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What are technical skills?

Whether you’re new to the job market or you’re transitioning to a new career, you want to showcase all the skills that make you the right candidate for the role. Let’s take a closer look at what technical skills are and how to showcase them on your resume and during your interviews.

What are technical skills?

Technical skills are a type of hard skill. Hard skills are relatively easy to quantify and describe. For example, you either know JavaScript, or you don’t. You may be a beginner or have fairly advanced skills, but it’s something you can easily describe and quantify.

The opposite of hard skills is soft skills, and these aren’t as easy to quantify. For example, problem-solving is a soft skill. And while you can use examples from your previous jobs and education to show you’re a good problem-solver, it’s not as easy to quantify this skill.

When it comes time to apply for a new role, you want to use examples to show both your soft and hard technical skills. Hiring managers want to see both skill sets on your resume, and they’re especially looking at your ability to apply your technical skills to solve real-world problems. Below we go over what technical skills to consider putting on your resume and how to highlight them, as well as how to bring attention to these skills during your interview.

Showcasing technical skills on your resume

One way to show off your technical skills on your resume is with a dedicated section specifically for those skills. When you create a technical skills section on your resume, you may want to break it into groups. For example, on a developer’s resume, skills might be grouped into sections for programming languages, libraries and frameworks, and APIs, just to name a few.

Depending on how extensive your skills are, you may find it’s best to include a partial list of your technical skills on your resume. Not only does this make it easier for the hiring manager to skim your resume, but you can also tailor your list to match the skills required for the specific position you’re applying for.

What technical skills should you include on your resume?

If you’re having a tough time picking out which skills to include on your resume, one shortcut is to pick ones from the job posting. It typically lists both required skills and desired skills for the position. And if you have a skill listed in either of these sections, you’ll want to put it on your resume.

And, you don’t just want to put in on there — you want to match the wording from the job description exactly with the wording on your resume, or as closely as possible. This shows the hiring manager that you 1) read the job description, 2) are a good match for the position, and 3) took the time to tailor your resume to the job instead of just submitting a nonspecific resume.

It’s also important to keep in mind that resumes are often scanned for keywords — keywords that are found directly on the job posting. This makes it even more important to include those keywords on your resume because if you don’t, it may not make it to the hiring manager in the first place.

Examples of technical skills

Here are some examples of technical skills to include on your resume:

  • Programming languages: Python, JavaScript, Java, SQL, Bash/Shell, Ruby, C++, HTML
  • Web development: Debugging, implementation, Git, Photoshop, Illustrator, WordPress
  • Cloud-based services: AWS, Azure, virtualization, VMware
  • Cybersecurity: Cryptography, SIEM tools, automation, malware analysis, data analytics

Showcasing technical skills during your interview

Your resume exists to get you to the next step in the hiring process — the interview. You’ll have multiple opportunities to show your technical skills throughout the interview process. Interviewing for a technical position is complex, and it might include phone screenings, take-home or in-person assignments, a traditional interview, and a technical interview.  Here are some ways to highlight your skills at each step of the way.

Technical interviews

As the name indicates, technical interviews are designed to assess your technical skills. This type of interview may start with questions that dig into those skills, such as:

  • What’s the most difficult technical challenge you’ve encountered? How did you resolve it?
  • What technology could you not live without?
  • What’s a new technology you recently worked with, and how did you learn it?

The interviewer may also ask questions about your background to confirm the information on your resume. For example, they might ask what programming languages you know or what databases you’ve worked with. This is a great time to dive a little deeper into the specifics — don’t be afraid to show off your knowledge of a specific language or database.

But the primary part of the technical interview is to solve one or more technical problems. In some cases, you may need to code in real-time, which could involve a problem where you’re debugging or adding a feature to existing code, building a small project, or something else entirely.

In a case like this, it’s easy to show off your skills, since you’ll be coding or debugging right in front of the interviewer. But, remember you can always show off coding best practices, like including helpful comments.

While the technical interview is designed to show off your technical skills, your interviewer will also be interested in your approach to solving problems. Feel free to ask questions to clarify the problem and talk through various approaches out loud.

“Don’t worry about saying things that seem obvious or unimportant,” says Ian, one of our curriculum developers for Pass the Technical Interview with JavaScript. “It could be that you missed an edge case, and talking through the problem out loud will help you catch it!”

Speaking of technical interview prep, we also have these courses to help you ace your technical interviews:

Each of these courses walks you through interview questions and helps you develop the advanced skills you need to ace your technical interviews.

You’ll find these and other courses you can use to brush up on your skills or add to your toolbox in our course catalog. Also, check out our forums for helpful discussions on interview prep from our community, as well as tips and recommendations for your resume.

Get more practice, more projects, and more guidance.

What are technical skills?
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