Your CV is not the place to be modest! It is usually the initial and is sometimes the only opportunity you have to create a positive impression and will be the thing that gets you an interview – or not.
The trick is to establish a strong sense of what you have to offer without being boastful and making grand, empty claims. The way to achieve your goal of impressing employers and making them want to meet you is to back up your claims with hard evidence. Don’t just say you are good at something; provide examples to show you are.
Therefore, the most effective CVs are those that have a strong Skills evidence. Past experience and application of skills is a good indicator for employers of your potential abilities and actions. This focuses attention on what you can do, have done and are likely to do.
It is a good idea to back up your claim that you possess excellent skills in, for example, communication by giving specific examples of the particular form of communication you have used, where (context) and why (for what purpose and for whom). Try to start each bulleted point with a verb to emphasise real life experience. Follow with an example from work, study or extra-curricular activities. For example:
- Presented reports to tutorial group of 20 about research findings in Economics
- Wrote articles for university magazine about mountain-walking club activities
- Liaised with customers of various backgrounds at Tesco’s Supermarket as part-time cashier for 3 years
- Co-operatively planned work schedules with four staff at JJB Sports
- Negotiated with colleagues regarding task allocation for major projects at university
- Played an active role in attaining customer service goals at Tesco’s
What skills do you have?
If you are really not sure, as opposed to being modest, perhaps you could ask friends, family and colleagues or speak to a careers coach . A personal skills audit might suggest the following. Note sub-sections of the major skill areas and use them as a guide to the bullet points you could include.
- Presenting information and ideas in written form
- Giving and receiving feedback
- Active listening and asking clarifying questions
- Expressing ideas, feelings and opinions
- Speaking fluently and accurately
- Foreign language competence
- Persuading and influencing
- Non-verbal communication
- Attitude to new tasks
- Readiness to change
- Ability to transfer skills
- Commitment to ongoing improvement
- Desire to learn new skills
- Acceptance of constructive criticism
- Ability to work co-operatively
- Delegating skills
- Constructive confrontation and resolution
- Recognising and valuing difference
- Coping with uncertainty
- Dealing with difficult people
- Ability to work under pressure
- Ability to set and achieve goals
- Decision making Problem solving
- Level of ambition
- Inclination to initiate ideas and plans
- Ability to create opportunities
- Networking skills
- Customer focus Business acumen
Some of these sub-headings could be major skills themselves, such as Negotiating and Leadership. Some elements may fit under more than one skill. You will have to make choices about how best to use your material. Be guided by the Key Selection Criteria for specific jobs as your aim is to show how your skills fit with the employer’s needs.
When describing your skills, it is possible to ‘value-add’ by making reference to aspects of your experience and your personal qualities, interests and values. This can provide a lot of information about you in a very brief and concise way. For example, ‘Wrote articles for magazines about mountain-walking club activities’ informs readers about your interest, skill and success in writing as well as your active, healthy and sociable lifestyle. These are highly valued traits in the workplace and they have been communicated efficiently and effectively.