Job candidates. Create the perfect CV
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How to perfect the most important part of your CV

12 Jun 2017

Your entire CV is important when it comes to searching for your dream job, but one section in particular needs extra attention.

When you’re looking for your dream job, your CV is the first impression you make on potential employers.

You need to make sure it’s perfect, from a well laid-out career history to your spelling and grammar. But, if you had to pick one section that was more important than rest, which section would it be?

Future Human

The skills portion of your CV is arguably the most vital because it’s the main opportunity you have to really sell yourself as the best candidate for the job you’re applying for.

You can talk about what you did in your previous jobs and the obstacles you overcame, but they don’t always give maximum credit to the skills you need for certain tasks.

It’s also important because a lot of candidates underestimate the power of this section, simply listing buzzwords that they consider to be skills.

Tailor your CV skills

Your skills section is proof of why you should tailor every CV to each job application. Yes, it can be tedious, but recruiters can spot generic CVs a mile off.

This is where your skills really stand out. Your career history and the tasks you completed are essentially set in stone, but your skills can speak to each job.

Read the job specifications when you’re editing your CV. Which skills do they look for? Which of these do you have? How can you demonstrate on paper that you have the skills they’re looking for?

Be specific and use examples to best show how you can apply your skills to the job you’re applying for.

Hard skills v soft skills

When it comes to your hard skills, they will most likely need to be backed up with qualifications and experience. These are therefore simple to quantify and measure, and so they should be easy to demonstrate on your CV.

However, don’t fall into the trap of assuming your potential employer will read between the lines and assume you have a qualification or a certificate in machine learning just because you wrote down ‘machine learning’. Back every skill up with proof.

Soft skills can feel much more nebulous, hard to define and even harder to prove on paper. One common mistake is writing something like ‘good communication skills’. You might very well have ‘good communication skills’ but the phrase itself means nothing.

Are you good at giving presentations? What about public speaking events? Can you demonstrate times you worked well with a team on a big project? Suddenly, these skills have become more quantifiable by writing down experience that back them up.

The most important thing to remember about soft skills is that they’re just as important as hard skills, if not more so. Because of their fluid or vague nature, they can often be neglected on CVs or even left out together. Don’t make this mistake – it could be the difference between getting called for an interview and not.

Keep your skills relevant

Remember what we said about tailoring your CV? We meant it. So, we’re saying it again. Only include the relevant skills for a particular job.

Organise your skills in order of importance. Remember, even if they remain consistent, the order could change, depending on the job you’re applying for.

Give your most important skills prominence by mentioning them in your jobs or experience section, in relation to a particular task or role you completed.

Every part of your CV is important and every section is customisable for each job. However, the skills section is essentially your main sell and should be treated as such.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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