Put your skills to use on your CV

Searching for a job has become quite a nerve-wracking task. This can be attributed to the rising competition in the job market. With the addition of more and more qualified people each year to the existing talent pool, the candidate choices available to employers for each job vacancy have increased immensely. The challenges are different for experienced employees and far harder for those who have been laid off.

Whatever the situation, it's always the job seeker who suffers the most. For them, it's important to somehow prove their worth to prospective employers. Really, the best any job seeker can do is to use the one tool that they have full control over: their CV.

CVs offer a lot of scope for highlighting your capabilities in a detailed manner. That's why job seekers spend so much time making their CVs perfect. Although employers appreciate a well-written and error-free CV, however, they are also interested in knowing what sets a job candidate apart. This differentiating factor can be taken care by the individual's skills. However, the most difficult task is deciding what skills exactly to add to your CV.

Here are a few tips on deciding what skills to add, and how to add them, in order to leave your prospective employers impressed.

1. Note down all your skills

The first step in deciding on which skills to add to your CV is to list down all the skills you have. Make this list on a separate sheet of paper or on a Word document under two categories: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills include those skills which you acquire through education and training. They are crucial in performing your specific job.

Soft skills have more to do with your personality traits and qualities. Write down everything that you think you're good at.

At the end of the exercise, chances are you will have a long list. Of course, not all the skills will go on your CV but keep this document safe for the future.

2. Read the vacancy description carefully

Your next step should be to carefully read the job description of the position for which you wish to apply. Now make a separate list of skills required for this particular job position. You will find some skills mentioned in the job description itself. You can even do a quick Google search to find out more skills relevant to the job role or take help from sample CVs available on the internet. This way, you'll get an idea of for what the employer is looking and what's desirable.

3. Research the organisation

Before you decide what skills to add to your CV, take some time to research the company. The purpose of this activity is to find out skills that are valued by your preferred employer. The best way to figure out this is to understand the company culture. A young start-up generally appreciates skills such as adaptability, self-motivation, and a problem-solving attitude in a candidate, whereas big organisations generally look for skills such as leadership, teamwork, and great presentation skills.

4. Narrow down your skills

Next, look at both of the lists and identify overlapping skills. This way, you'll be able to customise your CV by narrowing down your skills to include only the relevant ones. Look for ways to include as many hard skills as possible, since it will help in convincing the employer to see you as a valuable candidate.

For example, common hard skills required for a data analytics job includes proficiency in Excel. Therefore, you should highlight your knowledge of Excel early in the CV. 

5. Strike a balance

Make sure to strike a balance while listing skills in your CV. Soft skills such as communication skills and teamwork are as important as hard skills. This is true especially when you're a part of higher management or your work requires you to interact with a lot of people.

Hard skills help you to do the job yourself, but soft skills help in getting the job done alongside others. Therefore, if you wish to apply for a role that is higher than your current one, give equal weight to soft skills in your CV. 

6. Add relevant keywords   

For your CV to be able to impress the prospective employer, it should first perform well in searches. ATS (applicant tracking systems) check whether a job application is relevant or not by matching the keywords used in the job description with the content of the CV, so your CV should contain plenty of keywords relevant to the role. 

However, don't stuff too many keywords in just for the sake of it. Ultimately, it will be read by the recruiter who will take the final decision of calling you for the job interview. Therefore, add only those keywords that are relevant to the job and apply to your field of experience.

On an average, recruiters spend about six seconds looking at a CV to decide whether the applicant is worth calling for a job interview or not. That's how much time candidates get to impress prospective employers, who are generally very selective when it comes to calling people for a job interview. That doesn't mean that every candidate who doesn't get called is unqualified for the job. It simply means that they failed to demonstrate their skills properly on their CV.

Knowing how to sell your skills to prospective employers can make all the difference in the number of job interviews you get called for. It's important to understand what the employer is looking for in a job candidate and tailor your CV accordingly.

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