Experience Vs. Skills: What Are The Major Differences?
Updated 18 March 2023
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When hiring managers review resumes and cover letters, they look for candidates with the desired professional experience and skill set. These two aspects of your profile serve two different purposes and can be an essential part of deciding your suitability for a job role. Having a clear understanding of the difference between experience vs. skills can help you format your cover letter and resume. In this article, we look at the core difference between experiences and skills, provide a template for listing them on your resume and review examples for each.
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Experience Vs. Skills: Definition
It is essential to compare experience vs. skills to know how to use them in your resume and cover letter. They are different in many ways, including:
What is experience?
Experience is the section you can add to your resume to list any professional experience that makes you eligible for a job role. You can mention experience from internships, freelance work, full-time jobs and volunteer work. In this section, you list your employer's name, position, place of employment, dates you worked and a brief description of work duties you completed. Explaining your work experience is essential because it shows your qualification and ability to perform well in the job role.
You can even mention your experience in a cover letter. Use your cover letter as an opportunity to elaborate on your experience and give examples from past job experiences. As you list your experience in a paragraph, mention significant achievements to show your efforts and skills.
Related: What Is Relevant Experience? (With Examples And Tips)
What are skills?
Skills are the abilities that allow you to excel and complete job duties in a professional setting. You can acquire these skills during training and throughout your professional career. To showcase your abilities to potential employers, discuss relevant skills in your cover letter and resume. On a resume, present your skills in a bulleted list in a separate section and explain them in depth in your cover letter. You can include both hard and soft skills.
Skills that produce quantifiable results are those that are role specific and are difficult to find. In contrast, skills that you can apply to various professional settings are soft or transferrable skills. Some examples of skills to include in your resume and cover letter can be communication, decision-making, critical thinking, problem-solving and computer skills.
Related: Soft Skills: Definitions And Examples
Experience Vs. Skills: Key Differences
Knowing the key differences between experience and skills can help you create a resume and cover letter that is effective and increases your chance of earning an interview call. Some differences between the two include:
A few types of experiences you can include on your resume are:
Internships: If you have little or no experience in the relevant field, you can include an internship experience you completed. Include experience that shows your familiarity with working in a similar environment.
Work history: If you are applying to jobs that require similar experience as you have, include your work history in reverse chronological order, starting with the latest job role. This helps a hiring manager assess your suitability for the job role.
Volunteer work: If you volunteer for any work, you can make it a part of your experience section. Mentioning your volunteering activities shows employers you are willing to improve your skills and learn more about the job responsibilities.
The skills you can include in your resume and cover letter are:
Hard skills: These are skills you learn through your education and past job experiences and they are non-transferable and role-specific skills. For instance, a writer might require editing skills, whereas a nurse requires knowledge of medical terminologies to excel in their job role.
Soft skills: Soft skills are your habits and traits that relate to how you work and interact with other people. For instance, effective communication is a key soft skill an employer looks for in candidates.
Related: Hard Skills: Definition and Examples
Resumes and cover letter purpose
The primary purpose of including your work experience in the resume and cover letter is to show employers you completed similar work in your previous job roles. You can elaborate on your work experience in the cover letter to help employers assess your abilities. In contrast, skills help hiring managers to know the qualities you possess. Even if you have little prior experience, use a combination of your hard and soft skills to show your suitability for a job position. Listing skills that helped you accomplish your job duties can capture the hiring manager's attention.
Related: Short Cover Letter Sample (With Helpful Steps And Tips)
Placement in your resume
Various factors decide where you place the skills and experience section in your resume. If you use a chronological resume format and have some prior experience, place your experience section before the skills section. It helps an employer know that you have relevant experience. If you are using a functional resume format and have little or no experience, you can start by mentioning your skills section. This helps you show employers that you have the required abilities that make you a qualified candidate for the job position.
Related: Work Experience Letter Format (With Sample)
Template For Including Your Skills And Experience
Follow these templates to include your skills and experience in your resume:
Work experience template
Start by mentioning your most recent work experience and include the employer's name, employment place, designation, dates worked and responsibilities you completed in the job role. Include only three to five relevant job duties to show employers you have the desired qualifications. Here is a sample template to use when creating your resume's experience section:
[Employer name] | [Employer location]
[Relevant experience related to the job role]
[Relevant experience related to the job role]
[Relevant experience related to the job role]
Related: Writing a Resume With No Experience
A skills section of your resume includes a bulleted list of hard and soft skills related to the job position. This section emphasises on your unique skills and abilities and helps you differentiate yourself from other candidates. You can categorise your skills into hard, soft, industry-related and technical skills categories. Here is a sample template to use when creating your resume's skills section:
Skills [Soft or hard skills 1] | [Soft or hard skills 2] | [Soft or hard skills 3]
Experience And Skills On A Resume
Here is an example of mentioning your experience and skills in a pilot resume:
Work experience First Officer
Ticejet Airways | New Delhi
Ensured comfortable and safe flight operations
Worked with flight crew members to manage safe and systematic operations of aircraft
Sustained zero accidents and incident rate on over 1000 flights, adapting to changing conditions
Performed various quality and compliance checks on fuel levels, aircraft equipment and communication tools
Completed post-flight paperwork and made necessary adjustments to navigation charts
Aircraft technology | Communication skills | Knowledge of air traffic regulations | Meteorology knowledge | Leadership skills | Adaptability | Teamwork skills
Related: How To Write Work Experience on Your CV
Experience And Skills In A Cover Letter
Here is a brief example of mentioning your experience and skills in a cover letter:
Dear hiring manager,
With my eight years of marketing experience, I am confident that I can improve the Hugs and Cares customer base through effective social media and email marketing campaigns. Using my SEO knowledge and ability to create creative campaigns, I can assure customer engagement and reach for your company.
I am passionate about modern marketing tools, such as social media platforms and email newsletter campaigns. During my previous role as a marketing specialist, I led an outreach campaign that helped me increase the product's demand in the local and international markets by 35%. I have vast experience creating landing pages that encourage a customer to take desired actions and campaigns that help in reaching a larger customer audience. My experience taught me the importance of skilled marketers in the retail sector. My diligence, creativity and passion for marketing helped me win the Best Marketing Specialist Award in 2020 and 2021.
I am attaching my resume with this cover letter, information for three references and a web address to my marketing portfolio. If you have questions related to my experience and skills, please contact me at a time of your convenience.
Related: Qualifications Vs. Skills: A Complete Guide (With Examples)
Tip For Using Experience And Skills On Your Resume And Cover Letter
Here are some helpful tips you can follow when you are writing skills on your resume and cover letter:
Align your skills to the job description. When writing your resume and cover letter, read the job description to include skills from it. Aligning your skills with the job description boosts your chances of getting shortlisted for a desirable job.
Categorise your skills section. To make your resume scannable, categorise your skills into hard and soft skills areas. This strategy helps the employer look for skills they require in a job role and decide on your candidature.
Add specific instances. When writing about a professional experience, try being specific and elaborate on particular events or instances. You can also mention the result of your marketing strategy to show employers your skills and experience.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.
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