What skills should I put on my CV?

If you are writing a CV, there are some skills that almost all employers will look for

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If you are applying for a new job, it’s likely that you will be asked to submit a CV. On this CV, you will need to include any academic qualifications, work experience and skills that are required for the job you’re applying for. 

Skills to highlight on your CV

By reviewing your CV, an employer hopes to find out more about you and decide whether you will be a good fit for their role and work environment. Most job postings will list the kind of skills that are required for the specific role. It is a good idea to read through this before deciding what skills to include in a CV. 

If you are invited for an interview, you may be asked to describe a time when you used one or more of the skills listed. Be sure to have a real example that you are confident describing. 

Below are some examples of skills employers often look for:

Verbal Communication

Verbal communication describes your ability to use speech to clearly express yourself. It requires confidence and an ability to explain ideas or instructions in an easy-to-understand way. Remember that communication is a two-way-street. In addition to speaking, it is also important to be able to listen to others and change what you’re saying to suit different audiences. 

If you want to describe a time when you used these skills, you can mention a presentation you made in school or college, an experience at work when you communicated well with colleagues or customers, or any other time when you used your voice to communicate an idea. 

Written Communication

This is your ability to use writing to clearly express yourself. Your writing will ideally be easy to understand, free from mistakes and not too complicated. When you’re writing your CV and cover letter, it is important to keep this in mind. If written communication is an area you are confident in and the skill is required for the role, you can include some examples from school or college assignments, essays, short stories and newsletters.


Teamwork describes your ability to work well in a group while performing a task. This is a very important skill for most jobs. An employer will look to see that you can complete your work and support others without overshadowing them or dominating the group. In your application or interview, you might be asked to talk about a time when you demonstrated teamwork. This may have been as part of a group project, as part of a sports team or drama group, while in a part-time job or on work experience or in another group environment.

Planning and Organisational Skills 

Planning and organisational skills show how well you plan and get tasks finished effectively and on time. A person with these skills is aware of potential problems in any task and prepared to sort them out if they arise. If you want to describe a time when you used these skills, consider talking about how you approached a school or college assignment, exams or a project at work.

Time Management 

Time management is an essential skill in almost every workplace. Along with arriving on time, having good time management skills also 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. People who are adaptable and flexible can decide what is important and can move other things around to prioritise it. They also know when to change ideas once they’re no longer useful or practical.


This is the skill of getting things done. Driven people are determined to complete their tasks effectively and efficiently. They are interested in making things happen and also, improving how they’re done in the future.

Initiation/ 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. If you are asked to give an example of a time when you used initiative, you can describe any time that you took action on a particular task.

Analysing and Investigating Skills

If you have analytic and investigating skills, you will be able to carry out research, pull together information and come to evidence-based conclusions. Your work should be thorough and consider different sources of information.

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 compromise with others. If you have this skill, you will also be able to discuss important issues calmly and remain aware of the bigger picture.


A leader can take on board constructive feedback and criticism, keep group morale high and delegate responsibility as needed. If you need to give an example of when you showed leadership skills, think of situations where you may have taken the lead. This could be linked to a sports club, or any extracurricular activities. 

Ability to Work Under Pressure 

Whether it’s meeting a tight deadline or getting something exactly right, people with this skill are able to stay calm and focused in tense and difficult situations. If you want to describe how you use this skill, you can outline a time you may have worked under pressure and describe how you stayed calm and focused.  


Confidence means being clear and sure in yourself and your ideas. A confident person doesn’t need to be loud but they are able to stand up for themselves and what they represent. They are able to speak up about potential problems.

Revising your skills section

It is a good idea to revise and edit the skills section of your CV for every new job you apply for. Think about what skills will be most useful for the job you are interested in and make sure your CV shows your abilities in those areas. If the role you are applying for involves communication skills or teamwork, try to add in details of where you gained or used such qualities.

Different types of work will sometimes value the same skills in a different way. Don’t be afraid to change how your CV talks about a skill if you think it will help your chances. 

If the jobs you are applying for require skills that you don’t feel you have, try not to worry. Skills are something that you can develop over time. Read more about how to improve your skills and employability.

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