5 skills every employer expects to see on your CV

If you were able to put yourself in the shoes of the employer, what would you expect to see when reading a CV? What are some of the basic requirements you’d expect to be present, and in addition, what unique properties make up a successful applicant?

Well, the great news is that we have the answers for you. We’ve pooled together all of our knowledge and created the ultimate guide to what an employer looks for when hiring.

So without further ado, here are the 5 skills every employer expects to see on your CV:

1. Effective communication – confidence

Whether it’s written or verbal, communication is a vital part of any role. When writing your CV you should zone in on the type of communication that’s expected for the job. For example, if you’re applying for a customer service role and you will be answering telephone calls, you should write a CV that demonstrates your skills in this particular area.

Use your work experience to showcase your communication skills. Provide examples of customer complaint resolution and other instances of going above and beyond for a customer. This type of evidence has a far greater impact than simply stating you ‘have great communication skills’. Using cliché statements like this will actually decrease your chances. An employer is far too accustomed to seeing these bold statements, and it will go against you.

The ‘show, don’t tell’ principal of CV writing is the best approach. So avoid the cliché statements and focus upon how you can provide evidence to support your skills. For instance, if written communication is an important aspect of the role, then consider providing examples. You could provide a link to an article you wrote on the internet, or even attach a physical copy of your dissertation.

Read more: Educba have a great guide to demonstrating communication skills such as listening, training, coaching, negotiating and writing here.

2. Industry/commercial awareness

The employer wants to read your CV and see that it oozes awareness for, not just their business, but also the industry. Having a high level of commercial awareness will impress any hiring manager.

Use the right words (technical jargon) within your CV to help describe certain aspects. But make sure your cover letter and personal statement also showcase your knowledge of the industry. Your understanding of the current market, the product or service, and the customer needs to shine through.

Tailor your achievements and examples of performance to the industry. Ideally you should always try and find examples that are directly aligned to that position or even the company. But specific industry and commercial statements within your CV are fine also. This would of course be better than nothing at all, and without any commercial injection into your CV you are representing someone who doesn’t know the industry.

Even if you lack experience in a particular sector, it doesn’t mean to say you should accept that. The internet was created for many reasons, and research is just one aspect you can utilise to your advantage. So whether you’re an expert in the field or even a newcomer to the industry, make sure you’re up to date.

Read more: Wikijob has a great list of 10 common commercial awareness questions that will help you consider the type of information you might include in your CV.

3. Teamworking abilities

There are very few jobs in the world that don’t require some level of teamworking. If the role you’re applying for is very much a ‘flying solo’ position, then maybe this won’t apply to you as much. But for most of us, teamworking is a necessary part of the job.

The daily interaction between co-workers is very important, and all managers and business owners like to hire people that seamlessly work together towards a common goal. Arguments and disagreements are all part and parcel of daily working life, but it’s how those problems are solved that’s the key to success.

Some employees only focus upon themselves and how their performance will impact the business. This kind of thinking is quite natural, as everyone wants to impress and show the boss what they have to offer. However, any manager would tell you that it’s not just individual performance that’s important – it’s also how everyone works together.

You are far more likely to gain a promotion and create a fantastic career for yourself if you work well with others. Your CV needs to reflect your passion and understanding for teamworking, and how that is far more important than being the hero. Provide examples within your CV of projects that you took part in, and how successful they were because of everybody’s efforts – not just your own.

Read more: YouthEmployment.org has a great guide to talking about teamwork on your CV.

4. Hard skills

Although it may seem obvious to say that you need to have the required hard or specific skills on your CV – you’d be surprised at how many job seekers miss them out. This is mainly down to a lack of care when it comes to writing a focused and tailored CV.

Everybody who applies for a job should re-write their CV to cater for the employer’s requests. The job advert has not just been created as an advertisement for job hunters to respond too. It has also been written by the hiring manager to detail exactly who they are looking for. The employer has made the effort to write a job description and talk about the company. You should pay attention to this when writing a CV.

