The Resume Skills Struggle: Overcoming Bland Bullets (With Examples!)

updated on 22 February 2024

We start most of our blogs by iterating: it’s crazy that so much still comes down to a single document for landing a job - the resume. 

The job hunt will eventually modernize and we’ll be here for it. Until then, we’re going to give you the best resume advice we can.

Staring at a blank page filled with "responsibilities" and "duties" is enough to induce existential dread.

And let's not forget the skills section – the battleground where generic verbs like "collaborated" and "managed" wage war against recruiters' discerning eyes. 

But fear not!

There are simple ways to avoid being the person stuffing their resume with “managed” and other, non-impactful soft skills.

Here's the truth: your resume skills can be the difference between an interview request and a silent inbox. Statistics support this claim. A CareerBuilder survey found that 70% of recruiters screen resumes based on keywords alone, meaning the right skills showcased can be your golden ticket.

So, what are the main problem areas holding your resume skills hostage?

1. The Bland Bullet Syndrome: We've all seen them – those generic, action-verb-heavy bullets that tell us what you did, but not how you made a difference. "Managed projects" means nothing; "Led a team to deliver 20% cost savings through agile project implementation" hits harder.

2. The Buzzword Bonanza: Stuffing your resume with overused terms like "synergy" and "results-oriented" might sound impressive, but they're often meaningless cliches. Focus on specific, quantifiable achievements that showcase your unique value.

3. The Tailoring Trap: Applying the same generic skills list to every job is a recipe for disaster. Tailor your skills to each specific role, highlighting what's most relevant to the job description and company needs.

Ready to transform your skills section from yawn-worthy to wow-inducing? Buckle up, because we're diving into a treasure trove of examples across various industries and roles:

For the Tech-Savvy:

  • Instead of: "Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite"
  • Try: "Developed a Python script that automated data analysis, saving 40 work hours per week"
  • Instead of: "Strong understanding of social media marketing"
  • Try: "Grew company Instagram followers by 300% through targeted ad campaigns and UGC content"

For the Sales Superstar:

  • Instead of: "Excellent communication skills"
  • Try: "Closed 120% of sales quota by tailoring demo presentations to prospects' brand needs"
  • Instead of: "Highly motivated and results-oriented"
  • Try: "Exceeded sales target by 15% through cold email practices and net-sum negotiation"

For the Creative Catalyst:

  • Instead of: "Strong problem-solving skills"
  • Try: "Implemented a cross-platform testimonial campaign that increased brand awareness by 25%"
  • Instead of: "Excellent written and verbal communication"
  • Try: "Developed recommendation-first presentations that secured funding for two key projects"

Remember, these are just springboards. Adapt and tailor these examples to your specific role and achievements. Here are some bonus tips for editing resume skills:

  • Quantify your impact: Numbers speak louder than words. Use specific metrics to showcase the tangible results of your skills.
  • Focus on achievements, not tasks: Highlight what you accomplished, not just the responsibilities you had.
  • Keywords are key: Strategically incorporate relevant keywords from the job description throughout your skills section (use a tool like Crackerjack Resume to help)
  • Action verbs matter: Ditch the generic ones and opt for verbs that showcase initiative and impact (e.g., spearheaded, optimized, negotiated).
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread: Typos and grammatical errors scream unprofessionalism. Double-check everything before hitting submit.

By following these tips and using inspiring resume skills examples, you can transform your resume from a snooze-fest to a skills showcase that grabs attention and lands you that dream job. Remember, your skills are your superpowers – showcase them with confidence.

Common Problem Areas in Resume Writing

Lack of Relevance

Another problem area is the lack of relevance. Job seekers often include irrelevant information or skills that are not related to the job they are applying for. This can make the resume appear unfocused and may not impress the recruiter or hiring manager.

Lack of Specificity

Finally, lack of specificity is another problem area. Job seekers often use generic language or make broad claims about their skills without providing specific examples or evidence. This can make the resume appear unconvincing and may not differentiate the candidate from other applicants.

How to Turn Resume Soft Skills into Meaningful Bullets

We see it all the time. Job hunters trying to fit soft skills into their resume with much effect. Hiring managers and pundits tend to give “fluffy” requirements when it comes to jobs and company needs. However, in the world of Applicant Tracking Systems, soft skills don’t tend to get you shortlisted. Let’s look at some ways to spin some of these soft skills into more metric-driven bullets.

Communication Skills

Job seekers can showcase their communication skills by providing examples of how they have communicated effectively in the past. For example:

  • "Led weekly stand-ups, resulting in a 100% on-time project completion ."

Technical Skills

Job seekers can showcase their technical skills by providing examples of how they have used specific tools or software. For example:

  • "Used advanced functions such as VLOOKUP and PivotTables to increase daily report capacity from 10 to 50."

Leadership Skills

Job seekers can showcase their leadership skills by providing examples of how they have led teams or projects. For example:

  • "Managed a team of 10 sales representatives which exceeded quarterly sales targets by 15%."

Problem-Solving Skills

Job seekers can showcase their problem-solving skills by providing examples of how they have solved complex problems in the past. For example:

  • "Developed a new inventory management system that reduced waste by 30% and saved the company $50,000 annually."

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are important in almost every job, as they involve interacting with colleagues, clients, and customers. Job seekers can showcase their interpersonal skills by providing examples of how they have built relationships or resolved conflicts. For example:

  • "Led a cross-functional team that launched a new product line in 2 months resulting in a 10% increase in revenue."

In a Nutshell,

Today, you must have a well-crafted resume to be noticed by hiring managers and found by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Hard skills are the way to get noticed by these tools and hiring managers. Remember, be very specific in what actual business outcomes you managed and how you did this. 

Specifics get interviews.

Read more