The skills section of a CV is vital as it demonstrates your competency for a potential role in a quick and easy-to-understand format.
This part of the document should highlight your key skills, including both ‘hard’ technical skills and ‘soft’ skills such as communication, time management and problem-solving.
The skills section should highlight your ability to work, all within the context of the role you’re applying for.
Below, we explore the top ten best skills to put on a CV and the importance of having skills on your CV.
What are good skills to put on a CV?
When you’re writing a CV, you’ll want to base it on two things: your general aptitude and what the job description is asking for. While it’s fine to have a CV template that includes your latest work experience, personal statement and different types of skills, you’ll also want to tailor the document to each position you apply for.
Think about it this way: you wouldn’t demonstrate the same skills to get a graphic design job as you would to get a construction job. Your CV should be a flexible document that highlights your ability to meet job requirements.
To make your time easier, this is why we suggest including skills that are universal such as attention to detail or communication skills – every role makes use of skills like this.
Top 10 best skills to put on a CV
Here are the top 10 best skills to put on a CV – in no particular order – based on their overall usefulness across multiple job roles and industries.
• Communication skills
• Foreign languages
• Interpersonal skills
• Problem-solving skills
• Leadership skills
• Time management skills
• Computer skills
• Active listening skills
• Mentoring skills
• Technical skills
With these in mind, let’s go into more detail about what these skills mean and how they’re used in the workplace.
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1. Communication skills
We use communication skills every day and they’re a vital part of succeeding in the workplace. They’re mainly used when you give or receive information such as ideas, feelings or updates on work. Having strong communication skills is important at each stage of your career, particularly if you enter a management role, where you’re constantly communicating instructions or feedback.
Communication skills can be broken down into several forms including both verbal and non-verbal cues. You might demonstrate your aptitude for communication by highlighting strengths such as public speaking, job interviewing, active listening, written communication such as emails or examples of constructive criticism.
2. Foreign languages
If you speak multiple languages, this is incredibly important to show on your CV. Aside from the strength of being able to communicate with people from different backgrounds, having a foreign language shows good dedication and initiative skills. Depending on the role that you’re applying for – especially if they’re a global or multi-national business – speaking a foreign language will often help you stand out from the crowd.
Remember, when you’re highlighting your foreign language skills on a CV, provide context for how fluent you are. If you’re a native speaker, tell the reader. If you can speak the language but struggle with reading and writing in it, this is just as important to highlight.
3. Interpersonal skills
Interpersonal skills are used when you interact with other people – whether that’s colleagues or customers. You may use interpersonal skills during collaborative projects, times of conflict in the workplace or simply when you’re communicating throughout the day. Having good interpersonal skills is important in any team environment but is practically necessary for working in customer service.
You might demonstrate your interpersonal skills by briefly highlighting your ability to work well with others, solve problems as part of a team and even lead discussions or projects. Interpersonal skills are closely linked with communication skills.
4. Problem solving skills
Every job in the world faces problems. If you’re able to identify and correct these problems, you’ll quickly become a valued employee. Problem-solving skills can help an employee determine the source of a problem and formulate a solution. It’s important to remember that problem-solving skills can be both broad and very specific. Certain problems may require technical skills while other challenges might require the use of soft skills such as active listening.
While problem-solving sometimes feels like a vague concept, it typically utilises practical skills such as attention to detail, collaboration, patience, research, effective communication and common sense.
5. Leadership skills
You don’t have to be a manager to show good leadership skills but they’ll certainly help you progress your career. Good leadership skills include the ability to make decisions, delegate tasks, communicate effectively and steer teams to success. A good leader has to be empathetic, communicative, organised and not afraid to make decisions – whether that’s based on hard data or feeling.
When it comes to working in a management position, it’s always better if a manager has a mix of technical skills and soft skills. A manager should have the necessary technical skills to operate in their industry but also project management skills and the ability to delegate, which are harder to develop.
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6. Time management skills
When we say time management skills we don’t just mean punctuality, although that is vital in any role. Time management can also relate to goal setting, organisation and prioritisation. You’ll use time management skills when you’re completing multiple tasks or a larger project that has deadlines. You’ll use time management skills when you’re maintaining a work-life balance.
A major part of developing time management skills is understanding your individual working style, how your team works and how your company operates. Your level of organisation can also impact your time management skills, allowing you to better allocate your time to complete priority tasks.
While time management is more prevalent in roles across sectors such as professional services – where you’re often juggling multiple tasks, stakeholders and teams – it’s a skill that can be used in any role.
7. Computer skills
Increasingly, understanding the fundamentals of using a computer, smartphone or tablet is vital. It’s a common expectation now that you’ll understand how to use email, digital filing and cloud-based solutions such as Google Drive or Dropbox, since this is how companies operate.
Depending on the role, you may also have to understand word processing, presentation or spreadsheet software. This is particularly true in administration roles, where the entire process is often digitised and less reliant on physical media.
When you’re demonstrating computer skills, remember to highlight any experience or competency you have in specific software applications, as businesses may not all use the same.
8. Active listening skills
Active listening skills are always useful, particularly for employees who are just starting their careers. Active listening is the ability to focus, understand what is being said and if necessary, respond with well-thought-out questions. This can include both verbal and non-verbal cues such as maintaining eye contact, note-taking and asking questions.
This skill feeds into both communication and interpersonal skills but can help show colleagues, management or customers that you’re engaged in what they’re saying and interested in the task at hand.
9. Mentoring skills
Often considered part of leadership skills, the ability to effectively mentor someone is incredibly valuable in the workplace. Being a good mentor can help develop a colleague’s career, making them more productive and rounding out their skill set. For smaller teams, this can be a great way of providing extra training or upskilling an employee that would otherwise require formal training.
Mentoring can be an extremely fulfilling experience for the mentor as well as those they’re looking after. Related skills include active listening, attention to detail and problem-solving. As a mentor, you might notice aspects of work another colleague is enjoying more or better understand their working style. This is information you can use to provide a better overall experience.
10. Technical skills
We’ve left this section till last as it’s heavily dependent on the industry you’re working in but obviously, you’ll want to mention your technical aptitude.
Technical skills can take many forms and may include the ability to properly use certain pieces of software or even just physically do something that another employee may not know how to do.
Everything from Photoshop to plastering is a technical skill – it just depends on where you’re working.