Updated: Mar 8, 2020
When I worked in a college career center, I saw almost everything there is to see on résumés. My favorite “skill” of all time, was a student who posted “Donates blood on a regular basis—up to 15 pints.” While admirable, this kind of skill is best kept off the résumé. Lines on the résumé should be interesting and should highlight a unique skill that you are proficient in, or have had training in. Here are a few common phrases that detract from the résumé because they fail to speak to skills that are marketable:
1) Proficient in Microsoft Word: Nowadays, most everybody is proficient in Microsoft Word. Word is probably the program you used to write every college paper but even so, you really should not claim expert status without some kind of training or certification under your belt.
2) Proficient in Excel: Similarly to Proficient in Word, without some sort of training or certification indicating that you know how to handle each and every function in Excel, you are wasting valuable space on the résumé, especially by listing programs that virtually everyone who has worked in an office before knows how to use.
3) PowerPoint Expert: This line is not only harmful but you are also demonstrating that your skills may be outdated. With other presentation aid programs (e.g., Prezi) that feature newer and more modern ways to present, boasting of PowerPoint may indicate that your skills aren’t as up-to-date as you’re hoping. Again, basic PowerPoint knowledge is implied.
4) Expert in Social Media Accounts: Unless you have actually run an entire marketing campaign via social media, this skill should be left off the résumé. In other words, simply owning a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account does not ensure that one knows how to successfully market and manage an entire brand.
5) Mastery of the English Language: This one seems straight forward, but I see this “skill” listed all the time. If the résumé is in English, than knowledge of the English language is implied.
Clearly, the common thread here is that you cannot claim expert status based on previous personal use of the various technological programs (or languages) listed—basic ability to use these programs is implied. That being said, if you know a programming language such as C++ or Java, go ahead and list those; advanced statistical and financial analysis programs are also fine to list, as they demonstrate skills in programs beyond the norm.