108 Key skills for your CV

The must-have skills for your CV + how to add them
 
Andrew Fennell photo Andrew Fennell

If you want to land job interviews, your CV needs to be packed with valuable skills.

Skills show recruiters and employers that you have the ability to perform tasks well, and you have expertise in your profession, as well as soft skills.

This guide will show you 108 CV skills that employers love to see + a guide on how to add them to your own CV

 

Contents

Skill categories 

How to add skills to your CV

Soft skills

Soft skills

Soft skills are personal attributes which are not specific to a particular profession and can be applied to any job or industry. They are just as valuable as hard skills, but they are more common and harder to measure and prove in a CV.

  • Adaptability– The ability to quickly adjust to new situations and environments whilst maintaining a high level of performance
  • Attention to detail – Spotting small details that could have big consequences to your employer and dealing with them accordingly
  • Communication– Delivering information to others so that they receive and understand your ideas – This can be written (emails, letters, messaging systems) spoken (conversations, meetings, presentations) visual (videos, posters, images)
  • Creativity – The ability to generate new ideas such as new marketing campaigns, staff initiatives or images for adverts
  • Decision making – Choosing to take actions that could have big effects on colleagues and customer, especially in pressured situations
  • Diplomacy – Dealing with people sensitively and tactfully whilst trying to reach agreements that satisfy differing needs as closely as possible
  • Flexibility – willingness to make sudden changes when unexpected circumstances arise
  • Initiative – The ability to think independently and make responsible decisions, without asking management for guidance
  • Motivation – The ability to stay driven and focused to achieve targets, especially during difficult times
  • Organisation – Putting systems and order in place to ensure routine tasks are carried out efficiently
  • Planning– Preparing how tasks will be delivered, putting processes into place
  • Problem solving– Dealing with situations that pose threats to the running of your organisation, and providing solutions to combat them
  • Reliability – Being trusted to complete tasks and deliver results without being checked on
  • Team work– Working collaboratively with colleagues and external individuals to achieve common goals
  • Time management – Being aware of time limitations ensuring deadlines are met

 

Quick tip: Try to show your soft skills, rather than simply stating them.

Instead of writing “I am a good written communicator” give examples of how you apply your communication skills in the workplace, such as; “Providing management with accurate email updates on team activity

 

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Admin skills

Admin skills

Efficient administration is vital to the smooth running of an organisation, so whether you work directly in admin or not, you are likely to need some administration skills.

  • Business software – Being a confident user of business IT tools such as Outlook, Gmail, Excel, Windows etc.
  • Business support – Assisting senior business figures with ad hoc tasks such as note taking, diary management etc.
  • Communications – Creating and distributing messages internally to keep colleagues informed of news and changes within the organisation (usually via email)
  • Data analysis – Taking raw data sets and using the information to spot trends and make predictions
  • Data entry – Inputting information into databases to keep organisation records up to date
  • Diary management – Organising schedules for a team or senior staff members
  • Document management – Creating, updating and formatting important business documents such as staff lists or HR records
  • Email management – Managing the organisation and distribution of emails for a company, department or individual
  • Post distribution – Collecting incoming post and delivering to relevant people or teams
  • Process management – Ensuring admin processes are completed correctly, such as customer onboarding or invoice input.
  • Query handling – Providing accurate answers to questions from internal staff, suppliers and customers
  • Reporting – Creating and distributing reports containing business figures such as sales, profits and costs
  • Typing – Creating Word documents, emails and other typed information

 

 

Creative skills

Creative skills

Whether you work directly in a creative role (graphic design etc.) or not, creativity can play vital role across any business, helping to drive marketing initiatives or solve internal problems.

  • Attending briefs – Meeting with clients to understand their requirements and asking effective questions to extract the information needed to carry out the work correctly
  • Brainstorming – Meeting with team members to discuss new ideas for a project – contributing ideas and providing feedback
  • Branding – Contributing to a company’s look and feel by providing input on logos, copy, product design etc.
  • Designing – Creating effective looks and functions for anything from advertising material to buildings
  • Idea generation – Thinking of new approaches for marketing campaigns, office designs, company slogans and more

 

CV builder

 

Customer service skills

Customer service skills

In any customer facing role, strong customer service skills are essential if you want to keep customers happy and maintain a good reputation for your employer.

