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How to list your skills on your CV and cover letter
In a highly competitive job market, landing an interview often comes down to crafting a professional resume and cover letter that really stands out from the rest. After all, employers and recruiters will likely have to sort through hundreds of applications before shortlisting candidates, so you need to make a good impression succinctly.
Here are some of the top considerations for a good CV and cover letter, as well as how best to include those all-important skills in both.
What constitutes a good resume?
The best type of resume for you depends on a number of factors, including your seniority, the industry you work in, and the job you’re applying for. However, most good professional resumes can be broken down into two main sections.
The first section is an opportunity for you to describe your key achievements, abilities, and qualities. The aim here is to include engaging, concise, and persuasive snippets about your professional profile.
The second section can be thought of as your evidence to back up the statements made in the first section. This is where you outline your relevant experience, positions held, and responsibilities, as well as your education.
Between these two sections, you should be able to effectively communicate that you’re a qualified candidate for the job because you have the right experience and a history of success.
How to list your skills on your CV
As we’ve touched upon, the top section of your resume is the place to showcase your key skills, which means any that specifically pertain to the job you’re applying for. Carefully read over the job description and make a note of the skills and phrases used so you can refer to your own honest strengths in these areas.
The experience section of your CV can also be used to highlight your skills in a more practical manner. For example, you might choose to include your experience using different systems or technologies in a past job, which are certainly valuable skills but may not align with any specific achievements.
Ideally, the skills on your CV should be made up of a mix of the following categories:
Specialist skills – skills that relate to the specific job or industry, such as experience using a particular programming language
Soft skills – attitudes and qualities that employers value, such as the ability to think laterally
Transferable skills – skills that can be used in any workplace, such as the ability to multi-task
What constitutes a good cover letter?
A cover letter should act as an engaging summary of your CV and not a regurgitation of it. This means that rather than simply listing skills and experience, you should tell a story about why you’re the best candidate for the job. Think of it as a sales pitch to market your credentials and get you an interview.
How to include your skills in your cover letter
Because your cover letter is more than just an overview of your experience and achievements, it’s important to weave your relevant skills naturally into your pitch.
For example, a sales professional might include a statement like, “By streamlining the sales funnel at XX company, I was able to grow our sales by 25% YOY and our market share by 10%”.
In this example, the candidate has shown that they are skilled in managing sales funnels and have quantifiable results to back up their assertion.
Put simply; your cover letter is an opportunity to convey your biggest strengths in a compelling format.