What is a Skill Set? (With Tips and Skill Set Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 1 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A skill set dictates who you are as a professional and what you can accomplish. In the work environment, it can be essential to be aware of your abilities so you can display them to your peers and managers. Learning how to recognise your employable traits can help you solidify a positive reputation in your industry and lead a successful job search. In this article, we provide three skill set examples, define the skill set and its types and discuss the steps for identifying your abilities and marketing yourself to advance your career.

Skill set examples

Here are three skill set examples that can help you showcase your expertise to employers:

Example one

The following sample illustrates a skill set for an educator:

Soft skills:

  • time management

  • critical thinking

  • organisation

Hard skills:

  • computer proficiency

  • presentation software

  • performance evaluation

Transferable skills:

  • multi-tasking

  • communication

  • reliability

Job-specific skills:

  • public speaking

  • instructional leadership

  • academic integrity

Related: 10 Common Employability Skills (With Definitions and Tips)

Example two

Below is a sample skill set for a professional who works at an advertisement agency:

Soft skills:

  • verbal and written communication

  • analytical thinking

  • attention to detail

Hard skills:

  • client management

  • website coding and maintenance

  • social media platforms

Transferable skills:

  • collaboration

  • research

  • adaptability

Job-specific skills:

  • analytic tracking tools

  • spreadsheet software

  • marketing

Example three

The skill set for an employee at a health care facility may look like this sample:

Soft skills:

  • empathy

  • leadership

  • problem-solving

Hard skills:

  • fluency in a foreign language

  • computer database management

  • patient care

Transferable skills:

  • teamwork

  • active listening

  • research

Job-specific skills:

  • diagnostic testing

  • surgical procedures

  • medication administration

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

What is a skill set?

A skill set is a collection of abilities that you practise throughout your career. It indicates your industry knowledge and tangible talents that distinguish you from other professionals. You can exemplify your skill set to fulfil the responsibilities of your role, impress peers and supervisors and build relationships with clients and customers. Throughout your job search, you can also illustrate your skill set on your resume, cover letter and portfolio to show you're qualified. It can be helpful to learn the different types of skills so you can meet an employer's expectations and identify your professional niche. The types include:

  • Hard skills: Hard, or technical, skills are aptitudes you can build from your educational background and work experience. They often refer to your ability to use particular types of equipment, including technology and heavy machinery.

  • Soft skills: Soft skills enhance your performance of hard skills and illustrate how you approach your tasks in the workplace. They typically refer to your conversational habits with your coworkers and your routines for organising your schedule.

  • Transferable skills: Your transferable skills are versatile, meaning you can use them in any role, regardless of the duties, rank and field. Although you may practise them for different reasons, they essentially have the same definition.

  • Job-specific skills: Employers may require specific abilities applicable to the position, which can be soft, hard or transferable skills. For example, if you want to work as a customer service representative, then the job-specific skills may be customer service, conflict resolution and interpersonal communication.

Read more: Everything You Need To Know About Hard Skills

How to discover your skill set

Follow these steps to discover your unique abilities as an employee:

1. Research industry standards

Conduct research about your industry and identify the common abilities of fellow professionals. You can find talents that match your own and add them to your skill set. If you're preparing to apply for a new role, then researching the standards can help you heighten your eligibility. For example, if you work in the technology field, then your research may inform you that programming languages, code inspection and operating systems are typical hard skills that employers require. Next, you can think about if you're proficient in those areas and add them to your list of aptitudes to highlight.

2. Think about your employment history

Contemplate the responsibilities you've fulfilled in previous roles. You can acknowledge successful projects, routine tasks and the instructions for your assignments. Your employment history can unveil the skills you've used to perform efficiently as an organisational member. For example, if you wrote articles for a blog, then you can note written communication, attention to detail and search engine optimisation (SEO) as items on your skill set. If your manager often assigned you to create sales pitches, then your skill set may include public speaking and market research. Your list of abilities can summarise the duties you've completed throughout your career.

3. Consider your hobbies

The activities you practise in your free time can also unearth your skill set. Even if you don't use your hobbies in the workplace, they may still indicate transferable skills that can look appealing on job applications. Consider your leisure habits and what they reveal about you as a candidate.

For instance, if you enjoy exercising outdoors three times per week, then discipline, physical stamina and time management may be aspects of your skill set. Another example includes sewing sweaters and socks, which may reveal manual dexterity, detail orientation and creativity. Look for similarities between your hobbies and the industry standards and promote ones that are most applicable to your career.

Related: 10 Effective Time Management Skills and Their Benefits

4. Review feedback you've received at work

Constructive criticism from your supervisors can allow you to determine your areas of strength. You can review specific instances when you demonstrated competence, and you can learn how your skills had a positive impact on the company. Consider rereading performance reviews and searching for abilities the supervisor highlighted. For example, if they discussed how your teammates expressed appreciation for their well-being, then you can surmise interpersonal communication and emotional intelligence are skills you possess. A second option is to ask your colleagues directly about the skills you use to contribute to the workflow. You can also learn where to improve.

5. Identify your abilities in a list

The final step is to organise your abilities into a comprehensive list. Separate the hard and soft skills to remind you of how you exhibit them in the workplace. You can also make multiple lists to coincide with the career opportunities you're seeking.

For example, if you're pursuing a promotion at work, then you can coordinate a skill set that presents your industry expertise and leadership abilities. If you desire to be a leader to a committee within a company, then distinguishing the specific qualifications can help you convince your coworkers to appoint you. Reference and add to your skill set as you achieve professional growth.

Tips for promoting your skill set

To demonstrate your credentials to prospective employers, follow these guidelines for promoting your skill set during your job search:

  • Highlight abilities from the job description: It can be important that you customise your application materials to the employer's interests, and the job description can help you realise the qualifications the company prefers for potential employees. Identify the skills the employer lists that match your own background and structure the content of your resume to note your compatibility with the position you desire.

  • Preview your skill set in your objective statement: On your resume, your objective statement is a brief paragraph that communicates why a hiring manager can consider you for the open position. Employers often read your objective first before any other section of your resume, which is why it can be helpful to indicate your job-specific skills to capture their attention and make a positive first impression.

  • Incorporate your skill set in the work experience section: The work experience section of your resume illustrates that you've performed similar job duties throughout your employment history, and you can highlight the tasks that included your skill set. For example, summarising how you've led software development projects shows your project management, collaboration and technology skills.

  • Write specific examples showing your abilities in your cover letter: A cover letter is a writing sample that can also contribute to your advancement in the hiring process, where you can include specific examples of how you've benefited former employers with your skill set. For example, if your expertise includes leadership and public speaking, then you can discuss how you've spearheaded presentations for your team, answered their questions and delegated tasks.

  • Think about special talents that differentiate you from other candidates: Besides job-specific skills, you can also describe unique talents that can make your job application and interview performance more memorable. For example, you can highlight competence that isn't required but can be useful for the position you're seeking, such as foreign language fluency in a role as a project manager.

Explore more articles