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How to write a skills based CV
This guide explains how to write a CV that focuses on your skills rather than employment or qualifications.
A skills-based CV format takes the specific skills that an employer is looking for in relation to a job role, and spells out exactly how you have acquired/used those skills. Like other types of CV, it’s typical for this format to be two pages long and no more.
Although you will give a chronological history of your work experience and qualifications, all the detail goes into the skills section which will appear close to the start of the CV. In this brief guide, we explain what goes in each section of the CV.
Name / contact details
Give the following information in the contact section.
- First and last name
- Postal address
- Email address
- Phone number
Optionally you might also give your web address and LinkedIn/Twitter address – but only if they add value to your CV. Find out how your LinkedIn profile can boost the prospects of getting an interview here.
This should be a concise statement of 3 – 4 sentences which explains why you’re suitable for the role. You’ll need to tailor this part of the CV to the exact job advert so read carefully through the person specification before you start writing. Need inspiration? Check out our example above, or read our guide to writing the personal statement section.
Examine the job advert carefully and pick out the most important skills to the recruiter. These are likely to be a mix of hard and soft skills. Provide your examples of relevant skills in bullet points to make it easier for the employer to scan through them.
Examples that you might use to demonstrate a key skill include:
- Formal work experience
- Voluntary work experience
- Work experience in the family business
- Qualifications or training
- Hobbies and activities
- Freelancing activities
We have various CV examples demonstrating how you can demonstrate skills when you have little formal work experience:
List your employment history in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent first). Typically, you wouldn’t offer more detail than the job title, employer and dates. However, if you do have room, you might want to include a brief list of responsibilities. If you have any achievements for each role, you should include these.
The education section should be formatted with the highest qualification listed first. Emphasise any qualifications or modules that are particularly relevant to the role.
Hobbies and interests
List hobbies and interests that add value. They might support your acquisition of skills relevant to the role, or they might simply demonstrate that you’re a fit and healthy person who is unlikely to have many sick days.
It is always optional to list references on your CV as your employer will as for them anyway if they offer you a role. Some reasons you might want to list references are:
- To save the employer the bother of asking.
- To show that you do actually have people willing to act as references on standby.
- To impress the employer, if your references are known in the industry in which you work.
It’s typical to use your current or most recent employer as one reference, and either a past employer, college tutor or some professional person as your other reference.
Advantages and disadvantages of the skills based CV:
- With a Skills Based CV, an employer can immediately see how you’re suited to the role. This can be more efficient than a traditional CV where the employer has to read through all your responsibilities and figure it out that way.
- It’s a great CV format if you don’t have a lot of work experience as it focuses on what you can actually do (however you learned those skills).
- Skills based CVs are also a good choice for career changers who have had many job roles perhaps for shorter periods of time. It places less emphasis on time spent at these roles and more emphasis on the skills you acquired as a result.
- You can use lots of different ways to demonstrate how you built the required skills, such as extra curricular activities.
- It’s not the format that most employers expect in the UK (a reverse chronological CV is far more common). This might frustrate some employers.
- The employer cannot quickly see what you’re doing in your current role.
Originally published 28th February 2020.