  • Complaint resolution – Dealing with complaints from customers and providing solutions to rectify their issues
  • Customer service – The ability to deal with customers on a regular basis to fulfil their requirements in line with business goals
  • Identifying opportunities – Listening to customer and spotting opportunities to recommend products or services
  • Meeting and greeting – Welcoming customers and making them feel comfortable, whether in person, via phone or email
  • Product/service knowledge – Having a solid understanding of company products and services in order to explain features and benefits to customers
  • Promoting – Making customers aware of offers and deals to promote sales
  • Query handling – Answering question from customers and providing  accurate answers and advice
  • Transaction processing – Taking payments for goods via cash or card and providing customers with receipts

 

 

Education & training skills

Education skills

Whilst education skills are most frequently used in teaching roles, they can also be applied utilised in business within areas such as training or learning & development.

  • Assessments – Evaluating student’s ability and learnings in exams and observations
  • Coaching – Working one-to-one with students, providing advice and guidance to support their development
  • Lesson planning – Preparing how individual lessons will be delivered to students, including topics and lesson structure
  • Performance tracking – Monitoring student performance over long-term periods
  • Resource planning – Preparing learning resources required for lessons such as handouts, tests and checklists
  • Teaching – Delivering lessons to students, ensuring information is correctly received and handling questions

 

 

Finance skills

Finance skills

The following roles apply to finance and accounting roles, or any roles which involve an element of financial responsibility.

  • Account preparation – Preparing company financial accounts for public records and management
  • Auditing – Checking company accounts for anomalies and reporting findings
  • Bookkeeping – Recording company income and expenditure for records and taxation purposes
  • Budgeting – Managing funds on behalf of an employer and allocating spending effectively and responsibly
  • Cost saving – Using multiple methods to reduce employer spending whilst maintaining or even improving standards
  • Credit control – Managing records of customers owing money to the business and communicating with them to ensure prompt payment
  • Financial reporting – Creating reports to inform stakeholders on varying aspects of business performance
  • Forecasting – Using past data, trends and analysis to predict future revenue streams for products and services
  • Investing – Placing company funds into assets such as stocks and property in order to generate profits
  • Payroll – Calculating and processing staff payment and ensuring correct amounts of tax are levied
  • Profit and loss responsibility – Overall responsibility for the profitability of a business or business unit
  • Spending – Purchasing goods and services for an employer, ensuring the price is beneficial for the business
  • Taxation – Handling tax issues such as advising on tax saving methods and submitting tax returns to HMRC

 

 

IT skills

IT skills

Technology is present in the vast majority of workplaces nowadays, so  even if you don’t have a technical IT role, you will probably still need some IT skills to perform it well.

  • Cyber security – Defending networks and websites from malicious attacks using modern defence tools and techniques
  • Data analysis – Using large data sets to spot trends and provide valuable insights to business leaders
  • Database administration – The management and maintenance of a set of data within a company database
  • DevelopmentCoding using programming languages to develop web sites, pages, or applications
  • Installation – setting up new hardware or software systems and tailoring them to business needs
  • IT support – Dealing with IT issues from employees or customers and providing workable solutions
  • Programming – writing sets of rules to inform computer systems to carry out automated tasks
  • Recommending – Assessing an organisation’s IT requirements and suggesting suitable technology solutions
  • Requirements gathering – Speaking with colleagues to collect an understanding of what they require from an IT system before a build or upgrade
  • Software/tool knowledge – The ability to use software or tools specific to your role such as Microsoft Excel, Outlook, or Photoshop
  • Testing – Trying out features of a system to ensure they work before going live
  • Troubleshooting – Diagnosing issues with hardware and software to determine causes and suggests fixes

 

 

Management skills

Management skills

Whether you manage a team of people or simply have to manage your own time or company resources, management skills should be present in your CV.

  • Delegation – Alleviating suitable responsibilities to junior staff to aid their progression whilst freeing up your time to perform more demanding activities
  • Goal setting – Planning targets for a business, team or individuals in order to meet long-term objectives
  • Leadership – Providing direction to staff on an ongoing basis to ensure they perform at the best of their abilities and achieve organisational goals
  • Leading meetings – Creating agendas for staff meetings and directing the topics and flow
  • Motivating – Instilling staff with confidence and enthusiasm to carry out their jobs effectively
  • Process improvement – Identifying under-performing procedures within the business and changing them to become more efficient
  • Resource management – Allocating roles to staff and setting time scales for tasks to be completed
  • Staff development – Ensuring that staff receive sufficient progression throughout their career in order to gain promotions and grow professionally
  • Strategy – Developing a long-term plan to achieve overall business goals
  • Training – Teaching staff vital skills and system knowledge to improve their ability to perform in their roles

 

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Marketing skills

Marketing skills

Marketing is the process of making customers aware of a service or product and moving them closer to a sale – so marketing skills are extremely valuable to employers.

