Top Skills to List on Your Resume in 2021

The Prepped Team

May 4, 2021

7 min

Career Growth

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If you want to be successful, it’s important you make a commitment to lifelong learning. And there’s no better time to invest in your own professional development than right now.

The Corporate Finance Institute says that the benefits of a commitment to life-long learning go far beyond just adding lines to your resume. Not only does it keep you motivated but it can help you live a higher quality of life. Plus, it sets you up for a future in the gig economy, if that’s where you see yourself going.

If you want to find the best skills for resume building, we’ve collected the most sought-out niches that you can learn in your free time, and a few low-cost and free upskilling courses to get you started. 

Looking for more resume tips? Read more about the do’s and don’ts of resume writing.

1. Programming

If you have an interest in creating things from scratch, like maths, and love hanging out in the online world, programming might be one of the best skills to put on your resume. It’s not the easiest skill to learn but it’s an in-demand one.

What programming languages should I learn?

JavaScript

JavaScript allows you to build websites from absolute scratch—unlike someone who uses a platform like WordPress and a pre-built theme, with this text-based programming skill you can build a fully functional website that looks and acts however you want. 

Because JavaScript is the most popular programming language today there are many resources available to help you learn but Code Academy is a good starting point for JavaScript.

Python

If you want to go a little more general with your programming knowledge, Python is used not only in web development but also in scientific applications and data analytics. This programming language is extremely useful and can be used, in some capacity, in any industry you might enter.

Python is also the fastest-growing programming language and is in high demand for jobs, according to CodingNomads. You can start your learning journey with Code Academy, Google’s Python course or Microsoft’s Python course

2. Marketing

If you’re looking towards a career in marketing, there are a few skills that employers are looking for; these skills can bolster your resume when it comes to applying for marketing jobs. 

What skills do you need for marketing?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the art and science of improving a website’s rankings within search engines, though the primary search platform is Google. Learning how to use SEO to your advantage and grow organic traffic to your website is a combination of understanding data and getting into the heads of those searching the web.

It’s important to note that algorithms for search engines are often changing, so when you’re trying to get to know this new skill you want to focus on newer guides and materials. Moz, an SEO software company, has a great beginner’s guide to get you started. 

Google Ads

Google Ads is one of the most widely used advertising tools in the world, but it can be a little complex to master for first-time users. If you’re pursuing a career in marketing and you’re looking for job skills to list on your resume, learning about Google Ads may be valuable. 

The best way to learn about Google Ads is to go through their own certification program. They offer seven different certification programs that you can add to your own skills. You can learn how to set up search ads, shop ads and even understand how to properly measure their success. 

Facebook ads management

Knowing how to understand Facebook ads is critical if you want a future career in social media. It can be a valuable tool to add to your arsenal and a great skill to add to your resume. You’ll learn about building target audiences, designing effective imagery and increasing conversions. 

Facebook and Instagram now have an integrated ad platform, so learning how to effectively use Facebook means you’ve got skills on Instagram as well. They’ve also recently introduced the Facebook Creator Studio where you can manage content from both platforms. If you want to learn more about Facebook ads management or running a Facebook page, you can learn through their tutorials


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3. Data Science 

With the amount of data that even small companies collect and manage, data science skills are becoming increasingly important in the digital and physical business world.

What skills are needed to be a data scientist?

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool provided by Google that allows website owners or managers to conduct a deep dive into how visitors get to and act on their website.

It helps those running websites to figure out how visitors are getting to their website, what pages are the most popular and how long people spend on the site. You can add to this knowledge by learning about Google Search Console as well—this is Google’s answer to figuring out how a specific website is found via their search. The best way to learn about Google Analytics is with their Academy.

Microsoft Excel

There are a lot of jokes out there about spreadsheets, but the truth is that knowing how to use them is one of the best job skills to add to your resume. With Microsoft Excel, you can create spreadsheets, perform data analysis and create graphical displays.

