Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 19 May 2022 | Published 12 June 2021

Updated 19 May 2022

Published 12 June 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.

Technical skills support your ability to perform efficiently at your job. Although they may take several years to learn, continually upgrading your technical skills over the tenure of your career makes you a more employable professional. Recruiters actively look for these skills in candidates as it tells them what you could contribute to the role and whether it aligns with your career ambitions.

In this article, we discuss what technical skills are, why they are important, examples of technical skills, how to improve them and tips on sharing your technical skills in a resume.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a CV

What are technical skills?

Technical skills are specific abilities, techniques or knowledge you need to master in order to perform a task. They will define whether you are qualified for a certain role. Usually, technical skills are practical. They relate to mechanical, computing or scientific tasks. To perform your technical skills in a job, you will often need to attain a professional certification, such as a university degree or a skills workshop qualification. Depending on the level of expertise you need, technical skills may take from a few months to a few years to learn.

Unlike soft skills, not all technical skills can apply to all situations and jobs. For example, social media skills are specific to the marketing function in an organisation. Thus, the technical skills you choose to develop will largely depend on your career ambitions, personal talents and interests.

Why are technical skills important?

Technical skills are important because they directly inform your ability to carry out the responsibilities of your role. Employers will rely on this expertise to meet their organisational goals. Thus, you need to be confident in your understanding of a certain skill to successfully tackle a challenge or advise a coworker. Feeling that you can adequately perform your job will also increase your job satisfaction. It will allow you to manage your time effectively and empower you to go beyond set expectations. Investing in your technical skills will also support your growth along the corporate ladder.

A technically sound workforce gives an organisation a competitive advantage. It means that they can be more innovative, take more risks and maintain their relevance in the future. To achieve this, companies need to give opportunities for their employees to grow. Thus, it's important to identify organisations with a growth mindset during the job-seeking process.

Related: Selecting the Right CV Skills in 5 Simple Steps

Examples of technical skills

The technical skills you need to employ largely depend on the function of your role and your industry. Here are a few examples of essential technical skills that employers are looking for in the current job market:

Data analysis

Data is essential to strategic planning and overall success. Thus, data analysis is a technical skill that employer's put great emphasis on in today's society. It includes your ability to collect reliable data, analyse them for trends and draw actionable conclusions. If you intend to work in science, medicine or mathematics, you can expect recruiters to list data analysis as a key technical skill in their job descriptions. Developing this skill usually requires time and practice. In university courses, you will work closely with researchers to get first-hand experience in data collection and analysis.

Here are some examples of data analysis skills:

  • Algorithms

  • Modelling

  • Data mining

  • Database management

  • Quantitative research

  • Quantitative reports

  • Statistical analysis

Programing

Programing, also known as coding, is a highly employable technical skill in the modern digital age. Employers, especially those in the technology sector, value this skill as it shows your commitment to maintaining your relevance as a professional. However, this technical skill is not only limited to the IT industry. Writers for online magazines, for example, may also benefit from having a background in HTML. While universities offer several courses in data science, many experts in this area tend to use online courses to learn new coding skills as programming languages are always evolving.

The following are some examples of the most popular programming languages today:

  • C/C++

  • C#

  • Java

  • JavaScript

  • PHP

  • Python

  • Ruby

Project management

As you progress towards a leadership position in the workplace, you will need to develop your project management skills. While most people focus on soft skills, such as communication and organisation, it's also important to consider any practical techniques you will need to apply in the role. Project management skills help you achieve the goals of a given task. They include your ability to manage a team, improve customer satisfaction and increase profitability.

Here are a few examples of key project management skills:

  • Budget planning

  • Risk mitigation

  • Fraud prevention

  • Task management

  • Task delegation

  • Performance review

  • Quality assurance

  • Quality control

  • A/B Testing

Digital marketing

Digital devices have revolutionised the way marketers interact with their audience. It has given them more data, which they can use to form a better picture of their ideal customer. Digital marketing has also given them access to more platforms, such as social media, to advertise their products and services. This way, they can extend their reach and create targeted campaigns to build a loyal online following.

Since digital marketing tools are changing by the day, employers will expect you to keep investing in this technical skill. The following are a few examples of digital marketing skills you may want to develop:

  • Blogging

  • Photography

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)

  • Google analytics

  • Content management systems (CMS)

  • UX research

  • Graphic designing

Technical writing

Whether you are a journalist, content creator or even your average professional, technical writing is a useful skill to improve your communications and team dynamics. The way you write creates an impression about you. For example, if you compose a cover letter free of spelling, grammatical and formatting errors, a recruiter is more likely to view you as an organised and careful job candidate. Thus, working on this technical skill can help you build stronger relationships with your clients and coworkers.

Here are some examples of technical writing skills:

  • Research

  • Email

  • Documentation

  • Meeting minutes

  • Client relations

How to improve your technical skills

Review the following methods to learn how to develop your technical skills:

1. Enrol in a course

You can upgrade your technical skills through a university or vocational training institute. If you are concerned about the cost of the program, you can apply for a government grant or scholarship. Certifying your technical skills is a great step to appear more employable. It proves your level of proficiency to employees and shows them you are determined to pursue your chosen career path.

2. Register for a self-study program

If you already have a job or prefer to learn at your own pace, a self-study program is also a great option. Online courses, in particular, are more affordable and have fewer entry requirements. You can also choose between multiple training institutes with different courses and learning styles to find one that suits your needs. The courses offered online also have varying levels of expertise so that you can continue your self-development journey at any time.

3. Join an apprenticeship program

If you are a person who prefers an individualistic approach to learning, you might want to consider an apprenticeship program. It's essentially a traditional form of on-the-job training that requires you to work alongside an experienced mentor for a significant period of time. The major advantage of this training style is that you get tailored feedback about your performance on a regular basis. An apprenticeship is the most common method for training niche technical skills, such as carpentry or pottery.

4. Receive on-the-job training

On-the-job training is when you learn your duties from an experienced coworker. Usually, when you first start a job, your supervisor will pair you with another colleague so that you can become familiar with your new role. This is a great way to learn the standard operating practices of your organisation. For example, if you are in the manufacturing industry, some companies may have different safety protocols than others. On-the-job training allows you to adapt to these new procedures in a short period of time.

Tips on including your technical skills in a resume

The following are some tips to consider when listing your technical skills in a resume:

  • Create a 'technical skills' section. Underneath this section, you can use sub-categories, such as 'coding skills' and 'languages', to elaborate on any specific skills that apply to the job.

  • Share your technical qualifications. In the education section of your resume, use bullet points to state these additional qualifications. This makes you appear more credible to recruiters and it shows your commitment to personal development.

  • Use examples to describe your technical skills. When discussing your work experience in a resume, explain how your technical skills enhanced your job performance.

  • Elaborate on them in your cover letter. Use the extra space on your cover letter to share your technical skills and to attract recruiters to your candidacy.

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