You’d better believe it. The employer wouldn’t include them if they weren’t. Required and preferred skills are essential. When reviewing the description for a job opening, be careful to note exactly what the employer lists as required and preferred. This is critical information.
You need to make sure your resume communicates very clearly that you possess all of the required skills. This means you’re capable of doing the job and performing the essential functions. An entry-level HR representative who is doing the initial screening for the opening will most likely not pass your resume on to the next person for review unless your resume clearly indicates that you possess each and every one of the required skills.
Preferred qualifications are the employer’s wish list of things they’d like to have in a new employee. They can live without them, but if you can prove you possess them, you just upped the ante for the other candidates being considered and are one step closer to positioning yourself as the ideal candidate.
It’s just one more reason why it’s so important to carefully review the position announcement and to customize your resume as you apply to different opportunities. It doesn’t have to require hours of work to make adjustments. Just switch out a few keywords and reorder the accomplishments/bullet points on your resume so the most relevant ones come first. These are small, quick changes you can make that better present you to the potential employer.