Nail those hard skills on your CV for job search success!

A CV is all about showing off your strengths, and hard skills are a huge part of that. But remember to tailor them every time you apply for a role. Let's delve a little deeper into what hard skills are, so you can upgrade your CV into a polished and strong document.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are specific to individual professions. They are technical competencies that you've built up over the years in order to accomplish the responsibilities and tasks of your job. You'll have acquired them through the training, experience, and knowledge that you've garnered throughout your career. Basically, without these hard skills, you wouldn't have a clue how to carry out a specific requirement of your job.

Hard skills are often highlighted in job descriptions when advertising for a role, as they can be easily defined and so recruiters can immediately sort the wheat from the chaff.

Why are hard skills so important?

These types of skills are crucial to your success because they show your proficiency within a role and, therefore, the capability you have to perform that role, setting you apart from the rest of the candidates applying for the same vacancy.

For example, if you're applying for a civil engineering job, you need to be a Civil Engineer. It's highly unlikely that a hiring manager will look past the Education or Skills sections on your CV if you haven't got those basic hard skills to start with.

30 examples of hard skills by sector

Below are 10 sectors, each with three examples of hard skills, to give you a flavour of the type of information that a hiring manager might be looking for. Each sector is very wide, so of course it will depend on the type of role you have within that sector. There will be many more hard skills that can be added to each, but this will give you a head start and get you thinking about your own hard skills - and how to present them on your CV in the best possible light.


  • Educational Development - an overall key hard skill for those in educational leadership positions
  • Pupil / Student Attainment - vital for progression if you're a Teacher, Lecturer, or Tutor, as you want to show how well your pupils perform with you at the helm
  • Curriculum Development - this proves how you can create and improve courses for learners of different levels and needs, which also shows your differentiation expertise as another hard skill


  • Computer Science - whichever field of engineering you're in, it's likely that you'll use computers on a daily basis - so skills such as programming are valuable and will appeal to a potential employer
  • Structural Analysis - being able to determine the effect that loads have on a physical structure and its components is a sought-after asset
  • Construction Support / Management - adopting specialised support / management techniques to oversee the planning, design, and construction of a project means you're capable of seeing a project through to conclusion


  • Accounting - being able to track and record financial transactions effectively is crucial for performing further finance tasks such as financial analysis, data modelling, and financial reporting
  • Cash Flow Management - many businesses use cash flow management to manage finances and growth, so it's a crucial hard skill to have if you work within the finance industry
  • Budgeting - vitally important to those of you in accounting or in senior finance positions, as it shows your innate ability to handle large sums of money and divide it according to requirements across a company


  • Medicine Administration - so important to get right every time, as it could end up as a matter of life or death
  • Infection Control - being able to prevent or stop the spread of infection in healthcare settings is another vital hard skill to have within the healthcare sphere
  • CPR - administering CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to someone having a cardiac arrest in order to keep them alive is a must on your medical CV

Marketing / PR

  • SEO - that's Search Engine Optimisation, a skill that any marketer should be up-to-date with in order to realise the full effect of their work when marketing a particular product or company
  • Strategic Planning - planning in a comprehensive way to define the direction of marketing campaigns, showing that you make the right decisions to attain goals
  • Content Marketing - this demonstrates that you can produce content that engages with the audience you're targeting


  • Full Recruitment Lifecycle - this hard skill displays how adept you are at the 360 degree recruitment process, covering interviews, inductions, and hiring
  • Employment Law Knowledge - something you should know inside and out
  • Talent Identification / Acquisition - sourcing the correct talent for roles is vital in recruitment so shout about it on your CV


  • Technical Knowledge - possessing a range of technical skills means you'll excel in this industry - you'll also need to know scientific principles and concepts so that you can arrive at robust decisions based on facts and data
  • Risk Assessment - determining and preventing potential mishaps and their consequences is highly prized within the renewables sector, as it forms part of broader risk management strategies
  • Sustainability Management - it's figuring out how to make communities and companies greener, without compromising on the ability of future generations to succeed


  • Customer Service - the customer is king in retail, so fill your retail CV with customer-related key skills
  • Brand Awareness - possessing an in-depth knowledge of the brand you work for will go in your favour, so pinpoint this asset on your CV
  • Sales Generation / Management - if you're in retail you're likely selling something, so make a point of adding this hard skill so that hiring managers are aware that you're able to capitalise on strategies that can boost sales


  • Research - fundamental in this world, being able to conduct meticulous research is certainly a valuable asset to have
  • Data Management / Analysis - being able to handle large amounts of data during research, then drawing conclusions from it, is bread and butter to a scientist
  • Regulatory Knowledge - understanding how the industry you work in is regulated means you can stay within those guidelines and not get into trouble!


Technical Writing - communication is key; show that you can explain complex instructions and ideas in an easy-to-understand way

Coding - a basic skill required from an IT professional, but so important, as understanding code is required when it comes to completing software development projects

Troubleshooting - a logical and systematic search for the source of any problem in order to solve it, this hard skill requires more than a, “just turn it off and turn it on again” attitude! 

Expert Tip: Place more of your technology skills in the IT Proficiency section towards the end of your CV for added impact!

How to incorporate hard skills into your CV

Just like including facts and figures on your CV to show tangible evidence of your greatness, hard skills are required to demonstrate your credibility and relevance to the role you're applying for.

Hard skills can be included in your CV in a number of ways:

  • Within the Skills Matrix / Areas of Expertise section, just below the Professional Profile

For example, for a Business Administrator you could have:

Administrative Management | Administrative Support | Business Administration | Secretarial Support | Data Management | Data Entry | Scheduling | Archiving | Customer Service | Database Management | Proofreading | Training | Contract Management | Stock Control |

  • Weaved in throughout your Career Summary

  •  In any Key Achievements that you might have

Soft skills vs hard skills - what's the difference?

Now that we know all about hard skills, what about the soft skills that are often mentioned? What are they and how do they differ from hard skills?

Soft skills, which can also be known as core skills, common skills, or power skills, are those skills that apply to most professions and roles. They are transferable - perfect to concentrate on within your CV if you're thinking about switching careers. They are qualities that aren't quite so easy to quantify or pin down with tangible evidence. They can include things like critical thinking, teamwork, effective communication, and problem resolution.

Make sure your CV sells your skills

Whatever level you're at, whatever stage of your career, hard skills on your CV are a must, so take the time to really focus on those that you have and get them on your CV now!

Is your CV showcasing your hard skills in the best possible way? If you don't feel it quite cuts the mustard, help is at hand. TopCV offers a free CV review service that will provide you with comprehensive feedback so you can incorporate those hard skills with confidence.

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