What Are the Most Important Skills to Put on a CV?

For a recruiter or hiring manager, the skills section on a CV is vital. It provides an overview of you, where you’re at in your career and how competent you are.

When you create your CV, you should prioritise both this and the work experience sections as they’ll be the first port of call for a reader.

This is why it’s so important to create a skills section that is concise, easy-to-understand and comprehensive – you want to demonstrate your entire skillset in the context of the role you’re applying for.

Below, we explore the most important skills to put on a CV and how you might demonstrate your aptitude.

What are generally good skills to put on a CV?

It’s always a good idea to have a generic CV template that you can then tailor to the role you’re applying for. Fundamentally, your CV is a real-time document that evolves alongside your career and highlights your entire skill set. When you apply for a role, however, you can use the job description to tailor your CV, prioritising the skills that an employer is looking for.

Think about it like this – you wouldn’t use the same CV for an engineering role and a project manager role in the same business. You may be able to do both competently and obviously there’s transferable skills between the two but essentially, the CV has to prioritise slightly different skills.

This is why it’s a good idea to include several universal skills on your CV and then leave space for more specific skills that you can swap in and out depending on the role you’re applying for.

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What are the most important skills to put on a CV?

When you’re building out the skills section of your CV, there are several transferable skills you can highlight regardless of where you’re at in your career. In no particular order, the most important skills to put on a CV are:

• Interpersonal skills

• Leadership skills

• Communication skills

• Active listening skills

• Foreign languages

• Problem-solving skills

• Time management skills

• Computer 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.

1. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills relate to the skills you use when you interact with a colleague, a customer or a client. You make use of interpersonal skills throughout your entire career, particularly if you’re working on a collaborative project, facing conflict in the workplace or conveying ideas to the wider business. Having great interpersonal skills is particularly important in a team-based environment, where you’re regularly interacting with other members of the team or even other teams on a daily basis.

When it comes to highlighting interpersonal skills on your CV, you’ll want to briefly highlight how you work as part of a team, examples of how you collaborated to solve a problem or how you led certain projects.

2. Leadership skills

Having and demonstrating great leadership skills puts you in good stead with employers even if you’re not applying for a management role. If you can demonstrate times when you’ve led, you’ll show that you can be a beneficial member of the team during collaborative projects or during times of pressure.

When you highlight leadership skills on your CV, you’ll want to show strong decision making, the ability to delegate tasks or reassign tasks based on aptitude, the ability to communicate effectively and how you can be a focal point of a team even without being the manager.

If you’re applying for a management position, it’s critical to demonstrate strong leadership skills. Here you’ll also want to highlight your empathy, how you support the wider team you’re leading and other soft skills you have that complement your leadership skill set.

3. Communication skills

You’ve been using and developing communication skills throughout your life, even if you didn’t realise it. In the workplace, communication skills relate to how you give and receive information, how you respond to feedback and the interpersonal relationships you build during your career. Having a strong communication skillset is important throughout your career and can make progression much easier, especially when it comes to dealing with key stakeholders such as senior management. 

When you’re highlighting communication skills on a CV, take the time to differentiate between your verbal and non-verbal skills. You might want to highlight times when you’ve given or taken onboard constructive criticism, examples of active listening or even highlighting strengths such as public speaking or presenting.

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4. Active listening skills

Being a good listener isn’t just good for personal development, it also makes your professional development much easier. During your time at work, you should always be thinking about how you can utilise active listening with colleagues or clients.

Active listening is an umbrella term for the ability to focus on a conversation – understanding what’s being said and responding with thoughtful questions. This covers both verbal and non-verbal cues, such as consistent eye-contact, two-way conversations and generally being empathetic to the other person’s viewpoint.

While active listening overlaps with communication skills, the two are mutually exclusive and fundamentally, active listening supports great communication and interpersonal relationships.

5. Foreign languages

If you speak multiple languages, make sure to highlight this on your CV. In a sector that is truly global – such as renewable energy – the ability to speak multiple languages can open up exclusive opportunities. Aside from the obvious communication benefits, speaking a foreign language also demonstrates great dedication and initiative, which are fantastic qualities for employers. 

When you come to highlight foreign language skills on a CV, provide context wherever possible. Whether you’re a native speaker or fluent in the language, try to make it as clear as you can for the reader.

6. Problem solving skills

At some point in your career, you’ll face challenges. The important part is how you identify and deal with these problems. Problem-solving is quite a broad term and will be specific to the sector and business you’re working for.

While problem-solving skills sometimes feel like a vague concept, you can provide context for the reader by highlighting a specific example. If you can demonstrate attention-to-detail, thinking outside of the box and the ability to apply ‘common sense’, you’re on your way to highlighting problem-solving skills.

7. Time management skills

Time management is a broad term that applies to both punctuality and how you effectively structure your time. Great time management facilitates organisation and productivity, both of which are critical for a business to consider. You may use time management skills when you’re juggling multiple tasks or working on a larger project with set milestones and deadlines.

If you’re looking to develop time management skills, it’s equally as important to understand how you work and how the business you’re working for operates. As an individual, it’s up to you to be organised and consciously consider how you use your time and how that may impact a team or project.

Time management is one of the most transferable skills on this list and relates to a wide variety of roles across multiple sectors.

8. Computer skills

In an increasingly digital world, demonstrating a level of competency with apps or software is vital. While it’s a common expectation that you’ll have experience using entry-level software such as email or word processors, if you have experience in cloud-based solutions, digital filing or even more specialised software, highlight this on your CV.

When demonstrating computer skills, be specific about the software you know and the level you operate on, as not all businesses use or even need the same software.

9. Technical skills

This section is last because it’s the most specific. The technical skills you demonstrate is entirely dependent on the industry you work in but at some point, it’s critical to highlight any technical skills you have.

These are generally known as ‘hard skills’ and may warrant an entirely separate section within your CV, particularly if you have a larger skill set you want to demonstrate.

Everything from Photoshop to solar panel maintenance is a technical skill – it all depends on the business.

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