The five skills your CV must have for success

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Trying to figure out what an employer wants to see on your CV could feel like an impossible task, and although you’ve researched the company and scrutinised the job advert, you still might not cover everything.

However, there are 5 essential elements that an employer would always want to see on your CV, and having this insider knowledge could make a huge difference to your chances of getting an interview.

Far too many people focus upon the basics when it comes to writing a CV, and don’t consider what the employer would expect to see – complete each section, list all the previous tasks and responsibilities, add a few references and so on.

A generic CV like this just won’t cut it any more, and if you want to stand out you need to know the five skills your CV must have for success – but what are they?

1. Industry knowledge and commercial awareness 

No matter what role you’re applying for, an employer will always want to see a CV that clearly shows the candidate understands the business, the industry, the customer, and the product or service being sold. Having that commercial awareness is not enough however, as your CV is the one that needs to represent it.

A huge number of applicants apply for a job with little to no regard for the commercial awareness that needs to show on their CV – even if they’ve been working in the industry for years. If however you don’t have a lot of experience and knowledge in a particular role and industry, then there are lots of ways you can gain it.

Read the company’s website and look further into the service or product they offer. How do they advertise, and who do they advertise to? What are their goals? Also, get a feel for the type of industry jargon that’s being used so you can consider applying this to your own CV.

2. Good team working skills 

You’d be hard pressed to find any job that doesn’t require some interaction with a colleague, a team, or even another department. Most jobs require an employee to have good team working skills as a minimum, and you have to show that you have this within your CV if you want to impress.

To show an employer that you are a good team player, check back over all your school projects and work experience to see all the occasions you had to work well as part of a team. On your CV you should talk about successful projects that were only achieved because of the team’s efforts, and be careful not to try and take all the credit.

There is plenty of space on your CV to show off your own skills, but when it comes to working as part of a team you need to demonstrate the team’s success with results and stats. Don’t fall into the trap of simply stating that you work well in a team, as you always need to back up those claims on your CV to add credibility.

Providing examples of your team working skills doesn’t just have to come from your work experience, and any other outside activities can help you prove your case. Whether it’s working for a charity or your local sports team, these could all be great examples of your team working abilities.

3. Communication skills 

Being able to communicate effectively with your customers or your colleagues is extremely important, and should be shown that you have the right skills on your CV. An employer would always want to see that you have good communication skills – both written and verbal.

How you show this on your CV is important, and as before you need to avoid making cliché statements about your skills without actually having any examples, including scenarios and results. Your work experience section is the best place to showcase all of your skills, but listing the tasks may not be enough.

If the role you’re applying for will require a lot of customer interaction, then proving that you have great communication skills is vital if you want to get an interview. Show examples of how you helped a customer in the past, dealt with a customer complaint, or solved a difficult problem. The message you are looking to convey to an employer is that you have a proven track record of providing excellent customer service.

For a role that heavily requires a lot of written communication, there are lots of ways to show this on your CV. In fact, your CV itself is the first step in proving that you have the written skills the employer is looking for.

Creating a fantastic CV that is well presented, formatted correctly, contains all the expected sections and has no errors, is the best way to make a great first impression on not just your written skills, but your overall chances of getting an interview.

4. Organisational skills 

Every employee has to be organised and be able to manage their own tasks and deadlines efficiently. Being organised doesn’t just mean you tidy your desk everyday, and there are lots of other aspects of work that require good organisation skills.

Provide examples of your great time management, diary management, hitting deadlines, writing reports, and so on. All of these are fantastic ways to add credibility to your CV and prove to an employer that they don’t have to worry about your organisational skills.

An employer always favours an organised team member as they don’t have to constantly be managed. Someone who can organise themselves, problem solve, work well under pressure, and constantly meet deadlines is a very valuable employee indeed.

5. Specific job related skills 

Every role requires a set of specific skills in order to carry it out effectively, and these skills will be clearly identified on the job advert. One of the most frustrating parts for the hiring manager when reading through the hundreds of applications they receive is trying to match up those skills that they want to see, as they can often be hidden within a CV.

Don’t make this common mistake, and instead ensure that your CV clearly highlights the exact skills they are looking for. Use a ‘core skills’ section near the top of the first page so the hiring manager can instantly see you have what they’re looking for – tailor your CV to the role and make every sentence count.

Your main goal when writing a CV is to present the employer with an easy to read application indicating that you have the exact skills, qualifications and experience they’ve advertised for. Don’t force them to read between the lines, and instead custom write your CV with the employer in mind.


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