How to impress with your CV skills section

It should come as no surprise that employers want to hire the perfect candidate for the job. Logically, that means recruiters are immediately drawn to the CV skills section. Within seconds, they screen your list of CV skills and decide whether your CV skills and qualities are worth it.

So, how do you make an excellent first impression? What should you include in your CV skills section? And, what are the best CV skills to impress any hiring manager? In this article, we’ll answer all these questions (and more). So, whether you’re looking for a list of CV skills as inspiration, wondering if you should adjust your CV skills section, or could use some help with your design: we’ve got you covered.
 

List of CV skills: the basics

With a brand-new (or reused) CV format, and a CV summary that wows recruiters, you’re ready for that list of CV skills to choose from. Newsflash: that’s not exactly how it works.

While adding skills to your CV certainly won’t take too long, the process of choosing the right skills is slightly more nuanced than that. So, unless you want to waste your time or bore a recruiter with a standard list of CV skills, we know precisely how to help you. So let’s start with the basics.
 

What to add to your CV skills section?

Believe it or not, your CV skills section serves as -who would’ve guessed?- a section on your CV to showcase skills. It’s one of the three most important parts (a shared first place with CV experience and CV education).

Considering the limited time a recruiter spends screening your CV, it’s wise to place the CV skills section at the top of your page. It’s best to include a combination of soft skills and hard skills. So let’s refresh our memories:
 

What are soft skills?

Soft skills refer to attributes and habits that illustrate the way you work. It gives the employer an idea of how you’d adapt to the work environment and company culture. Want to know the best part? Soft skills are not limited to a specific industry; they’re a great addition to your CV skills section, no matter the vacancy.

These are some examples of soft skills:

  • Creativity;
  • Problem-solving;
  • Leadership;
  • Time management;
  • Adaptability.

 

What are hard skills?

On the other hand, hard skills refer to technical knowledge and training you’ve gotten through practice. They’re essential to specific jobs yet useless for others. You use them to complete your tasks.

Examples of hard skills are:

  • Machinery skills;
  • Languages;
  • Coding skills;
  • Mathematics;
  • Accounting.

 

CV skills section: copy-paste

Did you ever come across a vacancy that matches your CV skills section 100%? Neither did we. And that’s okay because a job description isn’t a dating profile, and hunting for a job isn’t the same as hoping to meet your soulmate.

The one thing the two dó have in common, though, is the fact that you’re searching for the one that matches you. Chances are, you’ll send more than one application throughout your entire career. So, how do you make sure that you apply to relevant jobs?
 

CV skills section: common mistakes to avoid (with tips)

Looking at job descriptions that match your CV skills section is a great way to separate the wheat from the chaff. By doing so, however, many job seekers limit themselves and their career opportunities. So, looking for a job that matches your CV skills section to a tee? Avoid making common mistakes.

We know that’s easier said than done, so to help you out, here are five tips:

  1. Searching for a job isn’t the same as looking for a soulmate; it doesn’t have to be perfect;
  2. A job description is an employer’s ideal candidate, not a list of minimum requirements;
  3. You can customise the CV skills section according to the job description per application;
  4. If you want to make sure that you apply to relevant vacancies, just use the filter tool;
  5. Having the right CV skills doesn’t guarantee you get the job, especially if they’re hard skills.

 

CV skills template tips

Adding excel and google spreadsheets to your CV skills template is relatively common. And, for specific industries, such as IT, they are relevant (or even required). However, there’s a vast difference between having once or twice used it in uni, contrary to knowing everything about it (and, let’s be honest: who does?).

As such, it’s wise to use a grading system to give the recruiter an understanding of your skill level. You can customise the CV skills template according to your preferred grading system, such as a scale from 1 to 5, or by ticking boxes. However, note that it’s common to refer to the official level of expertise for some CV skills, such as language.
 

The 21 key CV skills to choose from (for everyone)

Are you looking for key CV skills because you’re considering a career change? Or, did you just graduate and are you worried about your (lack of) hard skills? We’ve got you covered.

