Your guide to showcasing key skills on your CV

Skills are a vital part of your CV. They are crucial to showing an employer that you are qualified to do the job and they're also a ticket to being ranked highly by the applicant tracking system

However, incorporating skills into your CV is more complex than it sounds. There are different categories of skills to understand, for instance. Plus, it's essential to select the right skills and include them in your CV in an organic and recognisable way.

Here, we break down what you need to know about CV skills and offer master lists of the skills that could land you your next role.

Soft skills vs hard skills on your CV

We can break skills into two categories: soft and hard skills.

Soft skills are personal attributes and qualities that affect how you do the job. They are often the people skills that help us to read our colleagues, manage situations, and perform well in a workplace environment. 

Soft skills are essential. These types of proficiencies are hard to teach, but the good news is that we develop these skills daily in domestic and professional settings.

Some examples of soft skills to add to your CV include:

On the other hand, hard skills are part of the essential skill set needed to do a job successfully and, as a result, are job-specific. They are sometimes called technical skills, which are often learnt through formal courses and training. 

Hard skills are necessary because they prove to an HR Manager that you have the abilities required to execute the job. For example, if a role calls for proficiency with Google Analytics, that specific knowledge base is a hard skill that determines whether or not you can perform the necessary tasks of the job.

Some examples of hard skills include:

  • STEM skills

  • Software proficiencies

  • Analytics

  • Foreign languages

  • Database management

  • Design tool use

  • Social media platforms

  • Data visualisation

  • Research

  • Bookkeeping

How to identify the best CV skills

Before you consider what and how to add key skills to your CV, you need to decide which skills to add by identifying and evaluating your competencies. This step is particularly important if you're a seasoned professional with a broad skill set. Follow this step-by-step approach:

1. Conduct a self-assessment

Your first task is to braindump all the skills you possess. If nothing comes to mind, reflect on your past professional experiences, including the roles you've had and the projects you were part of. Consider the tasks you performed, any challenges you faced and overcame, and your responsibilities.

Once you have a task list, consider specific achievements tied to your responsibilities. Did you achieve any goals or contribute to the success of a team or project? You could also reflect on any feedback you've received recently from performance evaluations, to help identify your strengths and weaknesses.

2. Review the job description

Your next task is to review the job description of your target role. Alternatively, if you haven't found a vacancy you like yet, collate a handful of job descriptions related to the types of positions you're interested in. Read the job description carefully and identify the key skills and qualifications employers seek. Cross-reference your list with your self-assessment and see which skills you can add to your pool.

3. Consult online resources

For more skills inspiration, use online resources within the careers space and skills databases to build up a comprehensive list of industry and role-specific skills. You could also conduct research on LinkedIn, by researching the skills listed by professionals in similar roles or industries.

4. Categorise your skills

By now, you should have a chunky list of skills. Categorise them by skill type, such as hard and soft skills, to cleanse your list. It will make the next step easier!

5. Finalise your list

Based on your self-assessment and industry research, narrow down your list to the most relevant and impactful skills. Ensure you have a balance of technical and transferable skills to show you're a well-rounded professional.

How to add skills to your CV

Including skills on your CV correctly is just as important as possessing a strong skill set. Here are a few ways to approach adding skills to your CV:

List your skills in a Core Competencies section

You can zoom in on your hard and soft skills in a designated Key Skills or Core Competencies section. This highlights your skills at an early stage and in a format that recruiters can scan at a glance. 

A designated skills section will communicate your abilities to the employer loud and clear. Therefore, it's important to be strategic when choosing which abilities to highlight. Use the job description to determine the specific skills that are required for the job and give special attention to any that overlap with your own skill set.

Reference your skills in your employment history

You can also sneak mentions of skills into your employment history. Instead of stating the name of the skill itself, provide an example of when you used it and its impact. Writing your skills this way doesn't just state what you think you can do, it demonstrates your prowess.

For instance, a customer service professional could showcase their communication skills with a bullet point like this:

  • Generated a 5-star service rating thanks to an ability to clearly communicate information to customers in a friendly, confident manner

List your skills on a functional CV

If you're changing careers or have no professional experience, you may opt for a functional CV format rather than a traditional chronological CV. On a functional CV, you can create a skills section that lists achievements related to each skill. Your professional experience goes underneath this.

200+ example CV skills

To help you choose the best CV skills, here is an extensive list of hard and soft skills, along with examples of how to phrase them in your work experience on your CV:

Communication skills

  • Written communication

  • Verbal communication

  • Presentation 

  • Negotiation 

  • Cross-cultural communication

  • Conflict resolution

  • Client communication

  • Adaptability in communication style

  • Networking

  • Feedback management

  • Giving constructive criticism

  • Social skills

Examples of communication skills on a CV

  • Established and maintained strong client relationships through regular communication, resulting in a 25% increase in customer satisfaction

  • Successfully negotiated contracts with vendors, achieving a 15% cost reduction while maintaining quality standards

  • Led weekly team meetings, fostering open dialogue and ensuring project goal and objective alignment

Computer / IT skills

  • Microsoft 365

  • Google Suite

  • Proficiency in programming languages

  • Computer networking

  • Systems administration

  • Security

  • Troubleshooting

  • Front-end and back-end development

  • Cloud computing

  • DevOps practices

  • Automation

Example of computer skills on a CV

  • Proficient in using Microsoft 365 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook) for document creation, data analysis, presentations, and email management

  • Implemented and managed cybersecurity measures to safeguard systems and data from potential threats and unauthorised access

  • Implemented and managed cloud computing solutions, leveraging AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud platforms for scalable and flexible infrastructure

Active listening skills

Examples of active listening skills on a CV

  • Displayed empathy in client interactions, improving customer satisfaction scores and positive online reviews

  • Engaged with stakeholders to understand their perspectives, ensuring alignment of project goals with organisational objectives

  • Resolved conflict within the team by listening to both sides and finding common ground 

Interpersonal skills

  • Interpersonal intelligence

  • Relationship building

  • Empathy

  • Flexibility

  • Conflict resolution 

  • Cultural sensitivity

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Trust building

  • Diplomacy

  • Patience

Examples of interpersonal skills on a CV

  • Cultivated and maintained strong relationships with clients, resulting in a 30% increase in repeat business

  • Navigated and respected cultural differences within the team, promoting inclusivity and understanding

  • Built trust among team members through consistent communication and reliability, improving team cohesion

Teamwork skills

  • Contributing ideas

  • Delegation

  • Cross-functional collaboration

  • Group decision-making

  • Team motivation

  • Open communication

  • Recognition of contribution

  • Building rapport

  • Tolerance

Examples of teamwork skills on a CV

  • Motivated team members during challenging project phases, fostering a positive, high-performance team culture

  • Collaboratively solved complex problems within the team, leveraging the diverse skill sets of team members

  • Recognised and acknowledged team members' contributions, fostering a sense of accomplishment and motivation

Problem solving skills

  • Critical thinking

  • Developing innovative solutions

  • Conceptual skills

  • Attention to detail

  • Research

  • Data-driven decision making

  • Continuous improvement

  • Decision-making under pressure

  • Adaptability

  • Problem prevention

Examples of problem solving skills on a CV

  • Applied critical thinking to analyse complex problems, leading to successful resolution of challenges within tight deadlines

  • Developed creative solutions to streamline workflow processes, resulting in a 15% increase in overall efficiency

  • Successfully navigated and adapted to changes in project scope, ensuring continued success in dynamic environments

Time management skills

  • Time tracking and reporting

  • Project prioritisation

  • Goal setting

  • Efficient task execution

  • Deadline and schedule adherence

  • Productive use of time

  • Delegation

  • Organisation

  • Meeting management

Examples of time management skills on a CV

  • Implemented time-tracking systems, providing accurate reports for project timelines and resource allocation

