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Technical Skills: What They Are & Which Ones Matter Most

Plus, exactly how to feature them on your resume

Woman typing on a computer
Photo courtesy of Christina @

If you’re in the midst of a job search, you’re likely getting comfy with all the lingo, from cover letters to career objectives to portfolios to skill sets. Creating the right resume and interview pitch depends on a number of factors, including the current job market, the company you’re interviewing with, your background and goals, and much more. 

One phrase you’ve likely come in contact with: technical skills. A list of your abilities that is supposed to sum up what you’re capable of. It sounds pretty straightforward, but what you include as technical skills depends on the job you’re after and what experiences you actually have. In most cases, keep what’s relevant to the position on your resume and leave it at that.

Understanding more about what technical skills are and how to showcase them will help you start brainstorming.

Read more: Your Guide to Acing Technical Interview Questions

What are technical skills?

Technical skills are specific pieces of knowledge that give you the ability to perform tasks. Unlike soft skills, like social skills, communication, or personality traits, technical skills are hard skills that are learned, practiced, and usually measurable.

Many technical skills are related to IT, math, and science. They’re more mechanical skills that allow you to perform specific functions to complete a job function or to reach a goal.

Here are some examples of technical skills:

  • Using a programming language

  • Coding

  • Technical writing

  • Data analytics

  • Programming

  • Budget planning

  • Accounting

  • Using a specific software

  • Database management

  • Information management and security

On the other hand, these skills are considered soft skills, and not technical in nature:

  • Leadership

  • Time management

  • Integrity

  • Communication and collaboration

  • Motivation

  • Work ethic

  • Flexibility and open-mindedness

  • Dependability 

  • Organization

  • Empathy

In many office jobs, neither hard nor soft skills are more important, but a balance is required to succeed. However, some jobs put a greater emphasis on technical skills, especially if there is minimal interaction or collaboration involved in getting tasks completed. Similarly, some jobs require more soft skills and few technical skills. 

Your first step should be identifying the technical skills necessary to get the job you want. Take a look at job postings and descriptions to find out what companies are looking for. Learn about what your day-to-day responsibilities would be and focus on the skills that will help you succeed in the role.

Read more: Women in Tech: What Women Need to Break Into the Industry & Advance

5 of the most in-demand technical skills

Any given year has its own set of most-popular jobs and the technical skills that go along with them. As we’re still living in a global pandemic, the most in-demand skills have shifted based on the current work environment and shifting needs. Here are five of the technical skills most in-demand today:

1. Cloud computing

As the world moved virtual, so did systems and workflows. There has been a major transition to cloud dependence, so being skilled in cloud computing is a big plus. If you’ve used Google Drive or Dropbox for work, you’re already skilled in using cloud storage. Many jobs require this skill, whether working for a nonprofit, marketing agency, financial firm, tech company, law firm, and many more. Companies are now using cloud storage and cloud collaboration tools since they aren’t working together in the office. Those seeking cloud computing jobs may have degrees in engineering, computer science, or similar.

2. Data science

It’s no secret that data is taking over. Companies are now investing in big data more than ever to have dedicated staff members working on data best practices to run more efficient, successful businesses. Jobs in this realm include data analyst, data scientist, data architect, big data engineer, database developer, and others. These professionals often have degrees in computer science, statistics, mathematics, or similar fields.

3. Project management

One of the most marketable skills right now is project management. One study predicted that the project management workforce is expected to grow by 33 percent from 2017 to 2027. The title may sound vague, and it can encompass a range of tasks. But generally, a project manager sees a project through from beginning to end, which requires knowing how to use collaboration and scheduling software, advanced reporting, data analytics, and other hard skills. Project managers may also need to be skilled people managers.

Read more: 10 High-Income, In-Demand Skills to Get a New Job (and Better Pay)

4. Digital marketing

Just as cloud computing is a must-have for today’s remote workforce, so is digital marketing. People continue to flock online for products and services. Digital marketers can now connect consumers across their devices and platforms, from social media to mobile devices to email to virtual assistants. This area of marketing isn’t going away anytime soon.

5. Web development

Web development refers to the creation of websites and pages, integrating applications and a range of other online services, which have never been so complicated and robust. There are a few types of web developers: front-end, back-end, and full-stack developers. Some developers have engineering degrees, but many jobs don’t require it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that web developers and digital designer jobs will increase 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, twice the rate of all occupations.

Read more: What Does a Software Engineer Do?

How to showcase technical skills when job hunting

When you have your eye on a specific position, you may already know the general skills you need to have to land it. But, every company may be different, so always pay close attention to the role you’re applying for and any additional skills you need to have to succeed. 

Adapt your resume to focus on the skills most important for the job. For example, if you’re applying for a cloud computing engineer position, emphasize your educational background and your experience with cloud IT security. Don’t dwell on technical skills that aren’t relevant to the job at hand, like your accounting experience, for example.

Pay close attention to any specific platforms, software, or systems that are mentioned in the job post. Discuss your previous experience using these specific tools and call them out by name.

Once you know which technical skills to emphasize, you can include these in a section on your resume. Try a bulleted list or a simple paragraph that sums up your skills. Here’s a general example:

Technical Skills

Proficient in MS Office, Google Workspace, project management platforms (Basecamp, Asana, Podio), database management, InDesign, and research.

Whatever way you decide to highlight your technical skills, make sure they’re always straightforward. Make it clear how your experience connects with the responsibilities of the position you’re applying for so hiring managers have that important info at first glance.

Read more: How to Decide What Skills to Put on a Resume

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