What skills to put on a CV?
What skills to put on a CV?
- · September 28 2022
- · 7 min read
Table of contents
Writing a CV is daunting, but we all need to do it at one point in our life. The thing is, no one teaches you how to write a CV, nor how or where to list hard and soft skills on a CV. In the end, a CV is a personal marketing document where you need to sell yourself by ensuring you are targeting the right jobs. This article will not only guide you on where to list your skills but also it will provide additional insight into the different types of skills required to help you land that first interview! With CVMaker, you can choose from 20+ professional CV templates that suit your personality and level of experience to create a perfect CV that aligns with your career goals.
When writing a CV, you need to make sure you understand what your career goals are. In today's job market, you must stand out against other candidates, and one way of doing this is to create an ATS-friendly CV. ATS stands for applicant tracking system which is software recruiters or hiring managers use to track applications, including parsing CVs for specific keywords such as hard or soft skills.
There seems to be some confusion about what is considered a hard or soft skill. Still, all you need to know is that hard skills refer to more technical and job-related competence required to perform a specific job. Soft skills, on the other hand, are specific qualities or traits you have acquired over time, whether through education or experience.
You may come across different naming conventions for a skills section on a CV; however, the most common ones include areas of expertise (AOE), professional (hard skills), and personal (soft skills). CVMaker experts suggest keeping it as brief as possible and referring to it either as Skills or Areas of Expertise. For more information on how to layout a CV and other CV sections, refer to our blog on how to write a good CV.
Are you unsure which skills to select for your CV? Don’t worry; our experts at CVMaker are experienced in CV writing and have provided some insight into industry-standard trends. You will need to start by carefully assessing your experience. What key skills did you gain? Are there any transferable skills you could leverage? What were your strengths? Once you have a better understanding of the types of skills you gained, then you will be able to select the best skills to showcase on your CV.
A well-written CV must be tailored to your career goals which means the same applies when it comes to skills. Always ensure they are specific and relevant to the types of jobs you are targeting. To do so will require you to conduct a lot of research about the types of skills or requirements for the job. If you still feel uncertain about your choices, consider asking your friends or colleagues about what they think your top qualities are
Your first instinct might be to add all your skills, but the purpose of adding information to your CV is that it needs to be relevant. You do not want to overwhelm the recruiter or hiring manager with all your good skills; instead, focus on what is essential. For example, if you are targeting project management roles, only include your skills related to this field.
Most commonly, people tend to include a long list of bullet points with all their acquired skills. CVMaker expertise strong advice to avoid them as it will be detrimental to your job search. By now, you have learned that skills can be classified into hard or soft skills, but where do they go? Hard skills always go into a separate section on a CV. They can be named hard skills, core competencies, or areas of expertise. On the other hand, soft skills are incorporated into the personal profile section on a CV. Find out more about CV personal profile examples and helpful tips.
There is no limit as to how many skills to list on a CV. The general rule is to include relevant information only while making sure you differentiate between hard skills and soft skills. In the personal profile, you will notice that it should be between four and six lines. There is no limit on how many soft skills to include, but rather ensure you write a strong summary that shows why you are the right person for the role. When it comes to hard skills, this is a section on its own and can be included as a bullet list. Avoid including skills you have little experience in because once you are in the interview phase, you will need to elaborate on specific examples.
Once you have listed all your key skills on a CV, you might notice down the line that a certain skill can be applied to another job. These are known as transferable skills and can be either hard or soft skills. For example, maybe you worked in customer service and built up excellent time management skills. However, suppose you decided to switch to a career in sales. In that case, it would be possible to mention such skills but again, only include them if they are a requirement. Another example would be if you are applying for an au pair role, then computer literacy may not be a key skill.
If you know a recruiter or someone in a specific field, reach out to them and ask for advice. They might be able to give you tips on what hard or soft skills are required. Alternatively, research hard or soft skills related to a specific job by utilising tools such as LinkedIn to review job postings.
In a way, these are the same. Suppose you are a technical specialist, such as a Software Developer, Data Scientist, or Systems Administrator. In that case, you might have in-depth technical knowledge. One way to address this is to create a new section on your CV and name it technical proficiencies. For example, a Software Developer can list programming as a hard skill. But within this new section, they can specify the exact programming languages and other technical skills such as libraries, tools, frameworks, operating systems, or environments. Remember that a hard skills section refers to areas of expertise or core competencies. These terms can be used interchangeably but to be sure, choose what makes the most sense to you and the job requirements.
If you add skills relevant to your career goals, you are already setting yourself up for success. It shows the recruiter or hiring manager that you tried to understand the job and that you are the perfect candidate. See additional benefits below:
Boost your chances of landing an interview by including relevant skills.
Clarify your career goals by focusing only on the necessary key skills.
If you’re a student or recent graduate, adding skills to a CV can demonstrate your motivation and willingness to learn.
Stand out from other candidates with similar qualifications as you.
Showcase drive, self-discipline, and curiosity.
Prove you’re committed to achieving outstanding results.
Show a desire to advance in your career.
Most starters or people changing careers tend to struggle to differentiate between hard and soft skills, making it difficult for recruiters to identify their relevant areas of expertise. There are a few mistakes you can easily avoid, see our tips below:
Exclude skills you have no experience in or cannot back up within an interview.
Do not list all the skills you have acquired in the past.
Avoid writing generic skills that are not specific to your career goals.
Make sure you differentiate between hard and soft skills on a CV.
Ensure to elaborate on more technical skills within a new section called technical proficiencies.
Always do a spelling and grammar check by proofreading your work.
If you’re unsure whether your skills are worth mentioning, see the below generic soft and hard skills to avoid unless specified otherwise in your job requirements. While these skills are generally better to exclude, they can still apply and be relevant to other candidates.
Examples of generic soft skills on a CV:
Strong work ethic
Examples of generic hard skills on a CV:
Computer software/IT skills
Knowledge of foreign languages (use the Languages section instead)
Below are examples of good hard skills to put on a CV. Note that some examples, such as ‘digital marketing’, ‘content writing’, and ‘healthcare’, might sound broad or vague to you.
Below you will see examples of good soft skills to put on a CV. Remember that your soft skills need to be incorporated into your personal profile section. Certain soft skills such as ‘project management' or ‘communication’ can be soft for some employers and hard for others.
Attention to detail
Once you have identified all your core competencies/hard skills, you might find yourself including them into your personal profile. It’s okay if this is the case because, in time, you will identify what type of skill it is and whether or not to include it. One way to determine your strengths is to carefully assess your work experience and ask yourself a few questions. Were you a team player? Did you communicate effectively? Did you easily adapt to a new environment? All these and more will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses.
Writing a CV is a continuous process, but you must ensure that you tailor your CV and cover letter when applying for jobs. At CVMaker, we provide the tools and resources you need to build your CV with ease. In addition, we also offer expert CV Writing Services. So if you are still not sure where to start or how to write a CV, get in touch with CVMaker, so we can help you achieve your career goals!
Additional tips on how to add skills to a CV:
Incorporate your soft skills into the personal profile section.
Keep your key skills brief and concise.
Include specific skills that are relevant to your career goals or job targets.
Use transferable skills if you have little to no experience.
Ensure your language is set to UK English. Alternatively, utilise sources such as Grammarly to review if proofreading is not your key skill.
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Updated September 28 2022
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