The CV objective is regarded as the most important part of the CV. Get your career objective statement right with the help of our samples and guide.
In a second, you’ll see a list of the most universal skills to put on a CV. And you’ll be tempted to just copy-paste it into yours. Don’t. If you want your CV to land great interviews, your skills section has to fit the job opening like a glove AND differentiate you from the competition.
Spend 5 more minutes reading this article and you’ll learn:
- The most universal skills to put in a CV (do not stop reading here!)
- The difference between hard and soft skills.
- Why you must absolutely nail your CV skills to get hired.
- How to detect what skills employers look for and how to list them on your CV.
- What job skills to put on a CV to land an interview.
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Key Skills to Include in Your CV
Here are some important skills to include in the CV:
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Oral communication
- Customer service
- Computer skills
- Sales and marketing
That list above? Solid. But, again, it’s not about spraying random skills over your CV and hoping for the best. If you want results, show recruiters actual relevant skills. Read on to learn how to make the most of your abilities on your CV.
1. Soft Skills VS Hard Skills. What's the difference?
'Hard skills' are transferable skills that can be acquired through practise, repetition, and education. Some examples are writing, reading, and coding. Hard skills are important because they increase a person's productivity, efficiency and satisfaction in the workplace.
'Soft skills', on the other hand, are skills tied with a person's personality and are not easily transferable. Soft skills enable people to perform well in their environment. Some examples are: social skills, communication skills, and adaptability.
Soft Skills Examples:
- Time management
- Oral communication
- Written communication
- Conflict resolution
According to an iCIMS study, these are the top soft skills for fresh graduates:
- Oral communication
- Written communication
Hard Skills Examples:
- Computer skills (e.g. HTML, Java, Analytics, MS Office)
- Data analysis (e.g. data mining, data crunching, database management)
- Data entry
- Marketing (e.g. SEO, SEM, CRO, CMS)
- Project management (e.g. SCRUM, PRINCE2)
- Mobile and Web Development (e.g. iOS, Android)
- Driving licences
- Touch typing
- Writing and editing
- Machinery operation
If some of these skills can be proved by certifications make sure to create a separate section.
Most skills on the hard skills list are job-specific. However, some are also transferable. For example, knowledge of foreign languages is a good skill that may come in handy in various professional contexts. So are project management and MS Office skills.
In this day and age, a huge portion of hard skills can be labelled as technical skills. This is reflected in the findings of a recent LinkedIn survey, where the top hard skills were identified as:
- Cloud and Distributed Computing
- Statistical Analysis and Data Mining
- Middleware and Integration Software
- Web Architecture and Development Framework
- UI Design
- Software Revision Control Systems
- Data Presentation
- SEO/SEM Marketing
- Mobile Development
- Network and Information Security
Expert Hint: Do NOT put obsolete skills on your CV. dBase or Lotus Symphony will not impress anybody. They’ll only make you look like you’re a tech-dinosaur.
With the advent of hiring for attitude, some employers started paying more attention to both soft skills and personal qualities.
Top 10 Personal Qualities Employers are Looking For
- Strong work ethic
2. Why is Listing the Right Skills so Important?
Listing the right skills in your CV will:
- Get you past the ATS screening.
- Draw the recruiter’s attention for longer than 7 seconds.
- Land you the interview.
- Get you the job.
The strength of your CV depends on your professional and personal skills.
It’s not about putting any skills in the skills section of a CV.
And it’s not about listing only the top skills either (so forget mindless copy-pasting.)
It’s about tailoring your entire CV and including key skills that are relevant to the position.
3. How to Identify the *Right* Skills Employers Look for
There’s only one rule: make your CV relevant in each and every way.
First off, you need to find the right job offer—one that matches your professional interests and experience level. Once you got a relevant job offer read carefully what the ideal candidate looks like.
The ad below is for a personal banker.
- Delivers exceptional customer experience by acting with a customer first attitude
- Ability to make personal connexions, engage customers and always be courteous and professional in a team environment and proactively collaborates with others to help customers
- Exudes confidence with clients when sharing product knowledge and solutions
- Partnering with your branch team and Specialists to connect them to experts who can help with specialised financial needs
- Strong desire and ability to influence, educate and connect customers to technology
- Professional, thorough and organised with strong follow-up skills
- Excellent interpersonal communication skills
- Engage and partner with team members and other LOBs to offer most appropriate products
- Ability to learn products, services and procedures quickly and accurately; delivers solutions that make our One Chase products work together
The phrases in highlights are what the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and the recruiter will look for on your CV.
Make sure you take note, you will have to tailor your CV to include those skills.
4. Where to Add Skills to Your CV
Here is an important point: don’t limit your skills to a CV skills list. Sprinkle your entire CV with key skills and qualities relevant to the position.
1. Add your professional skills in the experience section
The next step is to blend your professional skills into your CV experience section.
Use the CV keywords you found in the job ad and include it the job description. Try to not paraphrase them too much—ATSs are smart, but not smart enough (check out our list of ATS-friendly CV templates).
