Key Skills that all CVs Need
A CV ought to demonstrate all of your skills. Ideally, you will be able to link your key skills to workplace experience, but if this is not possible then try to cite ways in which you have used them outside of employment situations.
Most key skills fall into one of three categories:
- Transferable skills. These are skills which have been acquired in one setting but can be used in many different sorts of businesses.
- Job-related skills. These skills are specific to a certain line of employment or trade and may require you to have received training to perform.
- Adaptive skills. These sorts of aptitudes are sometimes less obvious and harder to quantify because they rely on personality traits rather than learning.
Let's look at each of these in turn and see how you might address them in your CV.
Everyone has transferable skills even if they don't recognise them as such. Sometimes, your current employer won't make it obvious that the skills you have acquired with them are transferable because they don't necessarily want you to realise how employable you are elsewhere.
Typical transferable skills you may already possess are:
- Reading or writing related skills. This means being able to digest written information and present it in written form as well.
- Computer skills. If you have aptitude with computers and common office programmes then consider this to be a transferable skill.
- Management experience. If you have managed people before then you could transfer this experience to benefit another type of employer.
- Commercial skills. People who can negotiate and handle figures like turnover and gross profit often possess the sort of business acumen which is sought after in many organisations.
- Deadline success. Being able to work to deadlines is something that doesn't happen in all jobs, but if you are used to it then this is a key transferable skill desired in many companies.
- Of course there are other types of transferable skill. Think of them as aptitudes that can function equally well in multiple industrial sectors. Mention them in your CV as you have picked them up throughout your employment history.
Job-related key skills
More specific than transferable skills, job-related ones can get you work with another employer who needs them. Despite this, transferable skills won't necessarily be of use to employers outside of the sector you already work in.
Examples of job-related skills are:
- Brick laying. Although many construction firms need brick laying skills, it is unlikely you will be able to use this skill to find work outside of the building sector.
- Nursing skills. Being a qualified nurse shows you have certain transferable skills like being caring or organised, but nursing itself is a job-related skill which only really works in the healthcare sector.
- Mechanical engineering. Being able to work and repair engines is a job-related skill. It may mean you can transfer into related sectors but probably only within similar roles unless you have other transferable skills to offer.
- Accountancy qualifications. Bookkeeping and accountancy roles are on offer within a wide range of organisations which presents plenty of job choice. However, this job-related skill narrows down that choice to certain types of jobs only.
Although there are nearly as many job-related skills as there are jobs, try not to think of them as restricting what you can do. If you do feel trapped by your job-related skills and have trouble breaking out into new areas of work, then acquire some new ones by enrolling on a training course.
Remember that many job-related skills imply transferable ones so they are always worth mentioning. It is best to add any courses or qualifications that are pertinent to your job-related skills in education section of your CV.
Ideal skills for CV personal statements or even a cover letter, adaptive skills can also be listed in your work experience if you prefer. Think about the sort of personality you have when discussing your adaptive skills. Some of the key ones to look out for include:
- Team working. Not everyone is a team player, but team working is an important adaptive skill that many employers are looking for.
- Loyalty. Been in your job for a long time and seen it through thick and thin? This is an adaptive skill to mention on your CV.
- Positivity. If you are the sort of person who sees the glass as half full and not half empty, then this shows your positivity. Employers tend to favour positive people so mention this as an adaptive skill.
- Creativity. Some jobs cry out for creative people. If you paint, play music or are even good at telling jokes, then this may show off your creative skills.
- Adaptability. Being flexible is something we all need in the workplace from time to time, but some are better at it than others so don't discount your adaptability as a skill.
- Tenacity. Taking ownership of problems and seeing them through is a key skill in many organisations. If you can demonstrate this from your past career, then include it on your CV.
- Although adaptive skills may seem like the least important ones to mention because they are not specific to the job you are applying for, they can often mark you out from another candidate. Don't overlook the importance of your blend of adaptive skills which is as unique as you are.
Be proud of the skills that you have and see each and every one as a way to progress in your career.