  • Advertising – Buying paid media placements, creating images and text, driving customers to websites, shops, restaurants etc.
  • Campaign management – Devising and carrying out marketing campaigns through various channels, measuring performance
  • Content creation – Creating marketing content in the forms of articles, videos, landing pages, podcasts and more
  • CopywritingWriting engaging content to inform, entertain and persuade customers to buy
  • CRM tools – Knowledge and confident use of popular Customer Relationship Management tools
  • Email marketing – Creating email campaigns to build relationships with customers and generate leads and sales
  • Market research – Investigating audiences and buying trends to determine demand for products and services
  • Outreach – Contacting potential partners to promote content and suggest mutual deals
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – The process of driving organic traffic to websites by making them search engine friendly
  • Social media management – Managing social profiles of organisation accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • UX (User experience) – Optimising web pages to make them easy for users to navigate and lead them towards making a purchase.

 

 

Project management skills

Project management skills

Project management is prevalent across all industries, and even if you aren’t a dedicated project manager, you could still find yourself supporting or leading projects in your role.

  • Delivery – Ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget whilst producing all of the pre-determined goals
  • Gaining buy-in – Persuading senior business figures to back initiatives and provide permissions and funding
  • LeadershipManaging people and guiding them towards the completion of a common goal
  • Presenting business cases – Building strong cases to get sign-off for projects, explaining the business benefits to senior management
  • Risk management – Identifying potential project risks and putting procedures in place to minimise their impact on project delivery
  • Scheduling – Planning a succession of activities and monitoring progress to ensure the overall project is delivered on time
  • Stakeholder management – Managing the expectation of senior business figures and keeping them updated on project progress

 

 

Sales skills

Sales skills

Private sector business are driven by sales, so sales skills are vital in the workplace – even if you are not in a direct sales position.

Some of these skills are also valuable when dealing with colleagues in internally also.

  • Influencing – Persuading others to agree with your opinions and back your ideas
  • Lead generation – Providing a business with a pipeline of potential customers who are likely to buy products or services
  • Negotiation – Holding discussions with colleagues and clients to reach favourable outcomes and agreements
  • Networking – Growing your list of personal contacts by seeking out valuable connections and building relationships with them
  • Presenting – Delivering presentations to clients to explain the benefits of products and services
  • Relationship management – Building and maintaining relationships with customers (or even colleagues) to foster positive outcomes for employers
  • Sales closing – Generating sales of products and services by obtaining final agreements from clients
  • Target achievement – The ability to reach and exceed targets set by your employer (usually sales targets but could cover other areas)

 

 

How to add skills to your CV

Now you have a good idea of the types of skills that need to be present in your CV (curriculum vitae).

But, how you demonstrate those skills can make the difference between a winning CV, and a losing one.

 

Soft skills VS hard skills

Skill is defined as the ability to do something well, or having expertise in a particular area.

So, it’s understandable that employers want to hire candidates with plenty of skills.

At a high level, skills can firstly be categorised into 2 main categories;

Type 1) Role specific skills – also called hard skills

And

Type 2) Generic skills – also called soft skills or personal skills.

 

Types of skills for your CV

 

Role specific or hard skills are specific profession-related skills that are needed to carry out particular job functions (e.g. budgeting for finance roles or negotiation for sales roles)

Generic skills or soft skills are common skills that are required for most roles, such as communication, team work and problem solving.

Now that you understand the main types of skills available to use in your CV, it’s important to understand how to add them both to your CV

Many modern roles will require you to have skills from more than one of these categories.

For example, a sales role could require skills from sales, customer service, marketing and management + a range of soft skills

Always research your target roles thoroughly to determine which in-demand skills you need to include in your CV.

 

How to add hard skills to your CV

It’s crucial to highlight role specific skills in your CV because they are normally what recruiters are briefed to look for above all else.

