10 best skills to include on a CV
Updated 31 August 2023
The skills section of your CV shows employers you have the abilities required to succeed in the role. Often, employers pay special attention to the skills section to determine who should move on to the next step of the hiring process.
Top 10 skills for CVs
Some of the most important skills to put on CVs include:
Here are a few tips and CV skills examples to help you craft the skills section of your CV.
Hard skills vs soft skills
Employers want to hire employees who have the right mix of two different types of skills: soft skills and hard skills.
Hard skills are abilities specific to the job and/or industry. Generally, these are the more technical skills you learn in school, certification programmes, training materials or on-the-job experience. Hard skills might include proficiency in things like:
operating certain equipment or machinery
Soft skills, on the other hand, are abilities that can be applied to any job. Oftentimes, soft skills may be referred to as ‘people skills’ or ‘social skills’ and include proficiency in things like:
Hard skills are usually teachable, whereas soft skills are typically personality traits that are much harder to develop, and therefore extremely valuable to employers. In most cases, your soft skills can enhance your hard skills. For example, if you’re a detail-oriented software developer skilled in a computer programming language, you’ll likely be able to catch errors and correct issues in the code that you and your team create.
As a jobseeker, it’s important to highlight your best hard and soft skills to position yourself as a well-rounded candidate. It’s also helpful to consider how the two types of skills relate to one another and the job so you can speak to this in your next interview.
How to identify your best skills
If you’re not sure which skills you want to share, consider your previous experience. Where did you excel? In what areas would your peers say you’re especially practised? Here are a few ways to determine what good skills to put on a CV:
Consider your awards and achievements. Did you ever receive recognition for meeting a particular objective or excelling in a specific area? If so, your skills likely assisted you in reaching this achievement. Consider what personal talent or attributes helped you meet that milestone.
Ask former co-workers or fellow students. Sometimes others can help note strengths you may not recognise yourself. Contact a former manager or colleagues who worked closely with you. If you’re new to the professional world, get in touch with students you worked with, teachers who know you well or someone you consider a mentor.
Talk to professionals in the field. If you’re having a difficult time determining what skills an employer may want to see, consider contacting a professional already working in the industry or in a position similar to the one you’re applying for. Find out what skills they consider most important, and identify which ones align with your own.
When creating a list of skills for your CV, only include those you know to be your strengths. If there’s something you’re still learning, don’t feel pressured to include it because it appears in the job posting. If the employer mentions a skill you didn’t include during the interview process, you can discuss how you’re working to learn or improve for the role.
How to list skills on your CV
Review the job description and research the company
Though you may be strong in many different areas, only include those that are relevant to the job. Recruiters often have limited time when reviewing CVs, so it’s best to keep your skills section specific and concise. Once you move on to the interview phase, you’ll have the opportunity to elaborate on additional skills not mentioned on your CV.
Start by reviewing the job description and making note of any required skills or abilities that match your own. In addition to job requirements, consider the description of the company and its culture.
For example, a job description for a medical assistant may require proficiency in electronic medical records software and scheduling programs. It may also state that the company values teamwork and patient satisfaction. In this case, the best skills to put on a CV might include the following:
electronic medical records (EMR) systems
patient scheduling software
If you don’t see any clues about company culture listed in the job description, take a look at Indeed Company Pages or review the employer’s website for additional information.
Decide on a skills section format
You have several options when deciding where you should list skills on your CV:
List your skills on a functional CV. This option is good for people changing careers or those with little to no professional experience.
List your skills in a separate skills section. This option is good for those who have extensive experience but want to clearly highlight specific skills or qualifications that set them apart.
Weave your skills into your professional experience section. No matter how you decide to list skills on your CV, you should include keywords from the job description when listing previous experience.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these options as you decide which is best for your background.
1. List your skills on a functional CV
If you’re changing careers or industries and don’t have extensive professional experience, you might decide to feature them at the top of your CV. This type of CV is called a functional CV.
To include skills on a functional CV, you should create skills sections that list your successes with key skills relevant to the position for which you’re applying. Any professional experience you do have should go below your skills section.
Here’s an example of how to list skills on a functional CV:
Created customer service email scripts used across the company to interact with customers. Single-handedly created customer service representative training manual, reducing onboarding process from 8 to 6 weeks. Reduced average customer representative call time by 90 seconds with intuitive online training.
Answered an average of 50+ calls per day from unsatisfied customers related to delays in shipment, order mistakes and lost orders. Achieved 97% average customer satisfaction rating, surpassing team goal by 12%.
Consistently exceeded application targets by 10%+ with innovative up-selling techniques. Pioneered development of improved system for following up with unsatisfied customers, reducing customer churn by 6%.