  • Conducted efficient and focused meetings, optimising time utilisation and ensuring clear communication of objectives

  • Effectively prioritised tasks, ensuring timely completion of critical projects and exceeding stakeholder expectations

Organisational skills

  • Physical organisation

  • Mental organisation

  • Planning 

  • Document management

  • Delegation

  • Time management

  • Prioritising

  • Resource management

Examples of organisational skills on a CV

  • Established an efficient document management system, ensuring easy access to critical information and enhancing team collaboration

  • Implemented task-tracking systems, providing real-time updates on project progress and identifying areas for improvement

  • Oversaw logistical planning for projects, coordinating activities to ensure seamless execution

Transferable skills

  • Leadership

  • Creativity

  • Empathy

  • Ambition

  • Attention to detail

  • Time management

  • Critical thinking

Examples of transferable skills on a CV

  • Displayed leadership potential by taking initiative in challenging situations and motivating team members

  • Demonstrated strong time-management skills, consistently meeting deadlines and achieving project milestones

  • Applied critical thinking to evaluate situations from different perspectives, leading to well-informed decision-making

Leadership skills

  • Strategic planning

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Team management

  • Delegation

  • Stakeholder management

  • Empathy

  • Vision

  • Confidence

  • Empowerment and motivation

  • Active listening

Examples of leadership skills on a CV

  • Guided the team through the strategic decision-making processes, contributing to the successful implementation of key initiatives

  • Empowered team members by delegating responsibilities and fostering a sense of ownership in project outcomes

  • Set clear and achievable goals for the team, providing direction and purpose in daily tasks

Management skills

  • Budget management

  • Performance evaluation

  • Strategic planning

  • Talent acquisition

  • Coaching

  • Coordination

  • Public speaking

  • Decision making

Examples of management skills on a CV

  • Made informed decisions based on data analysis and team input, contributing to successful project outcomes

  • Provided coaching and mentoring, fostering professional growth and development within the team

  • Developed and executed strategic plans, aligning departmental objectives with overall organisational goals

Analytical skills

  • Data analysis

  • Forecasting

  • Data mining

  • Problem-solving

  • Research

  • Analytical reasoning

  • Cost-benefit analysis

  • Risk assessment

Examples of analytical skills on a CV

  • Used statistical models to forecast market trends, enabling proactive business planning

  • Analysed complex data sets to extract meaningful insights, informing strategic business decisions

  • Conducted risk assessments to identify potential challenges and implemented mitigation strategies

Sales skills

  • Product knowledge

  • Rapport building

  • Active listening

  • Conflict management and resolution

  • Salesforce software

  • Negotiation skills

  • Sales forecasting

  • Pipeline management

  • Presentation skills

Examples of sales skills on a CV

  • Negotiated contracts with clients and vendors, achieving favourable terms and fostering positive relationships

  • Developed and delivered persuasive sales presentations, contributing to profitable client acquisition

  • Managed and maintained a robust sales pipeline, ensuring consistent business growth

Customer service skills

  • Problem-solving

  • Product knowledge

  • Clear communication

  • Customer retention 

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Proactivity

  • Positivity

  • Empathy

  • Patience

Examples of customer service skills on a CV

  • Addressed customer issues with empathy, leading to swift and satisfactory problem resolution

  • Anticipated customer needs and proactively provided solutions, exceeding customer expectations

  • Demonstrated patience in handling challenging customer situations, ensuring positive outcomes and customer satisfaction

Administration skills

  • Office management

  • Document control

  • Organisation

  • Proficiency with Microsoft 365 or Google Suite

  • Data entry

  • Email management

  • Enquiry resolution 

  • Attention to detail

  • Travel coordination

Examples of administration skills on a CV

  • Coordinated travel arrangements for executives and team members, ensuring smooth business operations

  • Efficiently managed and organised a high volume of emails, enabling timely responses and prioritising critical communication