Tailor your CV to the role

You should always tailor and customise your CV to the role, the company and even the industry. This will ensure you cover as many aspects as possible as listed in the job advert. You can also conduct research by reading the company’s website and social media pages. This will give you a fantastic insight into what makes them tick, who their customers are, what service or product they sell, and so on.

When it comes to the specific skills or qualifications the company demands or requests, you should pay attention to them. These items should be on your CV, if you hold them of course. Also, don’t change the wording of them if they mean the same. The company has used those words for a reason, so you should stay on the same page and match those important keywords.

Tip – create a ‘Core skills’ section that sits on the first page. Keep this to around 4-6 skills at the most, and make sure they are highlighted and easy to read. The hiring manager will thank you for making the relevant skills noticeable, and they can quickly short list you for an interview. You may like to choose a CV template that facilitates this skills-first layout, such as our Free ATS-safe Word CV template using Arial Narrow font or our Free ATS-friendly smart CV template in Microsoft Word format.

Read more: See our list of example hard skills here.

5. Organisation and time management

Every job requires an employee to have good organisation skills. A secretary would need to be able to manage a diary, whilst an accountant would need to meet deadlines at month end. The employer doesn’t want to have to micro-manage each employee, and would expect them to manage their own appointments and deadlines. An organised worker is far more efficient than someone who lacks the ability or care to manage their own tasks on a daily basis. Organisation is not something that can always be taught, and the employer won’t have the time or desire to train someone on how to manage the basics.

Again, focus upon what will matter to the role and try to provide examples of your past performances.

You could say:

I consistently met my deadline when submitting month end accounts and reports for Ford and Vauxhall, Nottingham

 Can you see how this would be far better than writing the same old cliché statements like this:

I have great organisation skills

 The above statement has no evidence, and writing this would mean you are expecting the employer to believe you. Unfortunately they won’t, and they have no reason too. So always backup your claims with real facts and figures, so the employer doesn’t have to read between the lines.

“Using bullet points can help to give your CV more impact, especially if combined with ‘Action Verbs’ ” ~ Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine

Use action words

Here are some examples of action verbs from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine:

  • Achieved – accelerated, accomplished, achieved, carried out, completed, improved, delivered, enhanced, finished, negotiated, obtained, produced, secured, increased, doubled, implemented
  • Communicated – advised, participated, chaired meeting, wrote, instructed, demonstrated, edited, presented, discussed, promoted, persuaded, recommended
  • Took initiative – created, formulated, designed, established, introduced, devised, started, developed, set up, launched, initiated, enabled
  • Researched – classified, differentiated, investigated, determined, experimented, equated, searched, developed, surveyed, examined, indexed, compiled, catalogued
  • Organised and planned – distributed, reorganised, arranged, restructured, budgeted, verified, scheduled, computed, planned, produced
  • Interpersonal – advised, negotiated, consulted, evaluated,  proposed, handled, sorted out, collaborated, discussed, mediated, facilitated
  • Led – directed, supervised, motivated, guided, managed, led, organised, undertook
  • Managed – organised, implemented, established, produced, initiated, attained, maintained
  • Problem solved – analysed, diagnosed, reduced, increased, simplified, evaluated, synthesised, tackled, investigated, reviewed, identified, refined, streamlined, examined, reorganised, solve.

Find out more: Watch this great video by Beacon Point.

Great CV templates for showcasing skills:

These are just some of our CV templates that place an emphasis on skills. You can see our full CV template collection here or visit our main CV template page.

About Martin Carline

Martin has been a senior manager of a large customer service team within the education services industry, dealing with all aspects of staff recruitment and management. He now authors and manages content for CV Template Master and a number of other leading websites. In his spare time, Martin is an accomplished pianist and teaches all styles with a particular focus on boogie woogie and blues.

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