When you get to the bottom of your resume, you don’t want to have to list “word processing” as your only skill. And while you could call yourself a “great communicator” and “detail oriented,” that kind of fluff won’t help you stand out from the pack. Here are nine skills that will actually help you buff up your CV for potential employers:
1. FOREIGN LANGUAGE FLUENCY
It may sound simple, but what’s the best way to get sent abroad to the company’s offices in Amsterdam or Beijing? Speak the language. And even if your business is completely local, your years-long dedication to learning Mandarin or Arabic or Finnish can only serve as a concrete example of your work ethic and curiosity about the world.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA PROWESS
Nearly every company these days has some sort of social media presence, whether it’s an airline or a snack-food producer or a self-storage company. While larger corporations have entire teams devoted to their social media presence, a small company might want to put you to work manning their accounts in addition to other job duties—so make sure you know your way around the most popular platforms for your industry.
If nothing else, remember that a less-than-slick social media presence can actively ruin your job search. A 2014 corporate survey found that more than half of employers reevaluated job candidates after seeing something they posted on social media, such as inappropriate photographs.
3. PROGRAMMING KNOW-HOW
Computer programming is one of the hottest skills on the job market right now, and the median annual salary for a programmer is more than $77,000. Even if you don’t want to write software, a working knowledge of code can give you a leg up. Aside from the logic practice it gives you, it’s useful for jobs in project management, design, and more.
4. DATA ANALYSIS
“Big Data” is the buzzword of the 21st century. While companies may love having mountains of data on their clients, market preferences, and more, someone has to go through and analyze all those numbers for the CEO. Knowing how to crunch numbers, interpret statistics, and visualize the results is a marketable skill. Time to dive back into that stats book from college.
5. PHOTO EDITING
To the uninitiated, photo-editing software can be a labyrinth of inscrutable buttons and functions. And yet every business still needs flashy, professional-looking photos with all the undesirable elements buffed out. Learn your way around one of the popular photo editors, and be the first person on hand when your boss wants his portrait on the company website to have whiter teeth.
6. PROBLEM SOLVING
Every employer wants to hire a problem solver—someone who doesn’t need their hand held on a difficult project and who can come up with new solutions to the company’s challenges. Luckily, it’s not so hard to sharpen your problem-solving skills. Just pick up the crossword or a brainteaser to get in the right frame of mind. When you’re faced with a problem, try using the “IDEAL” method: Identify the problem; Define the problem; Examine the options; Act on a plan; and Look at the consequences.
7. PUBLIC SPEAKING
Plenty of people get nervous talking in front of a group, so a gift for public speaking is a valuable career asset. Not only will it help you nail an interview, but being a confident, engaging speaker will also help you effectively pitch your ideas and projects to higher-ups once you start the job. If the idea of giving an actual speech bores or terrifies you, sign up for an improv class, which can give you some fun practice at being in the limelight (and thinking on your feet).
8. WRITING EXPERTISE
The first thing any employer sees of you is your writing, on your resume and cover letter. A job candidate who can express herself clearly will appear much more professional than one who confuses “its” and “it’s,” even if the job isn’t necessarily focused on writing. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a job that doesn’t involve writing in some capacity, even if it’s just emails to clients. There are plenty of resources online to help students brush up on their grammar and diction before tests. In your case, the test just happens to be a job application.
It may seem like a random skill to learn, but if you want to jump into a booming field, it may be time to strap on an air tank and take some diving lessons. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that commercial diving is one of the country’s fastest-growing occupations, with the sector expanding by 37 percent in the decade leading to 2024.