Skills for CV Writing: Top Skills to Include on Your CV

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

The best skills to put on your CV are the hard and soft skills you possess that are relevant to the job you're applying for. Use this guide on skills for CV writing to identify the key skills for your CV as well as how and where to include them.

[Featured Image]: A job applicant works on a laptop while drinking tea by a window.

The skills you put on your CV need to be relevant to the job you’re applying for and highlight your ability to perform in the role. These should be a combination of soft skills and hard skills.

When it comes to writing your CV, making sure you have included all the relevant skills for the role you’re applying for is key to getting you an interview. You will be assessed on how well you meet the job criteria, and the skills you can demonstrate will show that you are qualified. Choosing the key skills for your CV will vary depending on the type of role you’re interested in, so it’s best to go through the job description and essential criteria to make sure you are including everything the recruiter will be looking for.

Types of skills for CV

Every role will call for different skills, but these can be broken down into two categories: hard skills and soft skills. 

Hard skills

Hard skills are job specific and are likely only shown by people with experience and knowledge of their field. They are part of the essential skillset needed to do the job and can be acquired through experience, but are largely obtained through education and training.

These key skills for a CV are vital to the role and often non-negotiable unless specified that they can be learnt on the job. It is therefore essential that they are outlined properly on your CV. The hard skills necessary for any job will vary. Hard skills for a nursing position will differ from those of a lawyer. Make sure you check the job description to ascertain which skills you need to include on your CV. Some examples of hard skills include:


Being competent in multiple languages is useful for a variety of businesses even if not directly relevant to the job. It demonstrates enhanced communication skills and has been linked to improved problem-solving ability and a better memory.

IT proficiency

The level of IT skills needed will vary from job to job, but showing you have technical ability is vital for most positions in 2021, especially with the recent rise in virtual/remote working. Include all the IT skills necessary to do the job you’re applying for and indicate your proficiency in general. It is likely there will be specific programs or software needed for each role so add these skills to your CV if you have them.


Soft skills

Soft skills are transferable skills that you can take from job to job. They are not specific to any one area, although some will be more relevant than others. They tend to be the personal attributes that allow you to excel in your role. Unlike hard skills that can be taught in courses, soft skills are more difficult to learn, although they can be improved with practise. Some examples of soft skills to put on your CV include:


Being able to communicate with others is essential in any role. Whether the role calls for presenting to large groups, engaging with stakeholders, or communicating with customers, it is a key skill for your CV. 


If you have the ability to lead teams, coordinate projects, and generally engage people in a way that gets them to take action, then making this clear on your CV will be valuable. You don’t have to be in charge of a huge team to call yourself a leader. If you have leadership qualities and any examples of times that you have taken charge, include this skill on your CV.


The majority of jobs require you to work in a team. Even if you are working remotely, you will still be part of a wider team. For this reason, employers want to know that you are good at working with other people. Make it clear that you know how to collaborate, share successes, and inspire others.


Being able to solve problems is useful for most professions, especially roles related to engineering, research, law, analytics, or similar. Employers like to know that you can think on your feet, are solutions-focus,ed and can make decisions. This is all related to problem-solving, so it is an excellent skill to put on your CV.

Knowing which skills to include

With all the skills you have now identified, it’s important that you pick the relevant ones to highlight. To do this, look at the job descriptions and essential criteria for the role you’re applying for and pick out the skills that are mentioned. 

Use the exact keywords, which means you will also be making sure your CV is optimised for ATS tracking systems. These applicant tracking software tools scan your CV before it sees human eyes, so you want to make sure your CV passes through by using relevant skills keywords.

Include only the skills you need to prove you can do the job. If you are amazing at riding horses but you are going for a computer programming job, it’s not necessary to include this on your CV.

Where to include skills on your CV

Now that you know what skills to put on your CV, the next step is determining where they go. There are several places where you can put skills to make sure they really stand out.

Profile section

At the top of your CV, you will have a section outlining who you are, your most relevant experience and accomplishments, and what you’re looking to do. This is the perfect place to add your most relevant skills for the job you're applying for, as well as your achievements.

Experience section

This is the main section of your CV, where you detail your professional history. Here you will outline your duties and achievements, but in doing so, you will be highlighting your skills. Did you build an automation system? If so, include the programs and software that you used. Did you manage a large event? Think about your leadership skills here, along with your ability to communicate and work under pressure. Make sure these are all included rather than being generic.

Skills section

Your CV will benefit from a dedicated skills section. This can be done in one of two ways. It can either be a list of the relevant skills you possess, or it can be a more detailed section with the skills as subheadings with examples to follow. The latter is a skills-based CV and is especially useful if you are changing your career direction. Whichever you choose, this section is the best place to make sure you make an impact when citing your skills.

Getting started

Making sure you have a well-written CV, and you have included all of your relevant skills is the key to passing ATS screening software and getting your CV in front of a recruiter. It may be the case that you need to brush up on some soft or hard skills in order to meet the job criteria for certain roles.

A good place to start might be taking a course on teamwork skills, communication skills, or other soft skills. To learn more about writing an effective CV and preparing for your interview, take a look at the career planning course offered by Tomsk State University on Coursera.

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