These are the key CV skills to include (in alphabetical order):

  • Accounting;
  • Active Listening;
  • Adaptability;
  • Administrative skills;
  • Communication;
  • Conflict Resolution;
  • Collaboration;
  • Creativity;
  • Critical Thinking;
  • Customer Service Skills;
  • Decision Making;
  • Empathy;
  • Interpersonal skills;
  • Language skills;
  • Leadership skills;
  • Management;
  • Negotiation;
  • Organisation;
  • Problem Solving;
  • Public Speaking;
  • Teamwork Skills.

 
Not sure which one is typically you? Or, are you worried that you won’t stand out by using the key CV skills? Let’s figure that out:
 

How to choose good CV skills

Do you lack work experience? Or, do you want to change careers? Then it might be challenging to come up with good CV skills that are relevant for your application. Luckily, the job descriptions can inspire you. But, how do you make sure your CV skills section isn’t simply a copy of the vacancy?

The following list contains common examples of CV skills, with a bunch of related skills per category. Learn how to describe these categories differently and convince your (potential) new employer that you’re the perfect fit.
 

Examples of good CV skills related to leadership and management skills

Leadership motivates people to work towards a goal, while management mainly focuses on administering the work. The core of good CV skills related to leadership will consist of inspiring people, whereas CV skills for management focus on ensuring processes work the way they’re supposed to work. and ensuring that

Trying to find a management position? Or, is a job as a team lead your cup of tea? Then these are good CV skills to consider:

  • Advising;
  • Coaching;
  • Conflict management;
  • Decision-making;
  • Delegating;
  • Diplomacy;
  • Interviewing;
  • Motivation;
  • People management;
  • Problem-solving;
  • Strategic thinking.

 

Best CV skills that highlight the professionalism

If you’re a career-driven job hunter (or just pride yourself on your professionalism), these are the best CV skills to add to your CV skills section:

  • Confidence;
  • Dedication;
  • Ethics;
  • Honesty;
  • Integrity;
  • Maturity;
  • Patience;
  • Presentation;
  • Reliability.

 

List of CV skills for team-building qualities

Show your (potential) new employer that you have impressive team-building skills and qualities with these examples.

  • Collaboration;
  • Communication (verbal and non-verbal);
  • Listening;
  • Motivator;
  • Observing;
  • Participation;
  • Proactive;
  • Respect.

 

Examples of organisational CV skills

Pick from the following list if you want to highlight your organisational skills on your CV:

  • Categorising data;
  • Coordinating;
  • Multi-tasking;
  • Prioritising;
  • Project management;
  • Scheduling;
  • Strategic Planning;
  • Time management.

 

Create your CV skills section

Done reading this article? Then you’ve got quite some CV skills examples to pick from. One last tip before you start: don’t forget that your CV skills can change. You will most likely learn new skills or improve the ones you currently added to your CV. Practice makes perfect! Are you ready to create your CV skills section? Use our free CV builder, and try it out for yourself.

Do you have any more questions about CV skills? No problem. You can probably find the answer in one of the faqs on this page.

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FAQ

  • What are good CV skills and qualities?
    Good CV skills and qualities match the job description of the position you're applying for, without being a word-for-word copy. You can customise the CV skills section according to the job description per application. If you don't feel like you have good CV skills and qualities that match the vacancy, you could also add CV skills that you feel could be relevant. In your cover letter, you get the chance to highlight why those skills match the role or company.
  • What is a CV skills section?
    It's a section on your CV to showcase skills. It’s one of the three most important parts (a shared first place with CV experience and CV education). You should try to add skills that are relevant to the position you're applying for. For example, language skills, computer skills and data entry skills.
  • What are soft skills?
    Soft skills refer to attributes and habits that illustrate the way you work. Examples of soft skills are: Creativity; Problem-solving; Leadership; Time management; Adaptability.
  • What are hard skills?
    Hard skills refer to technical knowledge and training you’ve gotten through practice. Examples of hard skills are: Machinery skills; Languages; Coding skills; Mathematics; Accounting.