Ready for an a-ha moment? You might be surprised when you discover there is a difference between your qualifications and your skills. It may get you looking at writing your new resume with an enthusiasm you never thought possible for such a detested activity.
Why does it matter to know the difference between your qualifications and your skills? After all, a lot of job postings list more than only qualifications in their ads’ Qualifications sections, so even when you do know the difference between a skill and a qualification, will it matter when you are writing your resume? Yes, it will matter, and here’s why…
Qualifications are far more important to an employer than skills. Even though the job ad may be written in a way that throws skills into their Qualifications section, what employers and recruiters are looking for first-and-foremost are your qualifications. And that is why you must know the difference between qualifications and skills and present your qualifications up front and clearly. Your skills come later in your resume, under your Experience section. It is through your working experiences that you gained and developed your skills, so again, even though the job ad may be all over the map in the way it presents required skills and qualifications, you will stay on the straight-and-narrow when you present each in your resume.
Qualifications are like credentials—they are what they are and don’t need to be explained. If you have earned your pilot’s license, you are a qualified pilot. Skills, on the other hand, are like traits—they aren’t verified by a document that says you took training and have demonstrated competence.
Here are some ways you can determine what your skills are versus what your qualifications are.
1. Skills are learned — Qualifications are earned
- a Skill is something you develop, like attention to detail, a strong apptitude to communicate instruction or ideas, or, the ability to multi task. Skills are developed through job experience, although some might simply be your own built-in attributes, referred to as soft skills.
- a Qualification is something you have earned, like a diploma or a degree, a certificate, a license, a document of recognition, a designation, a promotion, or even a superior’s commendation. A qualification is something you pursued with focused intent.
2. Skills need to be described — Qualifications need only be presented
- Skills don’t stand on their own the way qualifications do. Merely naming a skill, like: able to multitask, does little to convince anyone of anything. Skills need to be described so the reader of your resume can see how you gained your skills and applied them in previous jobs.
- Qualifications need only be presented. When you state you are a graduate of a university program or a certificate-holder in a specific field, you don’t need to elaborate on it. Qualifications speak for themselves.
3. Skills are transferable — Qualifications are job-specific
- Skills are the abilities you have developed over the course of a job or a career that will continue to be useful and relevant in a completely different kind of job or career. For example, strong analytical skills you developed as an accountant will be just as necessary when you decide to work in a different industry, say as a computer systems analyst.
- Qualifications are the credentials you earned through academia and practical application, or, through developing high knowledge, competence, and authority in a particular field or discipline. Qualifications are not (as) transferable, i.e.: Your pilot’s license would be of little value should you apply for a position as a horse-trainer.
Knowing the difference between your skills and your qualifications will help you write better resumes and will help you determine the jobs you have a shot at and those you probably don’t. In terms of skills, you may check every box, but if you don’t have the qualifications the employer is looking for—a degree, a minimum of five years’ experience, training and competence in a particular software, etc., don’t waste your time. Skills almost always take a back seat to qualifications. Qualifications are almost always more important than skills, and knowing the difference between the two will help you narrow your employment options down to those you have a real chance at.
Alright all you job-seekers, there it is for today. Remember, since I am an expert resume-writer, I can develop a kick-ass resume and cover letter for you, so don’t stress! Believe me, hiring an expert to write such an important document can make the difference between going to interviews and staying at home. As always, I invite your comments so I can make this blog really useful and helpful to all job-seekers.