shutterstock Andrey_Popov A minefield lurks right at the top of your resume, and it’s one that many job candidates ignore or misuse at their peril: the skills section. Many candidates cram this section with every process or piece of software they’ve touched over the past twenty years. They write, “Proficiency with Microsoft Word” with a straight face. They list a dozen programming languages, even if their ability to actually code in eight of them is weak at best. They cite certifications for platforms that haven’t existed since the Clinton administration. Hiring managers aren’t fans of candidates who do that sort of thing. They would greatly prefer that the skills section only list what’s relevant to the position at hand: It gives them a better view of the candidate’s true value. When judging whether a skill is “relevant enough,” it all comes down to context. If you’re a pro gamer who builds video games for a living, for example, it might boost your chances of landing a game-developer job if you list any major game tournaments in which you’ve participated (and hopefully placed well). But listing your gaming victories won’t do you much good when applying for a development job with, say, a small startup that builds email or productivity software.

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