For example, a hiring manager will often tell a recruiter…

“I need you to find me somebody with 5 years sales experience who can generate leads, build relationships, lead negotiations and close deals”

 

They won’t usually give a soft skill brief like this…

“I need somebody who is a well organised, team-player with good communication skills”

 

Although those soft skills may be needed for the role, they are needed for most roles, so they won’t help recruiters find the right candidate – that brief could be applicable to thousands of jobs.

 

Role specific skills are so important to your CV because …

 

a) Recruiters search for hard skills only on job site CV databases, internal CV databases and LinkedIn

Therefore, the more relevant role specific skills you have in your CV, the more searches you will appear in.

The more searches you appear, the more times your CV will be opened – which will increase your chances of being called in for interviews.

 

Skill search

 

b) Recruiters scan your CV for hard skills when they open your CV

When a recruiter opens your CV, they will firstly look to pick out some of the most important hard skills they’ve been asked to look for (sales, negotiation, deal closing etc.)

Initially they won’t be looking for soft skills like planning and organisation – that will come later in the screening process.

 

So these two reasons make it vital for you to pack your CV with role specific skills, and make them easy to spot

So, how do you do this?

 

1) Add hard skills to the top quarter of your CV

CV top quarter

The first few seconds of a recruiter or hiring manager opening your CV are crucial to the success of your CV.

If a busy recruiter with hundreds of CVs to review doesn’t see the skills they are looking for in the top quarter of your CV, they may close it down without even reading it in full.

So pack the area above the fold in your CV (the areas visible without scrolling down) full of in demand hard skills – to create a powerful first impression, like in the CV below with skills highlighted in yellow.

 

Example CV profile

 

Quick tip: If you struggle with spelling and grammar, try a free grammar checking tool, like Grammarly.

Add hard skills to your profile or personal statement, and your core skills section.

As always, research your target roles thoroughly to determine which of your skills should be featured at the top of your CV.

See our best CV templates for more examples of CV profiles.

 

 

2) Add hard skills to your roles… with results

To show hiring managers how you apply your skills in the workplace, you need to weave them into your roles descriptions.

But simply listing the skills you use will not be enough.

You need to explain how you apply them, and what positive results they achieve for employers, clients and colleagues.

For example,

 

Don’t just write:

“Negotiating with customers”

 

Expand to say,

“Negotiating with customers to increase purchase values and boost monthly revenue for the business”

 

Expanding to show your results tells employers how valuable your skills are, and what impact you could bring to a new workplace.

Check out this example CV role description for inspiration.

 

CV role description

 

CV builder

 

 

How to add soft skills to your CV

Generic/soft skills are a little more difficult to express in your CV because they need to be implied rather than stated.

If you fill your CV up with terms that plainly state your soft skills, no recruiters will be able to understand what you do.

For example, look at the CV profile below.

 

Cliches in CV

 

It’s impossible to establish what this person does without any hard skills in the profile.

They could be a doctor, pilot, accountant, footballer…. Anything

 

Also, as I mentioned earlier, recruiters aren’t searching for soft skills, so you want to keep them to a minimum and save space for your hard skills.

 

So, how do you demonstrate your soft skills without simply writing them down on your CV?

You show them, rather than tell them.

 

So, rather than simply writing…

 

“I am organised”

“I am motivated”

“I am a team player”

 

(Tired phrases that recruiters have seen thousands of times and are meaningless on their own)

 

Instead, you should prove that you are an organised, motivated team player – by giving real life examples of this in your role responsibilities and achievements.

Like this…

  • Leading a team of 10 to generate a target pipeline of leads over 3 months with regular check ins, progress updates, and supporting under-performers

 

By writing a sentence like this, you prove a multitude of soft skills such as motivation and team work, (without having to write them down) and demonstrate your role specific skills at the same time.

Junior candidate tip: If you have little or no work experience, you can use your hobbies and interests section to demonstrate soft skills. For example captaining a sports team can show elements of team work, leadership and motivation.

 


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Key skills for your CV

Adding skills to your CV is absolutely essential if you want to get noticed and land job interviews.

But you must ensure that you understand the core skill requirements of your target roles so you can reflect them throughout your CV.

It’s also important to understand the difference between hard skills and soft skills, and how each should be added to your CV.

Hard skills are arguably more important to get down in writing, whereas soft skills should be implied throughout your role descriptions.

You can also check out our sample CVs for more inspiration, and our cover letter guide to ensure your CV gets opened.

Good luck with the job hunt!