Updated 13 July 2020
Writing a CV is no easy task. And writing one that gets the results you need is even harder.
With so much competition in today’s jobs market, it’s essential that your CV stands out from those of other applicants. To make sure of that, you should focus on your skills.
Employers give you all the info you need when they advertise vacancies stating what kind of person they are looking for and the skill set that the ideal candidate should possess. But how exactly do you go about creating a targeted, skills-based CV that emphasises the right skills for the job that you are applying for?
In this article, we’ll show you how, as well as the ten skills that employers frequently cite as the most important. Everything you need to know about creating a tailored, polished and professional skills-based CV will be covered in detail.
Each CV that you prepare should be specifically tailored for the job that you are applying for.
This may seem more difficult than it actually is. All you need to do is to adopt a strategic approach and carefully review the skills that recruiters have outlined in the job description, then tailor your CV around these.
Every section in your CV should contain information that adds value to your application. That being said, the information that you include must be relevant. Don’t be tempted to add in a skill you don’t really possess, just because it is listed in the job description.
For employers, the way in which you convey your skills is perhaps one of the most important elements of your CV. A recruiter or hiring manager will want to know what is in it for them if they recruit you.
Specifically, they will seek to answer:
You therefore need to show not only which skills you have, but also demonstrate how you have used them.
Teamwork is one of the most critical skills for you to demonstrate.
Technical skills demonstrate hard knowledge of a specific discipline and are often highly valued by employers.
Don’t be put off by the word technical. Depending on the nature of your job, you may have a number of technical skills. If, for example, you have experience of digital marketing, your technical skills may include WordPress or SEO. If you’ve done an engineering degree, your technical skills may include CAD or technical drawings.
The most common technical skills include:
Soft skills are less tangible than technical skills, and they can also be much harder to demonstrate. A mastery of soft skills often indicates good leadership and teamworking potential in a candidate.
The most common soft skills include:
Based on our research and experience, we’d say these are the ten most sought-after skills:
Remember, show don’t tell. Write something like: “Collaborated with colleagues on a complex project to organise resources and enable the delivery of a project on time and within budget.”
Every business deals with customers at some point. Depending on your role you may work in a customer-facing capacity or behind the scenes. Think about the ways that you have dealt with customers in the past. If you successfully resolved a difficult situation, include this in your CV.
Employers like to see that you can manage your time effectively. Productive and efficient staff are more valuable to the business. Demonstrate how you managed your time to deliver a project or an assignment before the deadline.
Was there an occasion where you led a team and achieved great success? Or coordinated a student project and obtained a high mark for your contribution as a leader? Make sure that you include this in your CV.
As one of the most highly rated skills in the workplace, communication is crucial. Whether it is written or verbal, you will be expected to communicate effectively with colleagues, customers and partners. If you can, select an example which shows how you used your communication skills to influence or persuade an individual or group, rather than simply saying that you possess excellent communication skills.
This is another important skill that you need to demonstrate. Think of a situation when you used logic and reasoning to reach a suitable solution, conclusion or approach.
In an environment where businesses are becoming increasingly competitive, demonstrating your ability to ‘think outside the box’ is becoming more and more important. Have you thought of a new idea, created a new way of working or managed a creative campaign?
Things change quickly in the modern workplace, from tools and technologies to systems and processes. Everything changes. Being receptive to change and being able to adapt to new situations and environments is important.
There are certain skills that are essential in certain industries. In finance and accounting, for example, the ability to create financial reports is an important skill, as are skills in forecasting, making projections and completing audits. Don’t assume that your potential employer will know that you possess these skills. If you have them, make sure they are included in your CV.
Many businesses now operate online, but there is a huge shortage of digital skills. If you can demonstrate skills such as managing WordPress, blogging or managing online communities, add them.
Now that you understand what kinds of skills are important and the difference between technical and soft skills, it’s time to look at how you can incorporate them into your CV. You can’t list every single skill that you have, so you will have to be strategic in selecting the most suitable ones for the role you are applying for.
The best way to approach this is to underline or highlight all the skills that the recruiter has specifically mentioned in the job spec. Let’s say, by way of example, that you were looking for a Marketing Manager role and you came across a job description that outlines the following duties and responsibilities:
Let’s now a little closer at the types of skills that the recruiter is looking for:
As you go through the list, you should be confident that you can demonstrate most, if not all, of the skills. If you are struggling to think of an occasion when you carried out a similar responsibility, consider how critical that skill appears. If it’s a must-have, you may not be an appropriate fit for the role.
Now it’s time to craft your CV around the skills you’ve highlighted, using strong examples either through your experience, education or training.
Make sure that you can provide evidence of each of the skills, and make them achievements-focused and quantitative. So rather than saying:
Accountable for SEO strategies
Managed an SEO strategy which delivered a 50% increase in organic traffic to a client’s website and boosted sales by 20%.
The second example not only shows that you have a technical skill; it demonstrates how you have used that skill and achieved positive results.
Another tip is to make use of LinkedIn to find out the skill set of professionals who already hold a similar job title to the opportunity you are applying for. Add any skills that you think are a good fit for your CV.
You can also include a key skills summary in your CV, making it a prominent section at the side or top. Your skills should capture the attention of the person reading your CV.
That being said, don’t just reserve your skills for a short section. They should be sprinkled throughout, including the section on your experience and voluntary work as well as the professional summary at the beginning.
To conclude, a skills-based CV is critical in today’s jobs market. To have the best chances of success you should:
Ultimately, a skills-based CV should provide recruiters with the confidence that you possess the right knowledge and experience to excel as an employee at their organisation.
If you want to read more about CVs and cover letters, take a look at these other articles: