Your complete guide to understanding technical skills and how to use them on your CV

Every job requires a suite of skills spanning soft and transferable through to hard and technical. Technical skills are a necessity in many industries and vary widely across different roles and sectors. 

In this article, we present the definitive guide to technical skills, complete with definitions and examples, so that you can feel confident citing your technical knowledge on your CV. 

What are technical skills?

Technical skills are most commonly known as hard skills or job-specific skills. They are the qualities and crafts acquired by gaining experience in a specific field or industry. Technical skills are practical abilities, often relating to tasks in the digital, mathematical, scientific, or mechanical spaces, such as tools and software, programming languages, and mechanical equipment. 

However, while technical skills are a typical requirement for technically-focused jobs, they are desirable in other industries too and, as a result, vary widely. For example, a digital marketer may need Google Analytics abilities and an administrator may need record software experience, both of which are technical skills.

Why are technical skills important?

Technical skills are fundamental if an employee is to fulfil their role's responsibilities, as it's likely that the job will require daily use of certain tools, programs, and processes. 

Having an arsenal of technical skills often gives job hunters the edge. They are already familiar with the hardware, likely more confident in their ability to do the job, and therefore give prospective employers confidence in their candidacy too. Plus, it's one less thing for the employer to train someone in when they start. 

What technical skills do employers want?

In job descriptions, there is often a list of required and desired technical skills. 

"Required skills" are typically non-negotiable and are a necessary prerequisite for a successful hire. For example, if you're applying for a graphic design role, you may be required to have strong knowledge of Adobe Creative Cloud, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. 

If it's an entry-level position, some companies may offer training, while others may require an experienced graphic designer who only needs to be brought up to speed on department processes and brand guidelines. 

On the other hand, the “desired skills” on a job advert suggest that employers would like to see some of those competencies on a CV, but they are not essential to succeed in the hiring process. If an employer sees talent and a strong set of transferable skills in a candidate, they may be willing to overlook shortfalls in desired skills and upskill a new hire on the job instead. This is common for positions with high turnover or for niche roles where it's difficult to gain experience without prior employment.

Examples of technical skills

There is a plethora of technical skills. Some are industry-specific and others are common across a range of industries. Here are examples of technical skills which you may see listed on job descriptions while searching for a new role:

Big data analysis

Almost every industry relies on data - and in many ways. Companies today have multiple methods of obtaining data sets from different sources and rely heavily on staff to collect, organise, and interpret the data. Plus, there is a reliance on staff to use existing software or even build out tools to manipulate the data to meet the business' needs. Data skills are highly sought-after in many industries. Examples of data skills include:

  • Use of algorithms

  • Analytical skills

  • Big data

  • Calculating

  • Compiling statistics

  • Data analytics

  • Data cleaning

  • Data mining

  • Data modelling

  • Data visualisation

  • Database design

  • Database management

  • Documentation

  • Extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL)

  • Machine learning


  • Needs analysis

  • Quantitative research

  • Quantitative reporting

  • Statistical analysis and programming

Coding, programming, and software development

Coding, programming, and software development technical skills are not limited to the jobs of programmers, coders, and developers. Many roles require this skill set. The ability to code, and in multiple programming languages, is very desirable and can be transferred into many industries. This is moreso for small companies, who might not have dedicated IT support in their business and would rely on other staff with these abilities. Examples of technical skills in the IT, software, coding, and programming space include:

  • Applications

  • C / C++ / C#

  • Coding

  • Computing

  • Configuration

  • Customer Support

  • Debugging

  • Design

  • Development

  • Hardware

  • HTML

  • Implementation

  • Information technology or ICT (Information and Communications Technology)

  • Infrastructure

  • Java

  • JavaScript

  • Languages

  • Maintenance

  • Network architecture

  • Network security

  • Networking

  • Operating systems

  • Perl

  • PHP

  • Programming

  • Python

  • R

  • Ruby

  • SaaS

  • Security

  • Servers

  • Software

  • Solution delivery

  • Storage

  • Structures

  • SQL

  • Swift

  • Systems analysis

  • Technical support

  • Testing

  • Training

  • Troubleshooting

  • Usability

Productivity software applications

Many pieces of software and applications are the bread and butter of the working world, regardless of the industry. Productivity software, which is essentially software designed to improve our efficiency at work, commonly includes task management apps, video conferencing, presentation software, documents, and spreadsheets. 

These applications are often a basic requirement of many jobs, but you don't need to list them individually on your CV. Instead, opt for phrases which outline your field of expertise. For example, “competent in Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.”

Here is list of other productivity software and common workplace applications employers desire technical skills in:

  • Asana

  • DocuSign

  • Dropbox

  • Google Workspace (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms)

  • Jira

  • Microsoft Office 365 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Yammer, Teams)

  • Miro

  • Salesforce

  • Slack

  • Trello

  • Zapier

  • Zoom

  • Zendesk

Project management

Project management is a critical technical skill. While it might seem like a soft skill, since its foundations are rooted in organisation and communication, it often requires using complex software and specific technical knowledge regarding operations and decision making. Examples of technical skills and applications in project management include: 

  • Adaptive project framework (APF) methodology

  • Agile methodology

  • Benchmarking

  • Budget planning and management

  • Critical chain project management (CCPM)

  • Critical path method

  • Engineering

  • eXtreme programming (XP) methodology

  • Following specifications

  • Forecasting

  • Kanban methodology

  • Lean methodology

  • Outcome mapping

  • Package enabled reengineering (PER)

  • Project planning


  • Quality assurance and quality control

  • Rapid application development (RAD) methodology

  • Risk management

  • Scheduling

  • Scrum methodology

  • Six Sigma

  • Tracking and monitoring

  • Waterfall methodology

Graphic design

Technical graphic design skills are a hot commodity for creative workers, and increasingly important if you want to land a job in the design industry. Securing a graphic design position is more than simply having creative flair. It requires a large portion of technical know-how too. Here are examples technical skills in graphic design:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator)

  • Branding

  • Colour theory

  • Designing for print

  • Design principles

  • Idea generation and moodboards

  • Interactive media

  • Portfolio management

  • Prototyping

  • Responsive design

  • Typography and typesetting

  • UI research 

  • User modelling

  • UX research

  • Wireframing

Digital marketing

Jobs in the digital marketing industry are vastly diverse and so are the associated technical skills. While there are plenty of general digital marketing roles, there are also specialist positions in content marketing, social media management, paid media, and search engine optimisation, for example. Even if you are a specialist in the digital marketing industry, candidates with an awareness of, and experience with, overlapping technical skills are highly sought after. 

Here is a list of common technical skills, software, and applications in digital marketing:

  • Automated marketing software

  • Ahrefs

  • Buffer

  • BuzzSumo

  • Blogging and copywriting

  • Campaign Monitor

  • Content creation

  • Content management systems (CMS)

  • Digital photography

  • Digital media

  • Hootsuite

  • Hotjar

  • HubSpot

  • Google Analytics

  • Google Search Console

  • Loom

  • MailChimp

  • Moz

  • Networking

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

  • SEMrush

  • Social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok)

  • Unbounce

  • Vimeo

  • Web analytics

Other technical skills

There are a great number of other technical skills, spanning a range of industries. 

Here is an additional sample of industry-specific technical skills:

  • Healthcare: Medical coding

  • Human resources: People management software

  • Technical writing: Technical documentation software

  • Retail and foodservice: Point of sale (POS) software

  • Architecture and engineering: CAD software

  • Shipping and transportation: Logistics management software

  • Accounting and finance: Bookkeeping software

How to improve your technical skills

Many of these technical skills can be learnt on the job. However, if that resource or opportunity isn't available to you, or you are changing careers, there are steps you can take to improve your technical abilities.

Enrol on a course

The majority of technical skills can be taught in a dedicated course. From methodologies to software and applications, there is usually a training programme available. 

Many certified courses have a fee, but there are plenty of free and often discounted courses available too. When choosing a course, think about the level you need to train to. You may be able to take a short programme spanning a few hours, rather than a 12-week course.

Use self-study training programmes

Self-study programmes may be another path to acquire technical skills. This may include using free online resources, how-to books, or self-paced online lessons.  

Learn from a professional

You may also be able to learn technical skills from professionals in your network. If relevant, reach out to colleagues in your department or company and your professional network on LinkedIn, to see if you can strike up an exchange of services. There might be technical skills or industry insights you can share with them in return.

Alternatively, you could Google experienced tutors and coaches with advertised services, offering tailored in-person or online sessions, to upskill your technical knowledge.

How to include technical skills in your CV

Your CV should include a key skills or core competencies section near the top of the document, putting your best and most relevant technical skills in prime position. Between 6 and 12 is the optimum number of skills to include.

Remember, the best skills to add to your CV are the ones that relate to the job description and show the employer you are qualified to for the job.

How to keep your technical skills current

Soft skills rarely change. However, technical skills can change regularly with time. Once you have learnt a technical skill, it's your responsibility to keep it fresh, active, and up-to-date.

Use your technical abilities as frequently as you can. If you aren't using them often in your day-to-day role, perhaps you could keep them fresh by tutoring others in your team. Alternatively, you could join online or in-person industry groups to see how others are improving their skillset or continue your education to take your technical abilities to the next level.

As you develop your technical skills and learn new ones, update your CV periodically to reflect your expertise. You'll thank yourself when it's time to look for a new job.

Technical skills are a fundamental addition for your CV as they are vital in any job. To check your CV is doing justice to your skills, submit your CV for a free review and we'll make sure you're including examples of technical skills in the right way. 

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