How to write a CV: Key Skills

Updated: Apr 26, 2020

Are you looking for help to write a CV?

In a series of short articles and related videos, My CV Guide will offer quick and easy tips covering each section of a CV in turn. This is free CV advice that is easy to apply and will strengthen your CV in identifiable and meaningful ways. It goes beyond a lot of the generic CV advice you may have already seen by offering hints and tips you probably haven't thought of before.

This is the fourth article in the series and focuses on Key Skills.

The Purpose

Much like key achievements, identifying key skills within a CV are deemed to be valuable by both applicants and reviewers. They allow a quick and easy understanding of the key skills and abilities that an applicant possesses and would therefore bring to a role. This can be certification or accreditations; particular system or regulation knowledge or specific areas of experience and ability that are in-depth enough to represent an area of expertise.

Top CV Tips

Be specific

Being specific when it comes to key skills is important. It makes them far more impactful. Failing to specify the skill can result in it not actually being communicated effectively. Consider being a good communicator as an example. It’s a critical skill for a number of roles but what does that actually mean? What are you communicating? How are you communicating it and who to? The volume and variety of potential answers is huge so a level of detail has to be provided to make it meaningful.

Use recognisable language

What will relate to the reader? What will they be looking for? Using that language and terminology will jump off the page. This doesn’t mean trying to match buzz words, but understanding the terms that will be used and which are most relevant to your industry or profession. This could be in the form of accreditations, systems or processes, but use widely recognised descriptions or titles rather than any in-house or niche language that wouldn’t be as relatable to a wider audience.

Do not cover what would be considered givens

Highlighting skills as key that a reader would consider to be a given is underwhelming to read and is detrimental to creating a good impression. You could be incredibly punctual and very hard working, but wouldn’t that be expected of anyone in a role? Don’t sell your greatest skills as abilities that would be expected. It can suggest that you have limited else to offer.

Only include what really matters.

Whether you have an extensive number of key skills or are trying to bolster a list you are worried is limited, only include what really matters. It is better to have a few really relevant and meaningful key skills listed than additional attributes that don’t add value. What is it about you that you would be bringing to the role that would make interviewing you a must and will set you apart from others? That is what to include and nothing more.

Good luck writing your CV and communicating your Key Skills in such a way that your ability to do the job is unquestionable.

For the other articles in this series, visit the My CV Guide Blog and for in-depth advice and guidance on how to write a CV, take a look at our downloadable CV Guide. Professional CV writing and CV review options are also available through our CV Review and CV Consultation services.

Any questions at all? Take a look at answers to common CV questions on our free CV advice page and don't hesitate to get in touch at anytime. Whatever your CV needs, My CV Guide is here to help.

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