How to list skills on your CV.

Before adding skills to your CV, it’s useful to consider exactly what we mean by ‘skills.’ The Oxford Dictionary defines a skill as:

The ability to do something well; expertise.

When reviewing CVs, recruiters want to locate essential information in the shortest time. They know which skills the applicant needs to perform the role successfully. 

On this page, we’ll look at the difference between hard skills and soft skills, as well as the options for listing them on your CV. We’ll also offer some hints about how to ensure they make the right impression.

Where to include skills on your CV.

The first option is to list them in a dedicated section of your CV.  Keep the description to a maximum of 4 words, and limit yourself to the 6-8 skills most relevant to the position you’re applying for. Often, the so-called ‘hard-skills’ are prioritised. 

For example, when applying for a position as Fitness Centre Manager:

  • Virtuagym: expert user
  • Personal Trainer: Level 3
  • YARYT 500 yoga instructor
  • Customer care
  • Conflict resolution

Most CV templates incorporate a skills section for this type of list, often as a panel under, or next to, the personal details section.

The second option is to mention your skills throughout the CV, especially in the personal statement and work experience sections. Rather than a list of bullet points, they’ll appear as part of the narrative, allowing you to expand on them and provide data to back up your claims. 

The third and most effective option is to combine the first two. This way, you provide a visually-arresting snapshot of your skills in a special section, while in the main body of the CV, they are reinforced and given context.

Balancing hard and soft skills in your CV.

Hard skills.

These are the practical skills and knowledge needed to perform a role. They are usually obtained through education or experience. It’s essential to include hard skills as keywords on your CV, as ATSs (applicant tracking software) often search for them to filter out unsuitable candidates.

Some examples of hard skills include;

  • Bookkeeping.
  • Computer programming.
  • SEO marketing.
  • UX design.

Soft skills.

Soft skills are harder to quantify. More correctly referred to as ‘interpersonal skills,’ they relate to your ability to interact with others. Your soft skills indicate how your well you’ll fit in with those around you:

  • Colleagues.
  • Subordinates.
  • Your boss.
  • Customers.

They also show how well you’re aligned with the values and working culture of the company.

Some examples of soft skills include;

  • Adaptability.
  • Leadership.
  • Perseverance.
  • Team working.

Once again, refer to the job posting to identify the soft skills the employer is looking for. If these match your soft skills, ensure you add them as keywords.

Tips to help you select which skills to highlight.

1. Speak directly to the reader.

To understand what the company you’re applying to is looking for, go back to the job advert (yes, again!), and look at the language they use.

If you have the job description, what are the main requirements of the role? Look at the website, see how they describe their employees.

No matter how many skills you have and how diverse they are, focus only on those you know to be of specific interest to the employer. Resist the temptation to cram everything in.

2. Build a skill set.

Rather than listing a random selection of skills, it can help to create a skill set that relates directly to the position you’re applying for.

For example, if you’re applying for a sales position, choose a mixture of hard and soft skills that show what will make you successful in that role:

  • Product knowledge.
  • KPI software.
  • Rapport building.

Once again, the most crucial action you can take is to include a mix of the hard and soft skills from keywords in the job posting.

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