Put your skills to use, on your CV.

Searching a job has become quite a nerve-wracking task. This can be attributed to the rising competition in the job market. With the addition of more and more qualified people each year to the existing talent pool, the candidate choices available to employers for each job vacancy has increased immensely. The challenges are different for experienced employees and far graver for those who have been laid off.

Whatever be the situation, it is always the job seeker who suffers the most. For them, it is important to somehow prove their worth to the prospective employers. Really, the best any job seeker can do is to utilise the one tool they have full control over in the best possible manner: their CV.

Unlike resumes, CVs offer a lot of scope for highlighting one's capabilities in a detailed manner. That's why job seekers spend too much time making their CVs perfect. Although employers appreciate a well-written and error-free CV, however, they are also interested in knowing what sets a job candidate apart. This differentiating factor can be taken care by the individual's skills. However, the most difficult task is deciding what skills exactly to add to one's CV.

If you face the same dilemma, here are a few tips on deciding what skills to add, and how to add them in order to leave your prospective employers impressed.

1. Note down all your skills

The first step in deciding upon which skills to add to your CV is to list down all the skills you have. Make this list on a separate sheet of paper or word document under two categories: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills include those skills which you acquire through education, training, etc., and are crucial in performing your job.

Soft skills have more to do with one's personality traits and qualities. Write down everything that you think you are good at.

At the end of the exercise, chances are you will have a long list. Of course, not all the skills will go on your CV but keep this document safely with yourself for future.

2. Read the vacancy description carefully

Your next step should be to carefully read the job description of the position for which you wish to apply. Now make a separate list of skills required for this particular job position. You will find some skills mentioned in the job description itself. You can even do a quick Google search to find out more skills relevant to the job role or take help from sample CVs available on the Internet. This way you will get an idea of for what the employer is looking and what's desirable.

3. Research the organisation

Before you decide what skills to add to your CV, take some time to research about the company at which you wish to apply for a job. The purpose of this activity is to find out skills that are valued by your preferred company. The best way to figure out this is to understand the company culture. A young start-up generally appreciates skills such as adaptability, self-motivation, problem-solving attitude, etc., in a candidate. Whereas, big organisations generally look for skills such as leadership, teamwork, great presentation skills, etc.

4. Narrow down your skills

Next, keep both the lists in front of yourself and look for overlapping skills. This way you will be able to customise your CV by narrowing down your skills to include only the relevant ones. Look for ways to include as many hard skills as possible since it will help in convincing the employer to see you as a potential candidate.

For example, common hard skills required for a data analytics job includes proficiency in MS Excel. Therefore, you must talk about your knowledge of specific functions while writing about MS Excel.

5. Strike a balance

Make sure to strike a balance while listing skills in your CV. Soft skills such as communication skills, teamwork, etc., are equally important. This is true especially when you are a part of higher management or your work requires you to interact with a lot of people.

Hard skills help you do the job yourself but soft skills help in getting the job done when it is dependent on others. Therefore, if you wish to apply for a role that is higher to your current one, give equal weightage to soft skills in your CV. It will help prospective employers to see you as a potential candidate.

6. Add relevant keywords   

For your CV to be able to impress the prospective employer, it should first beat the bots. By beating the bots, we mean that your CV should be able to pass the application tracking system (ATS). ATS checks whether a job application is relevant or not by matching the keywords used in the job description with the content of the CV.

The best way to get your CV past the ATS to reach recruiters is by adding relevant keywords. However, don't stuff too many keywords just for the sake of it. Ultimately, it will be read by the recruiter who will take the final decision of calling you for the job interview. Therefore, add only those keywords that are relevant to the job and apply to your field of experience.

On an average, recruiters spend about six seconds looking at a CV to decide whether the applicant is worth calling for a job interview or not. That's how much time candidates get to impress prospective employers who are generally very selective when it comes to calling people for a job interview. That doesn't mean that every candidate who doesn't get called is not qualified for the job. It simply means they failed to demonstrate their skills properly in the CV.

Knowing how to sell your skills to the prospective employers can make all the difference in the number of job interviews one gets called for. What's important is to understand what the employer is looking for in a job candidate and alter your CV accordingly.

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