Udemy has plenty of inexpensive courses to learn how to use Excel better. You can also take free university-level courses on edX, from intro to advanced levels, which could be a serious highlight on your resume. 

SQL

SQL stands for “structured query language” and it’s a programming language that helps you get, retrieve and manage specific information in a database. It’s not a general-purpose programming language like Python and is used in more specific data science jobs.

You can get started learning about SQL on CodeAcademy for free. It’s ideal to learn if your company manages large amounts of data that you need to sort through. And even small companies collect and keep large amounts of data.

4. Business Management

Understanding the management of the business you work for, even if you’re not at the management level yet can be a valuable asset. You can start working on your business management skills today.

What are business management skills that are in demand?

Salesforce

Salesforce is a customer relationship management (or CRM) software that gives different departments across the organization, including marketing, sales, customer service and commerce, a shared view of customers. It’s the number one CRM software used in business around the world.

Learning Salesforce can be a great way to show future employees that you understand the importance of customers in business. It could also potentially cut down the number of new skills you’ll have to take on while onboarding because it’s such a popular tool. 

If you want to learn the basics of Salesforce, you can do it through their beginner’s course or through this free Udemy course.

5. Design 

If you’re keen on graphics and have an eye for good design, design-related courses could be an excellent opportunity for you to upskill.

What design skills are in demand?

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is one of the most widely-used graphics editing software in the world. While most people only understand it to manipulate photos, it’s widely used by designers to create other graphics, like web page designs, as well.

Knowing how to use this software can look great on your resume, especially if you’re working in marketing or a similar position. If you’re just getting started with Photoshop, you can learn for free through  Adobe tutorials and build a design portfolio while you do so.

UI/UX

UI and UX both have to do with how users interact with a website, but though they’re used interchangeably they mean different things. UI refers to “user interface” and focuses on the aesthetic appearance of a product, whereas UX refers to “user experience” and focuses on the experience a user has from beginning to end with a product.

Both UI and UX are integral to digital products and can be a significant addition to your resume, though you usually learn UX before UI. There are plenty of free courses available online where you can learn about UI/UX. Skillshare has free beginner courses and so does Linkedin Learning.

6. Communication

Communication weaves its way into every work activity you participate in. It’s important to hone your verbal and non-verbal skills so you can strut your stuff in the workplace. 

What communication skills I should focus on?

Copywriting

If you want to up your written communication skills, copywriting is a valuable skill to hold in business. It’s the act of creating compelling copy for a variety of assets from blog posts and web pages to emails. To be a good copywriter, you need to hone your writing and research skills, and become intimately familiar with the audience you’re writing for.

There are many free copywriting resources available on various sites from blogs to YouTube, but if you want to sit down and take an actual course, you can consider the ones available for free on Skillshare.

Learn a second language

Being able to proficient use a second language can provide a leg-up when it comes to submitting an application. The level you’re able to communicate in the second language—whether you’re able to speak, read or write—will dictate how useful it is in a career, but simply being able to speak is good enough to give you an edge. 

While the ability to at least speak in any second language can be an advantage, there are a few languages that are more useful in a business context. According to Bilingua, the most useful languages in business besides English include Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic. And if you’re itching for a position with a national organization in Canada, like the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, reading and writing French can be a huge asset (and mandatory in some cases). 

If learning a second language is something you’d like to pursue, you can do it for free on Duolingo or try out Babel’s 7-day free trial.

Getting started on your professional development

You don’t have to wait until you have access to an employee learning dashboard to start focusing on your professional development, there are plenty of free resources available at your fingertips. 

When it comes to professional development, it can be challenging to balance a ton of new knowledge at the same time, so pick the most important things to your future career and get started. Once you’re confident enough in that skill, you can add it to your resume.


Having skills to add to your resume is only a small part of the equation. Sign up for Prepped and get access to free resume templates created by HR professionals, so it’s not only your skills that stand out but your overall resume!

Learn more about how Prepped can help you land the job you want.