How to Select and List Key Skills for Your CV

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Are you creating a CV for job applications? Know about some important skills for CVs so you can get calls from recruiters. In this article, we outline 14 skills to put on CVs. We'll also outline some best practices for adding key skills to your CV.

[Featured image] A job applicant in a white blouse and black cardigan smiles while working on an effective CV.

The most important skills to put on CVs are the ones you possess that match the requirements of the job you're applying for. When you are writing the first draft of your CV, include the technical and workplace skills that are most valued in your industry. Then when you apply for a specific job, review the skills listed in the job description to ensure you have addressed the ones you possess. This will help the hiring manager quickly see at a glance how qualified you are for the position. 

When it comes to organizing skills for CVs, they fall into two general categories: technical skills and workplace skills. Technical skills are industry-oriented, and they must be relevant to the job position you have chosen. A common technical skill for a computer programmer is proficiency in Python programming language, while an expected technical skill for a nurse is checking vital signs. Workplace skills, on the other hand, are common across many different kind of jobs. They are considered people skills, such as problem solving and communicating.  

Key skills for CV writing

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on key skills for CV writing that can apply across many different industries. Consider the following 14 technical and workplace skills as you develop your CV.

1. Listening skills

Candidates with active listening skills can focus highly on the speaker. When you have good listening skills, you can understand the message clearly, learn about the information, and give the right response. Moreover, you can use non-verbal and verbal techniques to pay attention to the speaker. By showing listening skills, you can prove that you are interested in a project. Punctuality, note-taking, and asking questions are some abilities related to listening skills.

2. Customer service skills

Special skills in serving customers and solving their problems can help you have an advantage over other competitors. Recruiters know that employees with these skills can make a customer or client feel positive.

3. Computer skills

Nowadays, basic computer skills are essential for almost any job position. Hardware skills indicate the ability to operate any computer system. On the contrary, software skills denote the efficient use of computer applications and programs. For instance, you must generally have the skills to:

  • Use Microsoft Word

  • Create spreadsheets

  • Manage emails 

  • Navigate the internet

4. Interpersonal skills

These traits enable you to communicate and interact with others. You must develop these skills to work with others, lead teams, and solve problems. Some relevant interpersonal skills include communication, patience, and empathy.

5. Critical thinking skills

Job applicants have to be able to think considerately and rationally. With their critical thinking abilities, they can deal with a company’s project. Moreover, critical thinkers can find better and more innovative ways to work. 

6. Leadership skills

A company may choose you as the leader of a team. Thus, you must have the skills to manage team members and let them reach their goals. You need to motivate others to accomplish a job. To apply for the job in a management position, you have to nurture these skills. Time management, mentoring, and risk-taking skills are relevant to them.

7. Emotional intelligence

Talented job applicants have emotional intelligence. Emotionally intelligent candidates can manage their own emotions and understand others’ emotions. Thus, they are rational and have the ability to deal with ups and downs.

8. Problem-solving skills

In most cases, employers look for these skills in candidates. Problem-solving ability enables an employee to find the right solution to any problem. However, solving problems involves job-oriented technical skills. You must be patient, pay attention to every detail, and do research.

9. Time management skills

Your employee will assign tasks, and you need to do them before deadlines. With time management skills, you will be able to be successful in jobs that require you to schedule your time wisely. Moreover, time management enables you to balance your work life and personal life. You have to stay focused, set your goals, and do a task.

10. Multitasking skills

Today, business activities are getting more complicated than in the past. A good CV needs to show your skills to manage multiple projects and focus on priorities.

11. Decision-making skills

Savvy managers always like to give some autonomy to staff. They know this will enable their employees to work better. They will also value their employee’s capability to analyze a situation. Thus, you can nurture your decision-making skills and include them in your CV.

12. Adaptability skills

A company’s priorities and policies are often evolving. Thus, both newly hired employees and long-time staff members must adjust to changes. Moreover, a manager should also adopt the transformative technologies of a company. Recruiters like to hire candidates who have skills of adaptability.

13. Creativity skills

A business can grow best with fresh and creative ideas. Therefore, recruiters analyse CVs to find candidates with creativity. With your creativity skills, you can come up with innovative solutions to problems and challenges in the workplace. Candidates with creativity are usually able to collaborate with others, which is an important workplace skill.

14. Research skills 

Research skills are essential for some job positions. Employers look for candidates who can dig out valuable data with the best research tools. However, you must also have the ability to interpret data.

Best practices for mentioning skills in your CV

Listing skills on your CV allows potential employers to understand how qualified you are for a job and if you will be an asset to the company. While you are deciding which skills to include in your CV, be sure to follow these important guidelines.

Always be honest about your skills.

It may be tempting to make a CV attractive by adding different certifications and skills. You must not add skills that you do not have. Several organizations conduct background checks and call former employers to confirm candidate skills and abilities.  Furthermore, it will become readily apparent once you begin a job that you are underqualified, further damaging your professional reputation.

Give examples.

When possible, give concrete examples of how you have demonstrated your expertise in a skill in the past. For example, you may talk about how you used creative thinking to devise an innovative plan that helped your team increase productivity by 30%.

Be succinct.

Wordiness is not good for creating CVs. In some cases, candidates like to use words when they find some section of the CV short. Do not use business jargon and cliches. Show that you value a hiring manager's time and are able to express yourself clearly by keeping your CV succinct and to the point. 

Always proofread.

Although you have created your CV properly, it may have formatting mistakes, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors. This will not help in making a positive impression on the recruiter. Before sending your CV, you have to check it thoroughly. You may also engage someone to proofread your CV. 

Write a winning CV that includes key skills.

You can now start writing your CV to apply for jobs. Your value-oriented and achievement-based CVs need to provide the most relevant information about you. Maintain your honesty while writing your CV. Although there are different technical skills to include for specific job positions, workplace skills are common across many industries. Thus, you must not overlook the importance of adding workplace skills to your CV. Moreover, you have to ensure that your skills and qualifications are easy to analyse. A clear and precise format is always desirable.

Get started with Coursera

Practise your cover letter and CV-writing skills in the Guided Project Create a Resume and Cover Letter with Google Docs on Coursera. Continue preparing for your next career move with The Art of the Job Interview to hone your interview skills through practise questions and other exercises. 

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