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​How to Highlight Skills on Your CV

11th November 2016

The primary purpose of a CV is to highlight your skills. Your educational background may be impressive, and your hobbies fascinating, but in the end, it’s all about proving you can be successful in the job.

Most people write a CV in the same way; contact details, list of qualifications, list of previous employers, ‘References Available on Request’. All of that information is important but it shouldn’t be the blueprint to be fleshed out. Instead, those expected elements provide an excuse for you to fulfil your CV’s first purpose - getting you noticed. To do that, you should start with the factors that will set you apart from the competition.

Highlight Your Soft Skills

While you might think that employers are more interested in ‘hard skills’, such as programming or accountancy, ‘soft skills’ like communication or teamwork are just as, if not more, important. Our Q3 2015 Employment Monitor found that 96% of employers would choose attitude over technical ability, which suggests that it’s not what you know, it’s who you are that matters most. ‘Soft skills’ play a crucial role in the impression you make and the way you work, so don’t underestimate their importance on your CV. 
These skills can’t be quantified in the same way as ‘hard skills’ but they can be demonstrated in examples of successful projects. You don’t have to say ‘good communicator’ if you can reference the fact that you worked with, or lead, teams of people from different business functions to achieve a positive results.

Talk About Achievements

One of the most common mistakes people make in their CV is talking about their duties and responsibilities in work. That’s not what an employer is looking for on your CV. They don’t just want to know what you did, they want to know what you achieved. So rather than simply saying you were responsible for social media, tell them how much you grew the audience, or increased sales. Look at how your work helped the business to grow, that’s exactly what the employer will be thinking about when they decide who to hire.

Don’t Leave Out the Extras

If you have any qualifications or certifications at all, you should include them on your CV. It is quite common for less well-known courses to end up on the cutting room floor, as people don’t think they matter when compared to a college degree or other forms of education. But in reality, online courses, night classes, and everything in between not only show employers what skills you have, but also proves to them that you take pride in your work and always strive to improve.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of writing a ‘standard’ CV. Finding the time to write a truly persuasive CV can be difficult, especially if you’re not actively looking for a new role. However, you have to remember that your CV is a sales pitch. You have to highlight all of the value you have to offer. If you don’t, how do you expect an employer to see it through a sea of contact details, lists of previous employers, and ‘references available on request’?


See what else employers are saying 

We asked employers about their feelings on everything from Brexit to tattoos. View the full Q3 2016 Employment Monitor to see what they said. 

View Report
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About the Author

Simon Griffin

Marketing Executive

Marketing Dept.

I have worked as a writer since I began attending university, and have been working in marketing ever since I graduated. I aim to provide well-researched, fact based, original work that people will find useful and interesting. I have written hundreds of articles as both a freelancer and a marketing executive, and look forward to writing for Cpl. 

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