Resume Rework: What Skills Should You List?

by Kristen Pavón

My résumé is ever-changing. I have about five or six different versions focusing on different types of jobs with varying templates. However, the one section that I can never seem to improve is my “skills” section.

I never know what is appropriate to include — what do employers expect to see in this section? I have the usual “proficient in XYS legal research engine” and my language skills… but what else goes in there? Should computer skills go on there at all? Should I only have a “language” section?

On Linkedin, you can add skills to your profile. I’ll admit, I went a bit skill-crazy. I’ve added things like strategic development, issue advocacy, counseling, nonprofit management, etc. That got me thinking —  what about on your résumé? Are these the types of skills you should add or should you just stick to computer and language skills?

According to Guerrilla Tactics For Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams, your skills section is for languages, computer skills and other licenses. However, Harvard Law School’s Office of Public Interest Advising suggests omitting computer skills altogether. I tend to agree.

What do you think? What do you include in your “skills” section?


  1. EllaElla said,

    March 17, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I don’t have a skills section. I think putting my work experience down is more important and I don’t have enough room on one page for both.

    The advice my law school gives is to never put down basic computer skills. If you have some fancy certification that’s relevant to the job, then by all means include it. If you put down that you can type and use Microsoft Office, you look silly. Even my grandfather uses Word — it’s a basic skill they will already assume you have. Use that precious space for something more relevant, like your fluency in Spanish.

  2. EllaElla said,

    March 17, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Oh and I should include Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg, etc. in the list of things the employer assumes you can use–same as every other lawyer and law student. Don’t ever put that down! (That’s Career Services’ advice, not just something I’m making up.)

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