2. List your skills in a separate skills section
If you want to support your professional experience with skills that are required by or relevant to the employer, you could include a separate skills section that highlights keywords from the job description. If you have extensive professional experience, your job history section should be highlighted as the first thing employers see. You can list additional skills in a separate section at or near the bottom of your CV.
Here is an example skills section for a payroll specialist:
Relevant skills: Mastery of Quicken and Quickbooks, employee benefits administration, new hire onboarding, multi-region payroll, employee relations.
3. Weave your skills into your professional experience section
While many jobseekers may list skills in a separate section of their CV, it’s also important to weave them into descriptions under each of your previous positions. This is where you have an opportunity to strengthen your skills section with additional context and specific examples.
For example, if you include the skills ‘project management’ and ‘time management’, you could illustrate this by providing a real-life example, like: ‘Successfully managed six projects across three separate teams during the first half of 2018, and delivered all completed items by the deadlines’.
Example skills to put on a CV
While you can often easily determine what hard skills to list based on details in the job description, selecting relevant soft skills is not always as clear. To help narrow down which soft skills to put on a CV, review the various duties of the position and determine which of your personal strengths will help you successfully complete those tasks.
Related article: 139 action verbs to make your CV stand out
Here are several examples of popular soft and hard skills employers may be seeking:
1. Active listening skills
Active listening is the ability to focus completely on a speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information and respond thoughtfully. Active listeners use verbal and non-verbal techniques to show and keep their attention on the speaker. Developing and using active listening skills can show your colleagues that you engage with them and have interest in the project or task at hand.
Related listening skills include:
2. Communication skills
Communication skills are the abilities you use when giving and receiving different kinds of information. Some examples include communicating ideas, feelings or what’s happening around you. Communication skills involve listening, speaking, observing and empathising. Having strong communication skills is important in every industry at every career level.
Related communications skills include:
3. Computer skills
Computer skills involve the ability to learn and operate various technologies. Hardware skills enable you to physically operate a computer, and can be as simple as knowing how to turn devices on and off. Software skills help you efficiently use computer programs and applications. There are some software skills that employers may consider as prerequisites to employment, like using spreadsheets or knowing a certain coding language.
Related computer skills include:
fluency in coding languages
4. Customer service skills
Customer service skills are traits and practices that help you address customer needs to create a positive experience. In general, customer service skills rely heavily on problem-solving and communication. Customer service is often considered a ‘soft skill’, including traits like active listening and reading both verbal and non-verbal cues.
Related customer service skills:
5. Interpersonal skills
Interpersonal skills are traits you rely on when you interact and communicate with others. They cover a variety of scenarios where cooperation is essential. Developing interpersonal skills is important to work efficiently with others, solve problems and lead projects or teams.
Related interpersonal skills include:
To learn more, visit Interpersonal skills: definitions and examples.
6. Leadership skills
Leadership skills are skills you use when organising other people to reach a shared goal. Whether you’re in a management position or leading a project, leadership skills require you to motivate others to complete a series of tasks, often according to a schedule.
Related leadership skills:
ability to teach and mentor
7. Management skills
Managerial skills are qualities that help you govern both tasks and people. A good manager is organised, empathetic and communicates clearly to support a team or project. Managers should also be adept in both soft skills and certain technical skills related to their industry.
Related management skills:
8. Problem-solving skills
Problem-solving skills are qualities that help you determine the source of a problem and quickly find an effective solution. This skill is highly valued in any role for every industry. Solving problems in your role might require certain industry- or job-specific technical skills.
Related problem-solving skills:
attention to detail
9. Time management skills
Time management skills enable you to complete tasks and projects before deadlines while also maintaining work-life balance. Staying organised can help you allocate your workday to specific tasks by importance. Deeply understanding your individual, team and company goals can provide a starting point when deciding how to manage your time.
Related time management skills:
10. Transferable skills
Transferable skills are qualities that are useful to any employer as you change jobs or careers. Often soft skills, these might include things like flexibility, organisation, teamwork or other qualities employers seek in strong candidates. Transferable skills can be used to position your past experience when applying for a new job – especially if it’s in a different industry.
Related transferable skills:
The best skills to put on a CV vary by job type, career level, education and other factors. For example, the most important skills for a commercial truck driver will differ from those for a marketing manager. Before you apply to any job, take time to review the skills that are most valuable to the employer and tailor your CV based on which of your personal skills fall within their requirements.
The goal of your CV skills list is to show the recruiter or hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the role and will bring defined value to their team. By paying attention to the type of candidate an employer is looking for and making connections with your own strengths, you can quickly stand out from the competition.
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