Your goal is not just to get through the ATS scan, but to wow the recruiter with your achievements. That’s why you must justify your skills with numbers.
Learn this simple equation by heart:
Skills + Numbers = Achievements
Here's an example to illustrate what I mean:
- Delivered exceptional customer experience by displaying a customer first attitude. Consistently scored 90% and above in customer satisfaction surveys.
- Made personal connexions with 50+ customers to help them with specialised financial needs and partnered with the branch team to better identify cross-sale opportunities. Over 80% of referred prospects converted into clients.
- Gained expert knowledge of 20+ banking products and solutions in the first 3 months.
- Educated 50+ customers about the bank’s technological solutions, e.g. online banking apps for stock exchange tracking and trading, and VIOP transactions. 70% became regular users
2. Create a dedicated CV skills section.
Your job description is full of job-related skills and keywords. But you can still give your best skills more prominence.
If you extract the essence from the job description above, you’ll end up with the following list of skills:
- Customer service
- Problem-solving/analytical skills
- Product knowledge
These are the best skills to put on this particular CV.
Because they’re relevant to the position you’re applying for. They are your best skills. And they’re exactly what employers look for.
Revisit the job posting to make sure you didn’t miss any important skills the employer expects.
Double-check if you’re using the right skills and experience keywords.
After all, collaboration and teamwork are synonyms. But if the job posting calls this skill teamwork, stick to it.
Remember: the ATS is smart. But not too smart.
If the list of skills on your CV seems longish (more than 10 bullets), you can split it into two categories: soft skills list and hard skills list.
You’ll find more information on different types of skills for a CV in the last section.
Expert Hint: Employers start to pay more attention to candidates’ soft skills than hard skills. Mainly because soft skills cannot be easily taught. It’s part of the so-called hiring for attitude approach.
4. Include Skills in your CV Summary for extra value
At this point, your job description and skills sections are brimming with job-related skills.
It’s best to place your key skills throughout your entire CV.
How about tuning up your CV summary a bit? See this example:
Adaptable and well-organised personal banker with 10+ years of experience. Eager to take on new professional challenges at JP Morgan Chase. Thanks to excellent communication and follow-up skills diversified the client portfolio by adding 20+ high net-worth individuals. Increased the branch revenue by 30% in Q4 2018.
The skills you put on a CV can’t be random or just there.
You only have one or two pages, six seconds of the recruiter’s attention, and 250+ candidates to beat—there’s simply no room for anything accidental.
5. What if there’s no job posting? Where can you find the right skills?
You should still identify the most desirable skills. It is crucial.
The only thing that changes is where you look for those skills.
Here’s a couple of ideas:
- Take a long hard look at yourself, and come up with a master list of your professional skills.
For one thing, you’ll see what you can offer the employer. For another, it will be easier to judge if you’re a good fit for the position.
- Find job offers for the same positions from other employers.
It’s likely other employers have the same expectations about the strengths candidates put on their CVs.
- Look up other job offers from your employer of choice.
Get to know what they expect from candidates. Note all the skills they find desirable.
- Visit the company’s website.
Learn its values and culture. Watch out for keywords to describe your core qualifications, key professional and personal skills.
- Check out related LinkedIn profiles.
Look at the people who already work in the company and those who hold similar positions elsewhere. Pay attention to the job skills they list on their profiles.
- Pepper your CV with all the skills you’ve learned about.
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6. Refine your List of Skills
By now you realise only the relevant skills count. And you know how to list these skills on your CV.
But there’s more to it.
When your CV is filled with skills and qualities sought after by the employer, and your key skills section has 20+ items—
It’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
There’s one problem, though.
The task may seem impossible when every skill feels relevant.
Here’s what to do.
Assess how good you are at each of your skills and talents. A simple scale from 1 to 5, or from beginner to advanced should do.
Once you’re done—
Get rid of all the skills you only have a basic grasp of.
Have you heard of the so-called presenter’s paradox?
Listing low-ranking skills does NOT add any value to your CV.
More than that—
It takes value from it.
So if you feel like some of your technical skills or computer skills are basic, keep them to yourself.
Let your CV highlight your best professional side.
Expert Hint: “Do cover letters matter?” We’ve asked over 200 recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals, and they told us that 83% of the time a great cover letter can help you get the interview even if your CV isn’t good enough.
Double your impact with a matching CV and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter builder and make your application documents pop out.
Want to try a different look? There’s 18 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.
When listing job skills on your CV, remember:
- The skills you put on a CV are important for the ATS and recruiters alike.
- You must always tailor your CV skills to a particular job offer.
- If you’re sending a general application to a company, your skills must also be relevant.
- Your CV should only list your top skills. Leave out the ones you only have a basic grasp of.
What do you think are the best skills to put on a CV? Have you recently landed a job because of a unique set of skills? Are you an employer looking for specific skills and talents? We’d love to get to know your opinion. Give us a shout out in the comments below.