Your guide to featuring the best skills for your CV.

Skills are a vital part of your CV. They are key to showing an employer that you are qualified to do the job, and they're also a ticket to passing through the feared applicant tracking system. However, incorporating skills into your CV is not as simple as it sounds. There are different categories of skills to understand, for instance. Plus, it's essential to select the right skills and to include them in your CV in a way that is both organic and recognisable.

Here, we break down what you need to know about CV skills and offer master lists of the skills that could land you your next role.

Hard skills and soft skills

Skill types can be broken down into two categories: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are part of the essential skill set needed to do a job successfully, and as a result, are job-specific. Sometimes called technical skills, they are quantifiable and are often learnt through formal courses and training. Hard skills are important because they prove to an HR manager that you have the abilities required to execute the job. For example, if a role calls for a proficiency with Google Analytics, that specific knowledge base is a hard skill that determines whether or not you can perform the necessary tasks of the job.

Some popular hard skills include:

STEM skills Software proficiences Analytics
Foreign languages Database management Design tools
Microsoft Office Social media platforms Data visualisation
Reporting Market research Bookkeeping

Soft skills, on the other hand, are personal attributes and qualities that affect how you do the job. They are the people skills that help us read our colleagues, manage situations and perform well in a workplace environment. Soft skills are obviously important, and in some industries, such as sales, they are essential to success. These types of proficiencies are hard to teach, but the good news is that we develop the skills every day in both domestic and professional settings.

Examples of common soft skills include:

Teamwork Problem-solving Organisation
Time management Motivation Adaptability
Critical thinking Leadership Active listening
Flexibility Persuasion Communication

Click here for more advice on hard and soft skills for your CV.

How to include skills in your CV

Just as important as possessing a strong skill set is featuring those skills on your CV. You can zoom in on both your hard and soft skills in a designated Areas of Emphasis or Core Competencies section, as well as when listing your duties and achievements throughout your employment history.

A designated skills section will communicate your abilities to the employer loud and clear. Therefore, it's important to be strategic when choosing which abilities to highlight. Use the job description to determine the specific skills that are required for the job, and give special attention to any that overlap with your own skill set.

You can also sneak mentions of skills into your employment history. This would happen not necessarily by stating the name of the skill itself, but by providing an example of when the skill was utilised. This is particularly helpful because it gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your prowess, not just state what you think you can do.

For instance, a customer service professional could showcase their communication skills with a bullet point like this:

Generated a 5-star service rating thanks to an ability to clearly relay information to customers in a friendly, confident manner.

Skills for popular fields

Every industry ‒ and even every job ‒ calls for a unique set of skills. Here is a breakdown of some of the hard and soft skills that are important in popular industries. Use these as jumping-off points for when you're building up your skills list for your CV.

IT and engineering

Proficiency in programming languages Computer networking Security
Collaboration Version control systems Front end/back end development

Sales and customer service

Product knowledge Rapport building Active listening
KPI software Conflict management and resolution Persuasive speaking

Administration

Organisation Proficiency with Excel/Google Sheets Data entry
Email management QuickBooks Attention to detail

Advertising and marketing

CRM software Written communication Data analysation
Google Analytics Creative thinking SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Finance

Accounting Cash flow management Mathematics
Client relations Financial modeling Financial analysis

Whether hard or soft, skills are the way you can show an employer that you have the ability to execute (and excel in) a job. Therefore, choosing the right skills and strategically highlighting them on your CV will be key to impressing and landing your next interview. You've developed a respectable toolbox of proficiencies throughout your career; make sure you put it to good use in your job search.

We can make sure you're including your key skills the right way. Request a free CV critique today!

This article was updated in April 2020. It was originally written by Laura Slingo.

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