The Skills Section on a CV

Hard skills, soft skills, personal skills and professional skills
CV Template

The skills section on a CV is an important part of your CV which demonstrates your personal characteristics and professional capabilities to recruiters. There are different types of skills that you can list on a CV. Hard skills and soft skills are a term used frequently when it comes to talking about the skills section for your professional CV, but also terms such as transferable skills, adaptive skills and job-related skills. Essentially, these skills make up your list on the skills section of your CV and help hiring managers identify your abilities.

Not only is this section of the CV apt for listing your personal and professional skills, but also for influencing hiring managers decisions when it comes to recruiting. Presenting recruiters with a strong personal profile enhances your chances of getting the job.

This guide seeks to explain the skills section on a CV, the difference between hard and soft skills, the differences between personal and professional skills, key skills to write on your CV, as well as some examples of skills to list on a CV.

This page focuses solely on the skills section of the CV. Other sections, such as the Work Experience section on a CV or more general guides on how to write a CV can be found on our website.

What are hard skills and soft skills?

Hard skills and soft skills are a way of dividing skills into two categories: skills which are gained through a particular training course and skills which are self-attainable. Ideally, recruiters look for a mixture of hard and soft skills in applicants, as both types of skills are necessary for all jobs.

Hard skills are necessary for specific industries and sectors, but can also be transferred across a variety of sectors, such as computer skills, as many jobs require computer work. These skills can range from officially certified qualifications, such as degrees and courses, to skills learnt at apprenticeships or previous jobs, such as how to use a specific programme, or proofread.

In the same way as hard skills, soft skills are necessary for specific jobs, though you can also transfer them across work sectors and industries. For example, teamwork or leadership. These qualities are obtained through experience and are fundamental skills for most jobs.

Hard skills include all forms of training, including diplomas and degrees. These should mainly be listed in the education section of the CV; however, you can list a specific skill you gained from the course in the skills section, as well. An example of this can be found in the examples of skills section of this guide under examples of hard skills.

Differences between personal skills and professional skills

These two skill categories can get in a bit of a muddle and sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between the two.

Professional skills can be used in the workplace or for a specific profession, such as working in a team etc., whereas personal skills are considered more personal qualities and characteristics. They are associated with personality, such as being able to work well under pressure.

Note: Unless specific to a particular job, most professional skills are transferable skills, as well.

The conclusive difference between the two types of skill is fundamentally that these skills are either related with a professional environment, or a personal environment. When listing your skills on your CV, there’s no need to separate them into different types of skills and specify which skills are personal or professional. However, if at first it is helpful to separate them, write your skills in two separate lists to ensure you have a nicely balanced list of the two categories.

Key skills to write on your CV

One of the most important things about writing the skills section of your CV is making sure the skills you list are 100% accurate and also, truthful. It isn’t worth listing coding abilities as a skill and then starting your new job and realising that you aren’t quite up to scratch with what you might have implied on your CV.

skills for cv

A good way of singling out your best skills, all the while trying to relate to the job specification, is by listing the skills you possess which would be most useful for the job for which you are applying. Alternatively, after listing your skills on your CV, you can use the job specification as a checklist to match up compatibility and ensure you are coming through as a strong candidate for the job.

Try and include a variety of skills. It’s important to combine all types of skills (professional and personal/hard and soft) to create a rounded personal profile.

Example skills to put on a CV

It can be difficult to think of the skills you possess or to single out the most important and impressive skills. Here are some examples of different types of skills to list on your CV.

Hard skills:

  • Proofreading
  • Microsoft Office programme
  • A degree, diploma or other academic course (these should be listed in either the Education section, whereas skills you learnt during your course can be listed here. E.g. if you have a foreign languages degree, translation may be a skill you acquired whilst studying at university).

Soft skills:

  • Teamwork
  • Public speaking
  • Problem solving
  • Negotiation
  • Verbal communication

Transferable skills:

  • Foreign language skills
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Creativity

Professional skills (these can also be called job-related skills and most can be called transferable too):

  • Communication
  • Time management
  • Stress management

Personal skills:

  • Patient
  • Resourceful
  • Communicative
  • Creative

For examples of CVs, see our CV templates page, or use our online CV maker to create your own CV.

Last modified on 15 October 2020

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