Professional skills on your CV are what employers look for to determine immediately whether you are a candidate for the job or not. The education and experience parts are important, but they are also there to confirm that you are who you say you are relative to what you put down as professional skills.
This guide to putting professional skills on your CV will help you follow through with the professional skills you need to write an excellent CV or Resume. We also offer a series of CV templates to help you structure your CV in the perfect manner, while still tailoring it to your application.
Employers will want to know how you distinguish yourself from the others. You this want to, when talking about your skills and attributes, include anything that would add value to the job at hand and nothing more.
What is the meaning of hard and soft skills?
The first key distinction we need to make when talking about professional skills on your CV is the difference between hard and soft skills. Although you will not have to clearly demarcate this in your CV, it is best to keep them together. Making the distinction also helps us decide what skills you want on your CV and how to present these skills on your CV :
- Hard skills are skills that are quantifiable, usually achieved through training and operating machines. They can be transferable, although not as much as soft skills. Examples of hard skills include computer skills, languages, SEO writing, or operating a factory machine. You have to learn these things
- Soft skills are sometimes referred to as “people skills”, and are largely picked up through experience in the workplace. You have to learn them to work with other people, in a team and understand organisational difficulties that can emerge and deal with them. Their transferability to different contexts makes them important assets to your career portfolio.
Using both types of skills is important on your resume.
What skills should I put on my CV
Sometimes your skills can simply be presented in the part where you detail your experience in using them concretely in the workplace. This is if you want your CV to be as formal as possible. You largely focus on highlighting some skills you picked up during your experiences. You may then ask yourself how to present technical skills like coding or languages. Well you can simply mention in the experiences you have done when you used those skills. A recruiter may find it more valuable for example to simply list the amount of times you actually used the coding languages you learned in professional contexts.
In terms of hard skills, you can aim to have a seperate section according to how much you have displayed in a box, and with a gradient system to show your level of efficiency. Don’t be afraid to also mention in your cover letter which hard skills you would like to improve on whilst working for the company.
Where to put skills on my CV
If you do have a dedicated skills section, make sure it is either after your personal details or at the very end. You have two options for placing your skillset on your CV.
- Professional-orientated or education-orientated CV : Your education and experience sections should speak for most of your acquired skills. Make sure you mention these with back up being the tasks you were assigned and quantifiable achievements you were able to complete in your time in education or your previous place of employment.
- Skills-orientated CV : your skillset takes center stage and you structure your CV according to these, with education and experience taking a role of “proving” your skills.
How do you write hard skills on a CV ?
Knowing to put which hard skills on your CV is somewhat more straightforward than soft skills, as long as you understand the golden rule of CV writing : to highlight mostly relevant hard skills or skills that are transferable.
To make things clear for the CV reader you want to categorise your hard skills according to their type, whether its coding languages, languages, computer skills or other skills.
With languages, make sure you use the Common European Framework of Reference to evaluate your own language skill, that you should have received from any classes you took too. Make sure that your languages are not overplayed : in some cases you might be tested on them in the interview process.
With IT and other computer skills have a basic-intermediate-expert grading system for yourself and make sure you have any or all certificates
How do you write soft skills on a CV?
Soft skills are somewhat more complicated due to the fact that they are, for the most part increasingly overused on CVs. and in addition there is a tendency to believe humans to be rational actors that automatically expect you to have the same soft skills demanded in the job posting.
With soft skills it is doubly important to use so-called action words.
Here are some rules for creating soft skills :
- Don’t limit yourself to just adjectives. Action words can also be verbs too. Simply listing adjectives is not a good soft skill presentation. If you do use an adjective such as “excellent” then you need to be more detailed in how you excel in this skill.
- Try not to lie or oversell yourself. You have to sell yourself based on achievements, experience and education. In the case of hard skills this is much easier than soft skills. With soft skills you need to be able to hint at an experience that demonstrates your soft skill capacities that you can then build upon in either the cover letter or the interview.
- Even though your soft skills are transferable, make sure they are still relevant. Being a good salesman doesn’t need to be included if you are applying to an analyst-orientated job.
What skills do employers want?
With an ever changing, accelerating world, it is sometimes hard to know what skills are in demand in our job market. Generally speaking in a tough economy (i.e a tight labour market) then hard skills are more in demand than soft skills as companies take less risks. This is because they want someone to come in and do a job.
Soft skills are more valued when the economy is good and companies seek to find the potential in you required for a position. Soft skills tend to emphasise your ability as a manager. Often employers look for creativity as a soft skill because of how rare it is as a quality. They won’t just take your word for it though : you must demonstrate this creativity in other parts of the CV and Cover Letter.
One thing is for sure, you can always make a list of the skills you acquired separately from your CV with all the back up of how you acquired it, and then apply it accordingly. Using a CV template helps you with this as you don’t have to recreate a CV for every job but simply take advantage of the customizability of our quality templates.