Boost your resume with skills that are specific

Most often appearing at the top of the resume, the skills section can be a rather important tool for job seekers. So if you don’t already have one, now is a great time to make one! But either way, here methods to tighten this section by getting more specific with your proficiency.

Software skills

The inherent challenge here is the word “proficient.” It can be somewhat vague. One could have a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level of proficiency and still call oneself proficient. So that being the case, it doesn’t necessarily let readers know where you’re at with that skill.


In some cases, you can take an online assessment designed to help evaluate your skill level. Typically, these aren’t a pass/fail scenario. Rather, it provides an overall idea of where your skill level ranks. From there, you can confidently market that accordingly.

Skills that are inherently advanced

With other situations, simply listing a specific software skill lets readers know your level of proficiency. For example, you may list V-Lookups or pivot tables as a skill. Readers who know Excel will instantly realize you’re a more advanced user.

Language skills

What does it mean to be “proficient” in a language? Like the software example, one could be beginner, intermediate, or advanced and still be proficient. Then we have the descriptor of fluent or native. Additionally, there are specialized vocabularies like business, medical terminology, and any other trade that has specialized vocabulary. All of this adds additional layers.

And with languages, there is also the ability to read, write, and speak. One would conceivably be fluent with spoken but more basic or intermediate with written. For all these reasons, very generalized language skills on the resume often can’t give readers the full perspective on your level of proficiency. Getting more into the specifics of your skill level will go a long way in showing readers what you bring to the table.

There really are many other examples beyond these two, but you get the idea. Anytime you’re listing a skill on the resume that has a range of possible skill levels, it’s helpful for readers to have a little something so they get a fuller sense of your abilities.


Written by Adam Lafield, Recruiter & Marketing Specialist