  • Implemented a document control system to improve accuracy and accessibility of critical information

Business skills

  • Business acumen

  • Financial literacy

  • Strategic planning

  • Market analysis

  • SWOT analysis

  • Strategic partnership building 

  • Goal setting

  • Leadership

  • Critical thinking

Examples of business skills on a CV

  • Demonstrated strong financial literacy, effectively managing departmental budgets and optimising resource allocation for financial sustainability

  • Conducted in-depth SWOT analyses, identifying internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats to inform strategic decision-making

  • Identified, cultivated, and established strategic partnerships, expanding business opportunities and fostering collaborative growth

Marketing skills

  • Copywriting

  • Data analysis

  • Google Analytics

  • Creative thinking

  • SEO (search engine optimisation)

  • Content creation

  • Campaign management

  • Social media

  • Market positioning

  • Market segmentation 

Examples of marketing skills on a CV

  • Successfully managed marketing campaigns from conception to execution, achieving measurable increases in brand awareness

  • Developed and implemented effective social media strategies, increasing brand visibility and engagement

  • Used data analytics to refine marketing strategies, ensuring targeted and effective campaigns

Finance skills

  • Accounting and bookkeeping

  • Cash flow management

  • Maths

  • Financial modelling

  • Financial analysis

  • Budget planning

  • Sage, Xero and QuickBooks

  • Audit preparedness

  • Invoicing and purchase orders

Examples of finance skills on a CV

  • Demonstrated proficiency in using accounting software such as Sage, Xero, and QuickBooks, ensuring accurate and efficient financial management

  • Managed invoicing processes and purchase orders efficiently, resulting in timely and accurate financial transactions

  • Effectively managed cash flow to ensure liquidity and meet financial obligations, optimising financial stability

Retail skills

  • Persuasion

  • Resilience

  • Sales

  • Ability to work under pressure

  • Product rotation

  • Cash handling

  • Point-of-sale (POS) system

  • Loss prevention

  • Customer engagement

  • Inventory control

  • Visual merchandising

Examples of retail skills on a CV

  • Thrived in fast-paced retail environments, effectively managing tasks and delivering exceptional customer service under pressure

  • Implemented measures to prevent loss through theft or damages, ensuring the profitability and security of the retail operation

  • Designed and maintained visually appealing displays, attracting customer attention and positively impacting sales

Teaching skills

  • Curriculum development

  • Activity planning

  • Educational software use

  • Classroom management

  • Assessment and feedback

  • Adaptability

  • Patience

  • Communication

  • Cultural understanding

  • Classroom innovation

  • Special needs differentiation 

Examples of teaching skills on a CV

  • Developed engaging and age-appropriate activities aligned with curriculum objectives, fostering interactive and participatory learning experiences

  • Effectively integrated educational software into lessons, leveraging technology to enhance student understanding and engagement

  • Developed and implemented effective classroom management strategies, promoting a positive and focused learning environment 

Creative skills

  • Open-mindedness

  • Problem-solving

  • Artistic creativity (music, art, design, writing)

  • Adaptability

  • Visualisation

  • Storytelling

  • Innovative thinking

Examples of creative skills on a CV

  • Applied innovative thinking to projects, challenging conventional ideas and introducing fresh perspectives for creative breakthroughs

  • Mastered the art of storytelling, weaving narratives that captivated and engaged audiences across various media

  • Demonstrated strong problem-solving skills, approaching challenges with creativity to find innovative solutions

Whether soft or hard, CV skills are how you can show an employer that you can execute (and excel in) a job. Therefore, choosing the right skills and strategically highlighting them on your CV will be key to impressing and landing your next interview. You've developed a respectable toolbox of proficiencies throughout your career; make sure you put it to good use in your job search.

We can make sure you're including your key skills the right way. Request a free CV review today!

This article was originally written by Lauren Settembrino and has been updated by Laura Slingo.

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