Tips for selling your skills to potential employers
Learn how to show off your skills to potential employers.
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
When applying for a job straight out of school or college, your CV might look a little bare because you’ve been busy getting an education. There may not have been much time for part-time jobs or work experience. However, even without work experience, you can have so much valuable life experience which is applicable in a work setting.
You may play sports with your local GAA, football or rugby team. You might play music in a band or take part in a choir. You might have done some great voluntary charity work during your time in school. All of these experiences demonstrate many skills employers would look for, including teamwork, interpersonal skills and an entrepreneurial mindset.
Applying for jobs
Whether you have work experience or not, you likely have many skills and experiences that will be valuable in a work setting.
Preparing a CV
When examining your CV, employers will look for both “soft skills” and “hard skills” in potential employees. A great CV will demonstrate both of these to the fullest.
Your “soft skills”, also known as your people skills or interpersonal skills include: communication skills, time management, teamwork, flexibility, leadership, problem solving and an ability to work under pressure. Your “hard skills” are those which are teachable and measurable, for example any previous experience you may have gained from a previous job, or from your education.
Before submitting your CV for a particular role, you should bear in mind the soft and hard skills required to fulfil the role and tailor your CV to demonstrate your abilities in these areas. If you are applying to a number of roles at one time, you should avoid sending the same CV to each employer. Instead, have a flexible CV which you can adjust to be relevant for each role. Read more about what skills to put on your CV.
For example, if you are applying to a job in a restaurant or shop where you are dealing with customers, you should aim to highlight your interpersonal and communication skills. However if you are applying for a job in IT which requires great computer skills you should aim to highlight these as much as possible.
Keep it Relevant
Explain these examples in a clear manner and show how they are applicable to the role. This demonstrates good communication skills as well as a clear understanding of the skills required to be successful. It is important to be familiar with the organisation you are applying to and how you fit with what they are looking for.
Everything should link back to the role you’re going for. While you may be very confident working on your own, it might be better to stress your great communication skills if you’re applying for a team-orientated job. Also, remember that you’ve only got a limited amount of space within those two pages, so make it count.
Once you have submitted your CV and you have been called for an interview, you will have the chance to demonstrate these skills to your prospective employer.
In order to demonstrate that you have these skills, it’s important to have an example of a time and situation where you used the skill or learned the skill. This could be anything, from explaining how you stood out in a team project or worked well under pressure. These are things that can be prepared in advance of any interview, which in turn will make you feel more confident. Find out more about what to prepare before a job interview and how to answer interview questions.
It is perfectly normal to feel nervous before an interview. However, if you have done your preparation and you feel you have the right skills for the job, make sure to demonstrate this with confidence. Remember, at the end of the day, an interview is just a conversation with another person, something we all do every day. Read more about how to approach a job interview with confidence. If you want to get a job that you don’t feel qualified for or need a new direction, take a look at our article on how to improve your skills and employability.
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