Graduate Coach Blog

How to describe your key skills on your CV – Part 2

Posted: August 3, 2017 at 8:50 am | Author: Chris Davies

It’s not what you say on your CV but how you say it that gets you results. This blog shows you how.

In Part 1 of this blog I shared CV Tips 1 to 3 on how to describe your key skills and achievements on your CV. My aim is to show exactly how to describe your soft skills and experience to employers even if you have little or no work experience.

To do this you must break down and describe in detail the skills gained from activities like travel, hobbies, interests and so forth. The tips I share are drawn from my experience of helping countless numbers of graduates create CVs that have helped them get job interviews.

In this second part, I will share further examples to help you pull out the nitty gritty details of your skills and experience so that your CV stands out where it matters. Let’s kick off with CV Tip 4.

CV Tip 4: List Travel

Don’t make the mistake of thinking of travel as just travel: find the value in it and share it on your CV. Every employer looks for evidence of cultural awareness, especially in our global working environment. Evidence that you have worked or lived in another country will make your claim to cultural awareness stronger. List any working holidays you took abroad to show that you are adaptable and good with people from different backgrounds. Name the countries too, as different countries will bring out different skills and awareness.

CV Tip 5: Little or no work experience

Frequently I come across graduates who have little or no work experience and so think they have little to put on their CVs. However, that is not necessarily true. It’s just a matter of looking more closely.

For example, I once worked with a graduate who fundraised to pay for his own trips aboard. I showed him how he could use this to demonstrate that he is resilient, determined, enterprising, and a good problem solver.

I coached another candidate with no paid work experience to talk about her experience of writing for her school and university newspapers as well as writing her own fashion blog. The employer could see she used her time at university effectively. She came across as consistent and as having a real interest in developing and using her communication skills. If you’re passionate about a skill you will find ways to practice it. You are also more likely to be effective at it.

CV Tip 6: Use Facts and Figures

Fact and figures help you to explain the impact your skills have had in a job. You can explain that a training event you organised for students at your university achieved a 25% increase in attendance compared to the previous year. Information like this can present you as persuasive.

Look at how much stronger the following extract from a CV comes across simply by adding facts and figures:

  • Delivered successful SEO campaigns, which lead to increased keyword ranking and web traffic.
  • Managed PPC Google Adwords campaigns with a budget of £30,000pcm, I achieved a positive ROI thanks to targeted keyword selection and strong conversion rates.
  • Managed email marketing, including writing and designing HTML emails, organising email schedule and working with third party advertising campaigns (which directly generated £75,000 revenue).
  • Helped build email database of 200,000 records over the last 12 months.
  • Built strong list of PR contacts running affiliate and link building campaigns.

CV Tip 7: List Awards

Describing yourself as ‘award winning’ is eye-catching and potentially any graduate who has ever won an award can do this. One graduate made good use of her Duke of Edinburgh Award and trophies in sports, cooking, horse riding and skiing to paint a picture of someone who is a good team worker, creative and adventurous.

CV Tip 8: Anything else out of the ordinary?

One candidate I worked with had an impressive list of achievements that included founding start-ups and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. He also listed early stages of learning a language and his goal to become bilingual in a few years. Even though he was yet to acquire this goal, having the goal and stating it painted him in good light. Besides, the employer could also look at this potential achievement as a skill that could come in useful in the future.

I hope you have found the tips shared in this two-part blog useful to help you improve the way you describe your skills and experience on your CV. There’s always a way to improve and strengthen your CV. It just takes a little effort to dig below the surface and pull out the skills and experience you have hidden. Taking them out of their context can help you present them in new light and you will be surprised at just how much you have to offer.

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