an integral part of your problem-solving process, as it can help you brainstorm new ideas and find solutions that others fail to consider.
7. Customer service
Are you great at providing customers with the positive experience they look for in their consumer interactions? Customer service skills are important strengths to put on a resume when you’re pursuing any job that involves regular interactions with clients and other consumers.
Many people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their decision-making abilities. However, this is one of the most important skills for managers, leaders, and anyone who is tasked with making decisions on a regular basis. When it comes to strengths to put on a resume, your ability to make sound decisions certainly deserves serious consideration.
Dedication manifests itself in many ways. For example, you may be dedicated to your team or committed to seeing every project through to completion. That dedication can also extend to your superiors and the company for which you work, ensuring that you show them loyalty and give them your best effort day after day.
When you say you’ll do something, can others rely on you to keep that promise? Do your colleagues know that they count on you when they need assistance or support? If so, then your dependability trait is something that employers need to hear about in your resume or during an interview.
How focused are you on paying attention to the details of your job duties? This can be one of the most important strengths to put on a resume, especially when you’re applying for jobs that require a keen eye for detail and accuracy.
Efficiency is all about doing things the right way with no wasted time or effort. When companies can rely on their employees to work in an efficient manner, they have an easier time maximizing productivity and profit while minimizing costs.
13. Emotional intelligence
Are you in touch with your own emotions and aware of others? Then, you may have the type of emotional intelligence that many employers are looking for these days. Employees who have this type of intelligence tend to fit well within any corporate culture and can provide the emotional balance teams need to perform at their absolute best.
14. Innovative design
Another powerful strength to put on a resume relates to your design capabilities. Are you the creative type when it comes to artistic or digital design? These types of abilities are always in demand in various parts of the economy.
15. Interpersonal relations
Another of the key strengths to put on a resume is your ability to manage interpersonal interactions. These skills are critical for success in most jobs and include things like empathy, communication, active and reflective listening, and other abilities that help you to get along with others and work effectively in a team environment.
Leadership skills are some of the most important strengths to put on any resume. They include the ability to inspire others, organize teams, make great decisions, solve problems, and much, much more. Make sure that you highlight your key leadership strengths when you create your resume so that employers understand the level of value you can provide as a potential leader on their team.
17. Mentoring skills
The idea of mentoring others is an ancient concept that’s been around for as long as mankind has walked the planet. Mentors play a critical role in every area of business, handing down their knowledge, insights, and expertise to others. If your strengths include a willingness and ability to provide mentoring to colleagues and others, highlight that fact in your resume.
18. Motivational speaking
Many people feel uncomfortable when they’re tasked with public speaking. However, that ability to inspire and motivate others can pay huge dividends in many work environments. While motivational speaking is not for everyone, those who possess this key strength should make sure that employers recognize their talent.
Negotiation can be a key skill in many different types of positions, from sales jobs to marketing and leadership. This ability encompasses a wide array of skills like effective communication, active listening, and emotional intelligence – all of which are used to help you find common ground and agreement with others.
With all the changes taking place in the economy and many industries, today’s employers prize open-mindedness. If you’re someone who is eager to be exposed to new ideas and learn new ways of doing things, make sure that this flexibility is highlighted in your resume and your interview.
Employers require a certain level of organization from their employees to ensure that their operations run as efficiently as possible. As a result, they are always looking for workers who can effectively organize their workload in a way that gets things done.
Persuasion is a skill that people use to convince others to adopt their ideas or take certain actions. If you’re someone whose communication skills can be used to influence others, then you should certainly include persuasion in any list of your personal strengths.
Every job comes with its challenges, and employees always need to be able to find solutions that help them overcome those obstacles. Are you a critical thinker who can find creative ways to resolve the challenges you encounter on the job? If so, then problem-solving is one of the most important strengths to put on your resume.
24. Project management
Every project needs to be led by someone with strong project management skills. If your strength lies in organizing teams, delegating tasks, and leading the effort to achieve a common goal, then those project management skills should be showcased in your resume.
While it is important to pay attention to details, it is just as important to keep your desired results in mind. Employees who are focused on results tend to do more than just go through the motions as they fulfill their job duties. They work with those results in mind, focusing on efficiency, quality, and meeting expectations for a successful outcome.
How well do you manage your emotions, thought processes, and actions? Do you not only take responsibility for your decisions but accept accountability as well? People who have the inner strength needed to manage themselves in a professional way tend to be well-equipped for both individual responsibility and collaboration with others. Your resume should convey this strength to employers since it may help to separate you from your competition.
Are you someone who thrives in a team environment? Companies rely on teamwork at every level of business to ensure that everyone is working toward the same common goal. As a result, employers will want to see this strength reflected in your resume’s skills and achievements sections.
28. Technological proficiency
Technology has transformed many industries and will continue to do so for decades to come. As a result, proficiency with technology can be one of the most important strengths to put on a resume, whether you’re adept at computers, various types of hardware, or even point-of-sale systems.
There are only so many hours in each day, so it is vital to know how to schedule and manage your duties to fit within those time constraints. When you include examples of time management skills on your resume, you can demonstrate to employers that you can plan your day, meet deadlines, and fulfill their expectations.
Being versatile means that you’re capable of doing more than what your job description requires. It means that you accept change, learn new skills and duties, and are not one of those people who refuse to do anything outside of your assigned role.
Remember, if you list strengths on your resume and expand upon them in your cover letter, there’s a good chance that the interviewer will ask you about them during any interview. You should be able to quickly explain why you view these characteristics as strengths and how they’ve benefited previous employers.
A word about your weaknesses
While you’re preparing to list your strengths, think about your known weaknesses, too. Yes, your potential employer will focus primarily on your strengths and positive attributes – but that pesky weakness question is bound to come up when you least expect it. When you’re asked to identify your weaknesses, be sure to have an answer ready. As you prepare for that question, remember several important things:
Never announce a weakness if it’s something vital for the job for which you’re applying.
Avoid describing weaknesses as areas of failure; instead, describe them as things that you’re currently working to improve.
Be positive! Remember, your goal is to convince the hiring manager that you’re the right person for the job. That won’t happen if you linger on your shortcomings or describe yourself in terms that place you in a negative light.
Lean on your strengths to open the door to opportunity
At the end of the day, it is critical to recognize that the key strengths you put on your resume can be every bit as important for determining the outcome of your job search effort as anything you include about your prior work history and education. Employers want to know what they might be getting for their money, so play to your strengths and let them see that you’re the perfect candidate for the job!
Are you struggling to decide which strengths to put on your resume? Get your free resume review from our team of resume experts today to ensure that you have the job search tools you need to land more interviews.
Ken Chase, Freelance Writer
During Ken's two decades as a freelance writer, he has covered everything from banking and fintech to business management and the entertainment industry. His true passion, however, has always been focused on helping others achieve their career goals with timely job search and interview advice or the occasional resume consultation. When he's not working, Ken can usually be found adventuring with family and friends or playing fetch with his demanding German Shepherd. Read more resume advice from Ken on ZipJob’s blog.