Your Resume: Stop Including These "Skills"

I am old enough to remember when computers were a “thing” and you practically needed a Ph.D. to load and run software on them. They were new, they were exciting, but they were not easily accessible to everyone – not then.

But times are different now. I watched my kids learn complex new games and applications as soon as they were able to turn on the iPad. If you are reading this, a computer is a natural part of your life. You depend on it every day.

I think about this fact when we review resumes at Aha! and I see candidates emphasizing software on their resumes, like this: “I have experience with the MS Office Suite (Word, Project, PPT, Outlook, Excel).” It jumps out at me as a leftover from the past.

For almost every person, you should know — you no longer need to list all the software applications that you know how to use on your resume.

You may be thinking, “Why? And what am I supposed to include on my resume, if I don’t list all the things I know how to do, including the applications I am proficient with?”

Listing all of your software skills is the new version of including how many words you type per minute (which you hopefully deleted from your resume some time back.) Besides, there are more important items you should be sure to include on your resume instead.

Here is why this does not help your cause, particularly if you are applying to a tech company. Doing this:

Highlights basic skills
You want your resume to illustrate what makes you extraordinary, not what makes you an average candidate. You do not want to emphasize the easy skills that everyone masters these days (and that most employers will consider to be bare-minimum qualifications.) It does nothing to strengthen your standing, and it actually does you a disservice.

States the obvious
Any tech company assumes that candidates know how to use software or can quickly learn it. (Exception: It is a different case for technical roles, where the software or development languages require deep use and understanding.) If a particular application is necessary for a role, the hiring manager may bring it up during the interview process and you can speak to your software experience then.

Misplaces focus
Your resume should help employers clearly see your potential. But including a rundown of every software application you know is a distraction that takes the focus away from you, the person. Better to present a pared-down resume that emphasizes your accomplishments and how you made a real, lasting impact at each organization.

Wastes precious space
Space is at a premium on a resume and even on your LinkedIn profile. Listing all the software you know just adds noise and detracts from the overall picture (and forces more scrolling). Hiring managers spend just seven seconds studying each resume, so make it easier for them to quickly scan and see your accomplishments, not the tools you have used. There is no room for filler, padding, and clutter.

If you take my advice and are concerned that you now have a gaping hole in your resume, do not worry. See this as an opportunity for a resume overhaul — a do-over.

This time, instead of concentrating on all the things you know how to do, think about what you helped your teams achieve. Consider what you have accomplished in your career, and use your resume to showcase those results. When you include only what is most important, valuable, and relevant in your resume, then your work can speak for itself.

Your results-focused resume will let your accomplishments shine through and help you get that closer look from employers who would benefit from hiring you.

What other skills should you avoid listing on your resume?

About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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  1. Erik

    One thing to note is that you still see recruiters and companies listing specific product usage and knowledge requirements. I agree with the article, but in those instances it would be vital to list those in order to get through the resume filter.

  2. Brenda Greene

    You have to be careful when you make recommendations about not listing tech skills on a resume. In some cases, and in instances where you are applying to a tech company (as de Haaff points out), it does not make sense to use all that valuable space on a resume to list tech skills. If a job seeker is planning to work at a tech company, then obviously tech skills are a basic requirement. But for most jobs outside this industry, listing these skills is important. Many resumes are submitted via company websites and an ATS is searching for keywords. If a job posting lists certain tech skills, then those skills need to be on the resume too (provided you have these skills). Brian de Haaff has a valid point, but it certainly does not apply to many job seekers.

  3. David Neumann

    I would recommend putting the skills on the resume to meet the keyword search requirements, but on social media and personal websites leave it off and highlight your accomplishments. Even resumes are starting to become relics of a near past as apps become more prevalent and important for a successful job search.

  4. Mary E Shinabarger

    Brenda is right – some job postings are still asking for these specifics tech and non-tech. Of course, I am always amazed when even a non-tech person has reached 25 plus years seniority, at a director level, and still find Excel a foreign skill. Isn’t that a given to be in any position? While I feel that way, and obviously Brian does too, there are- again surprisingly-many who don’t.


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