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Top Skills to Feature on Your CV to Get Closer to That Dream Job

When you are looking to write your CV, most of the advice you’ll find online is to start with a cover letter to accompany your CV. The purpose of a cover letter is essential, as it gives a recruiter the first impression of you. Cover letters detail your skill set, how those align with the role, what you can bring to the team, and why you want the position. Once you have that sorted, you need to make sure your actual CV is as good as possible and is targeted to the job you’re looking for. Make sure you know your audience. If you’re writing your CV, there are certain skills you need to have to stand out from the competition. 

The skills section is very important but sometimes gets the least attention. It is important to have a good balance between your soft skills and your hard skills.

Hard skills are measurable and teachable abilities, such as reading, writing, math or the ability to use various software. On the other hand, soft skills are the traits that make you a good employee, such as communication, etiquette and the ability to get along with other people.

Your previous work experience and your qualifications are what recruiters initially look at. Still, when it comes to narrowing down candidates, a good skills section can make or break your chance to get an interview. We are going to focus on soft skills that are essential to include. So, what are the top skills to add to your CV?


A graphic of a team of employees and the word "adaptability"


The first skill worth mentioning is adaptability. If you survived the shifts and changes in the job market from 2020 till current, you know how adaptable you have needed to be to stay afloat. Think about how you’ve had to adapt and evolve and how you approach work if you can show that in your CV, that’ll be a potent indicator to the employer that you can adapt to the times. 

Let’s use remote work as an example. We were used to going into an office every day and suddenly, seemingly overnight, we had to shift to remote work. If you were somebody that didn’t work remotely typically, there’s definitely a change in the way that you needed to approach your work, specifically around communication, networking, and teamwork. 

If you’ve never used technology like Zoom or MS Teams before, surely, by this point, you have. So those would be great skills to get on your CV to show that you’re not only adaptable but that you can thrive during times of great changes and difficulties.



A graphic of a man with a calculator and the word "analytics"

The next skill you need to have on your CV in today’s day, and age is analytics. Data analytics is one of the most common skills that play a part in the majority of jobs today. Our jobs are all dictated by metrics that we have to fill. The ability to take complex sets of data and be able to tell a story with them is crucially important no matter the job. 

For example, if you are a forklift operator, maybe it’s the number of loads physically moved in a given period of time that needs to be understood and interpreted, or if you’re a recruiter, you have days to fill metrics. Just about every position in the workforce is governed by some level of data, and you need to be able to interpret that, so make sure you show that skill on your resume.


Problem Solving

A graphic of a puzzle and the words: "problem solving"

The next major skill to consider is problem-solving skills. Now, be careful with this one because people tend to list this in their skill sets, and it usually comes across as being pretty fluffy. What you want to do is try to attach an actual accomplishment to your problem-solving skill. Demonstrate problem-solving in your resume. 

Think about times when you didn’t have a playbook to follow, where you had to create your own solutions, those are the things that employers are looking for and those skills are in high demand. So, on your CV, instead of just saying that you’re a problem solver, try to show us when you solved a problem at work in real life. If you can link your example to a measurable result using data analytics, that’s even better.



A graphic of a puzzle being solved by a set of hands with the word: "collaboration"

The final important skill that you need to be able to show is collaboration or teamwork. As we look at how we approach our jobs nowadays, it is a significantly more global environment. In today’s workplaces, it’s not uncommon for people to be working cross-culturally, cross-continentally, across time zones, and across departments to get something done. 

Teamwork and collaboration are the reality in most workplaces, and there doesn’t seem to be a job out there today that doesn’t rely on some level of collaboration. On your CV, try to show a time when you were a good team player and how you got other departments or other cross-functional teams involved in your problem-solving skills.

There’s some finesse in proving and quantifying soft skills. Instead of writing out your soft skills word-for-word, demonstrate them in the work that you do and previous experiences you have. If you had a position where you had to lead a group of people and your project was successful, that shows organization skills, collaborative skills, and leadership skills. So for the skills listed above, when writing your CV, find examples in your previous experiences that strongly highlight those skills. Once you’ve written it all out, make sure to proofread, and you’re all set!


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By Susan Barlow

Dr. Susan Barlow is retired from academia after teaching business administration, project management, and business writing courses for over 20 years.

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