Putting the right skills on your CV
What do you want your CV to say about you?
If you want to get an interview for that new job you’re after, you’re going to have to put together a pretty impressive C.V. For starters, you can read about the basics of writing a C.V. here. But if you want yours to truly stand out, you’re also going to need to identify and include the skills employers really want to see.
You should revise and edit the skills section of your C.V. for every new job you apply for. Think about what skills will be most useful for the job you’re currently after and make sure your C.V. emphasizes your abilities in those areas. Different types of work will sometimes value the same skills in a different way - don’t be afraid to change how your C.V. talks about a skill if you think it will help your chances.
There are of course a huge number of potential skills a person could have. Below are listed just a few examples that employers are always on the hunt for. Whether or not you can claim a particular skill is mostly up to you. Academic qualifications or previous work experience can be a big help in proving you can do what you say, but ultimately you can only put down a skill if you feel confident it’s something you really do bring to the table.
Some potential skills you can include are:
Verbal Communication - this is your ability to use speech to clearly express yourself. It requires confidence and an ability to explain complex ideas or instructions in an easy-to-understand way. Remember that communication is a two-way-street: you should also be able to listen to others and adapt what you’re saying to different audiences.
Written Communication - this is your ability to use writing to clearly express yourself. Your writing should be easy to read and understand and never over-complicate things. A person with strong written communication skills doesn’t make spelling mistakes and should know how to properly format a page, letter or email.
Teamwork - this is your ability to work well in a group. This is a very important skill for most jobs, and requires you to be able to get on well with others while performing a task. You should be able to complete your work and support others without overshadowing them or dominating the group.
Planning and Organisational Skills - these are how well you arrange to complete tasks and get them finished effectively. You don’t have to have a naturally organised mind if you’ve mastered the use of technology to keep on top of things and organise your workload. A person with these skills is aware of potential setbacks in any task and prepared to sort them out if they arise.
Time Management - this is an essential skill in almost every workplace. There are very few employers who’ll look kindly on lateness or missing meetings, so make sure you are consistently punctual. Having good time management skills means anticipating potential delays and factoring them into your plans as much as possible.
Adaptability and Flexibility - these are the skills that allow people to change their plans and actions to fit new situations. You’ll need to know what’s really important and be able to move other things around to prioritise it. You should also know when to alter your ideas once they’re no longer useful or practical.
Commercial Awareness or Business Acumen - this is the skillset that lets you understand the realities of the business world. You should know how the industry in which you hope to work operates and the role of the individual company within that. You should also know enough about the industry’s past to reasonably speculate about its future.
Drive - this is the skill of getting things done. Driven people are determined to complete their tasks effectively and efficiently. You should be interested not just in making things happen but improving how they’re done in the future.
Initiative/Motivation - this is the ability to act under your own direction, to work independently and think outside the box. People with initiative are problem-solvers who can work out opportunities and propose their own solutions. They don’t need someone to tell them things need to be done.
Analysing and Investigating Skills - this is how you say you’re a problem solver. You should be able to carry out research, pull together facts and information and come to evidence-based conclusions. Your work should be thorough and consider different sources of information before reaching a point of view.
Negotiation and Persuasion - this is the skill of being able to put forward a strong case for your point of view, find common ground and build a workable compromise with the ideas of others. You should be able to discuss important issues calmly and keep your eye on the bigger picture when sifting through details.
Leadership - this is so much more than the ability to get people to do what you say. A real leader can take on board constructive feedback and criticism, keep group morale high and delegate responsibility as needed.
Ability to Work under Pressure - this is one that explains itself. Whether it’s hitting a close deadline or getting something exactly right, people with this skill are able to stay calm and focused in tense and difficult situations. You should be able to deliver quality attention-to-detail at all times and regardless of distractions.
Confidence - this means being clear and assured in yourself and your ideas. A confident person doesn’t need to be loud or domineering, just able to stand up for themselves and what they represent. You shouldn’t be afraid to speak up when you’ve noticed a potential problem and should be able and willing to defend your point of view.