How To Represent Skill Levels On A Resume To Get Hired

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When applying for a job, it can be important to tailor your resume towards the skills and qualifications listed in the job description. By understanding how to incorporate skill levels into your resume, you can enhance your employability. Showcasing these on your resume can also generate interest in your application and encourage an employer to closely review your unique qualifications. In this article, we define what skill levels are, review tips for including them on your resume and demonstrate how to go about displaying them on your resume.

What Are Skill Levels?

Skill levels refer to your knowledge or expertise in a particular subject. It demonstrates whether you have started learning a new skill or have spent a long time developing and mastering it. Your skills and their levels are a useful indicator of your abilities and how they match the job role. For instance, if a company requires an analyst who can prepare business reports, it might be useful to mention how proficient you are using a certain spreadsheet, presentation and data tracking applications to impress hiring managers.

Classification Of Skill Levels

There are five stages of acquiring skills and going from one level to the other takes time. You can classify the different skills levels as follows:

Novice

An individual who has minimum knowledge of a field is called a novice. A novice may require monitoring and training since their skills are typically on the elementary level. Novices can work to enhance and build upon their skills to become more advanced and proficient in these abilities.

Advanced beginner

Once you have basic experience and knowledge of certain skills, it may become easier to execute certain straightforward tasks. This is the advanced beginner stage. In the advanced beginner stage, an individual uses their own judgment and gradually becomes more curious about it, and may become willing to complete more complicated and advanced tasks.

Competent

With some background and working knowledge, an individual becomes competent in a particular field. In this stage, you can complete tasks in an error-free manner under minimum supervision. You can also handle more responsibilities and navigate complex situations.

Proficient

An individual who is proficient in a skill has a thorough understanding of the discipline. Proficiency implies you can manage complex situations and arrive at decisions by carefully analysing problems. Companies expect a proficient person to submit error-free work and also supervise others, if possible.

Expert

An expert often masters a skill or ability over a period of time. They may become more advanced in a skill after extensive training, education or experience. As an expert, you can typically handle complex situations with no supervision. An expert may also mentor other candidates in lower levels.

How Can Skill Levels Benefit Your Resume?

Since companies often receive numerous applications, recruiters can only dedicate a short amount of time to go through each candidate's skills on their resume. Having the necessary skills can help you be a favourable candidate for the job role. Including your skills and their levels shows employers why you are perfect for the job and whether you might be a good fit for the company.

Tips To Include Skill Levels On Your Resume

There are a variety of factors to consider when organising your skills section and levels of experience. The following section reviews a few tips for including these ability levels on your resume:

List your skills

When adding skills to your resume, you can include both hard and soft skills. Hard skills are abilities you can learn, gain and develop through training, education and experience. For instance, if you are applying to be a software engineer, coding may be a relevant hard skill you can include on your resume. Soft skills are the capabilities you naturally hold that you can develop further in your role. They can often be non-technical skills that reflect your character and interpersonal skills in the workplace. Soft skills include abilities like time management, critical thinking and effective communication.

Write down your skills and their levels on your resume. You can consider including them in different sections of your resume, like the professional summary or work experience sections. Try to include these in their own separate skills section as well. Review the job description closely to determine which skills are best suited for the role. Include both hard and soft skills to strike a balance in your resume.

Related: Soft Skills: Definitions And Examples

Start with skills you are proficient in

Consider placing the skills that you consider to have an expert level of experience with, before the skills in which you consider yourself proficient in, or a novice. This can help draw an employer's attention to your most valued skills before they skim through the skills you are not as experienced in.

List hard skills before soft skills

Regardless of how you want to organize your skills and their levels, you should always place the technical (hard) skills before your interpersonal (soft) skills. This is important as it allows the first items employers see to be job-related skills in order of proficiency. After you have listed the job-specific skills you have to offer, you can include the skills that are directly related to your personality and work ethic.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions And Examples

Include more proficient skills than novice skills

Try to include a balance of skills you consider yourself to be an expert or proficient in, as listing yourself as an expert in everything might not seem realistic to employers. It can be beneficial to make sure that you include more expert and proficient capabilities in the skill section of your resume than the amount of basic or beginner-level skills you include. This helps employers immediately notice and understand what you are already highly skilled in and which of your basic abilities you can develop further in the role.

Use horizontal space

Finding the best way to fill in blank spaces on your resume can be solved by simply working horizontally across the page rather than vertically. You can organise your skills and level of experience using three to five columns that are placed side by side instead of underneath on another, to help save space and maximise your skills section.

Related: Professional Resume Samples to Help You Land a Job

How To Demonstrate Skill Levels On Your Resume

Consider following these steps to incorporate these ability levels into the hard and soft skills columns listed on your resume:

1. Use colour-coding to demonstrate skill levels

A creative approach to demonstrate your levels is by using colours. Include a key to explain what each colour represents. Using colours makes your resume stand out and may attract the recruiter's attention easily. For instance, you can use green to say you are an expert in creating presentations, yellow to represent you are at an intermediate level in team management and a beginner or novice in coding.

2. Place skills under skill level categories

You can highlight your skill level by listing your skills in experience-based categories. This allows employers to identify the areas in which you are an expert, proficient or novice. Create a three-column table to distinguish expert, proficient and novice levels and enter each skill under the respective column.

3. Use graphics to display skill level

Graphics are incredibly useful to capture the reader's attention. You can use infographics and other design features to demonstrate your level of expertise for a particular skill within your resume. Using graphics also shows your creativity and helps employers visualise your skills better. For instance, you can incorporate a simple pie chart or bar graph to present your soft skills in a visually engaging manner.

Please note that none of the organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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