What Are Job-Specific Skills?

Business people talking in quarry
Photo: Sam Edwards / Getty Images

Job-specific skills are those abilities that allow a candidate for employment to excel in a particular job. Some skills are attained by attending school or training programs. Others can be acquired through experiential learning on the job. The skills that are needed for a specific job are also known as a skill set.

When hiring, employers will usually include the skill set required to be able to perform the job in the job posting.


The applicants who most closely match the required skills will have the best chance of getting selected for a job interview.

Read below for examples of job-specific skills, tips for identifying job-specific skills, and advice on how to match your skills and experience to those required for a job.

What Are Job-Specific Skills?

Job-specific skills are the required skills and abilities that are essential for success on the job. Technical skills, also known as hard skills, are the skills that relate to a specific occupation, while soft skills are those skills (like communication and interpersonal skills) that enable employees to be successful at work.


CareerOneStop has a Skills Matcher you can use to rate your skills and review career options that would be a good fit.

Job-Specific Skills Examples

Job-specific skills vary based on the position. For example, a CPA needs to have auditing skills, teachers need lesson planning skills, architects need CAD (computer-aided design) skills, construction workers need to know how to use a variety of tools, and hair stylists must know hair coloring techniques. 

Job-Specific Skills vs. Transferable Skills

Transferable Skills

Job-specific skills can be contrasted with transferable skills like communication, organization, presentation, teamwork, planning, and time management, which are required in a broad array of jobs.

  • Transferable skills are those that you use for almost every job.
  • Employability skills are also the skills and traits necessary to succeed in every job.
  • Hybrid skills are a combination of soft and hard skills that may be required for some positions.


Certain transferable skills will be valued more highly for some occupations than others.

For example, consultants need strong presentation skills and lawyers need solid research skills. However, these transferable skills shouldn't be confused with job-specific skills since they represent general areas of ability valued in a wide cross-section of jobs.

Job-Specific Skills

In contrast, job-specific skills are skills required for a particular job. They might be completely unnecessary for other jobs but are critical for that job. For example, being able to operate a power saw is a job-specific skill for a carpenter, but not for many other jobs.

Often, job-specific skills are hard skills, which are quantifiable or easily teachable skills. Transferable skills are more often soft skills. These are more subjective skills, often related to your personality and behavior, particularly how you interact with others.

How to Identify Job-Specific Skills

When applying for a job, you want to know the job-specific skills required for the position, so that you can emphasize your related skills and abilities. You can typically find job-specific skills within the job posting.

Often there is a section of the job listing titled “Required Skills” or “Qualifications” that includes job-specific skills. Here is advice on how to decode a job posting. You can also look up similar job postings to get a sense of the required skills for the position. Finally, check out this list of job-specific skills for many different jobs.

How to Match Your Skills to a Job

Make a List of Your Skills

When applying for a job, identify the job-specific skills for the position. Make a list of these skills. Then, look at each skill and think about how you can prove you have that asset. Think about the work experience you have that has helped you develop each skill.


Use this list of employment skills listed by job for information on the skills and attributes required for many different occupations.

Add Skills to Your Resume

Include these skills in your resume. You might even have sections on your resume that list all your experiences developing a specific skill. For example, if you are applying for a job as an editor, you might have a section in your resume titled “Editing Experience.” You can also emphasize these skills on your LinkedIn profile.

Highlight Skills in Your Cover Letter

Also, emphasize the job-specific skills you have in your cover letter. Use keywords from the job listing, and provide specific examples of times you demonstrated or developed each skill.

Be Ready to Discuss Your Skills

Prepare to discuss these skills, and your experience in developing these skills, in every job interview. The closer a match youa re to the position, the better your chances of getting a job offer.

Have Examples Ready to Share

Before an interview, review your cover letter and resume, and make sure you can answer questions about times you have demonstrated each skill. For more tips on the best way to show that you're a strong match for a job, review these tips for matching your qualifications for a job description.

What to Do If You’re Missing a Skill

If you are missing a critical job-related skill, this does not mean you can’t apply for the job. One option is to begin to develop that skill right away. For example, if you need experience coding, you might take a free coding class online. You can then list that course in your resume and cover letter, and mention it in your interview.

You can also emphasize in your resume, cover letter, and interview that you are a fast learner, and provide examples of this. This could help convince the employer that you can quickly develop that missing skill set.

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. CareerOneStop. Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities. "Accessed July 20, 2021.

Related Articles