Essential Skills for Executive Resumes

Here's how to write your skills section on your resume as a senior-level or executive hire. We'll cover the skills hiring managers want to see, with real examples.

5 months ago   •   4 min read

By Resume Worded Editorial Team
Table of contents

This is part 4 of our how to write an executive and senior-level resume guide. Navigate through different parts of the guide:

•  Part 1: Overview, templates and key tips
•  Part 2: Executive resume summary
•  Part 3: Work experience and bullet points on executive resumes
•  Part 4: Skills section on executive resumes [you are here!]
•  Education, optional sections, and additional executive resume tips

On a senior level resume, your skills section should focus on high-level management and leadership skills. This might mean leaving out older or less-relevant skills — a short list of highly relevant skills is more likely to impress recruiters than a longer but less focused selection.

An easy way to find out if your executive skills section shows the right high-level management skills is to upload your resume to the tool below — it’ll do a quick scan and tell you if your resume shows enough of these high-level management skills as well as other soft skills such as leadership, problem solving, conflict resolution and communication skills.

A dedicated skills section serves two purposes:

  • Firstly, it allows recruiters to quickly skim your resume for essential skills. Think of your resume summary and skills section as the bookends of your resume — you want to begin and end by emphasizing your key skills and reinforcing to a recruiter that you have what it takes to succeed in the role.
  • Secondly — and arguably more importantly — it helps you bypass Applicant Tracking systems (ATS). ATS are automated resume scanners used by most companies, including nearly all Fortune 500 companies. ATS are programmed to scan for specific keywords, including the job title and key skills. If your resume doesn’t include those exact keywords, it will be automatically rejected, so getting your skills section right is crucial.

Before we dive in, let's check out an example:

An example of a skills section on an executive resume
An example of a skills section on an executive resume

What to title your skills section

You can learn what to title your resume's sections here.

What skills to include

Your skills section should highlight transferable leadership and management skills as well as industry-specific competencies. You should have a good idea of the most important skills for your particular industry, but if in doubt, check the job description for any you may have missed. For your best chance at bypassing ATS, list skills and job titles exactly as they appear in the description.

Here are some of the top skills for director level resumes:

Leadership and management

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Process Improvement
  • Change Management
  • Operational Excellence

Managing employees

Finance

  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Budgeting
  • Management Information Systems
  • E-commerce

Technology

  • Performance Test Management
  • Business Intelligence (BI)
Keep your skills section focused and easy to skim by using subheadings for relevant core competencies

If you want to find specific skills by job title, use our skills search tool below — you can search for specific job titles, e.g. Chief Financial Officer, and you'll get specific skills to include in your skills section.

What not to include

Soft skills

Never list soft skills in the skills section of your resume. If you want to highlight transferable skills — for executives, this might include leadership, communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution — these need to go in your bullet points instead. Choose accomplishments that illustrate how you’ve used these skills in the workplace, but never list “leadership” as a stand-alone skill.

Low-level and outdated skills

Skills like inventory management and cash handling may have been essential as you worked your way up the ranks as a sales associate, but that doesn’t mean you should still be listing those skills when applying for jobs as a senior sales executive. The same goes for any skill you aren’t actively using in a senior role — to keep your skills section concise and impactful, focus on your most relevant skills and leave low-level or outdated skills off your resume entirely.

Examples of skills sections

Let's go through some examples of resume skills sections.

Example 1: Categories

SKILLS
- Leadership and Management: Strategic Planning, Business Process Improvement, Change Management, Operational Excellence, Diversity & Inclusion, Cultural Leadership
- Finance: Mergers & Acquisitions, Budgeting, Management Information Systems, E-commerce, Stakeholder Relations, Contract Negotiation

Example 2: Areas of Expertise

A simpler section, called Areas of Expertise, included at the top of your resume.

Areas of expertise on a resume
Areas of expertise on a resume

Example 3: Skills section for a mid-to-senior level resume

And here's a third example — which highlights specific technical tools you might have experience with.

Skills section on a senior level resume
Skills section on a senior level resume

Entire resume example of an executive or senior level resume

If you're unsure how a skills section would fit on an executive resume, let's look at a real example (click to expand the image):

12 changes you can make to your executive resume
12 changes you can make to your executive resume

Spread the word

Keep reading