CVS / MAY. 25, 2017
version 6, draft 6

Writing a CV: How to Create a Skills-Based CV

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What do you feel most confidently about? Is it your work experience, creativity, talents or skills? A CV gives you the opportunity to promote yourself to different employers by focusing on those aspects you think are strong enough to present you as the ideal candidate for the job. This means that choosing the best CV format for the purpose it is intended to be used is vital to making a good impression!

If you’re currently looking for a job and want to ensure that you’re going to make it to the job interview, find out why you might need to use a skills-based CV.

 

What Is a Skills-Based CV?

A skills-based CV, otherwise known as functional CV, focuses on your transferable skills and certain aspects of your experience. This allows you to refer to relevant skills and achievements from all facets of your life, providing employers with key information on your abilities. The main difference with other types of CV is that a skills-based one prioritises the skills employers actively look for in applicants and it moves your work experience to further down the document.

When to Use One

A skills-based CV is suitable when you:

  • are considering a career change,
  • have had several short-term positions, internships or temporary jobs,
  • have employment gaps in your work history (more than a year,)
  • want to make your hobby or passion your full-time job, or
  • are starting your career and have no experience.

It is not suitable when you:

  • are applying for a job in the same industry, or
  • have strong relevant work experience

The Advantages

In contrast to the chronological CV which highlights job titles and work experience, a skills-based CV focuses on your transferable skills. So, if you feel that you have limited work history in the position or field you are applying for, this type of CV is the most appropriate. Essentially, it takes the focus away from the job roles you had and instead shows employers that you are skilled enough for the job.

It is suitable whether you are applying for a managerial, professional, administration or any other non-academic job as it focuses on your ability to apply your knowledge to different sectors and roles.

The Disadvantages

Employers don’t have much time on their hands and a skills-based CV requires them to do a lot more digging compared to a chronological one which allows them to check information much easier and quicker.

Also, a skills-based CV works best when you want to enter a new field or get a job in which you haven’t got much experience. If you are a graduate, this type of CV could work but most prefer to use the one with a reverse-chronological format because it offers a clear outline of your previous job titles, responsibilities and experience.

 

How to Write a Skills-Based CV

If you want to get found by employers, you need to create a strong CV. To do that, you need to make sure that its content is accurate and that what you say represents you in the best possible way.

With a CV template, writing becomes easier. Instead of spending hours coming up with a working format and starting from scratch, you can choose to work on a template or search the web for inspiration.

Generally speaking, it should include the following sections:

Personal Details

This is where you write your name, home and email address, your telephone number and nationality. Note that you don’t have to include your date of birth or nationality if you don’t want to.

Career Objective

Just like in any type of CV, you don’t need a career objective but it can help to show employers that you have clearly defined goals and that you are hoping you get hired for a specific position. In fact, it may be essential if you are applying for a position in marketing. A career objective is a short, targeted statement that outlines your career direction. It should be carefully researched and tailored to fit the job you are applying for.

Career Summary

This section should be used to highlight your skills and achievements. It may refer to key areas of expertise, achievements, number of years of experience, career interests and goals. A career summary helps employers understand what your CV is all about and gives them an outline of what's going to follow in more detail.

Key Skills

This is the most important section on this type of CV. Here you should apply your knowledge and skills to the role you are applying for. Since employers only have a few seconds to review each CV they receive, it’s important to make every second count and refer to those skills that employers require.

You can achieve this by carefully reading the job description and person specifications. This should help you determine which skills are most valuable to the employer. Choose three or four skills and provide examples to back these up through your own experiences. When you do so, make sure that they are relevant and specific.

Examples of professional skills you can use include:

Soft Skills

Hard Skills

Communication

Copywriting

Teamwork

Foreign languages

Leadership

Graphic design

Time management

Bookkeeping

Creativity

Computer programming

Adaptability

Accounting

Stress management

Mathematics

Self-motivation

Data analysis

Conflict resolution

Project management

Decision-making

Translation

Problem-solving

Spreadsheets

Organisation

Information technology

 

Your skills need to show up all over your CV, not just in the skills section. Your career summary and cover letter should also list a few examples. Making effective use of keywords is vital to getting the attention of employers.

Education

Since your work experience is likely to be limited, education has a central role on a skills-based CV. Here you need to list any information that is relevant to the available position. This means that you can add extra details such as modules, subjects and grades. If you have completed a dissertation or thesis, meanwhile, it’s a good idea to mention it and provide a summary for it. Start by listing dates, grades, the level of qualification and the subject names.

Work Experience

If you have any kind of experience related to the role you are applying for, you need to write it down. If you have been on a placement or internship, let the employers know when that happened and what your responsibilities were.

Volunteering

Apart from paid work experience, you can also refer to voluntary experience. Since you are focusing on your skills, it’s important to show what you can do both in and outside of the field or the role you are targeting. Have you ever raised money for a charity or, better yet, ever organised one?

Interests and Hobbies

While it’s not necessary to include interests and hobbies, it can help to complete your profile. This helps to create a well-rounded image around your name. If you have relevant interests to the position, this is even better, especially if you don’t have much work experience to show. So, let’s say you’re applying for a writing position; you could mention that you maintain your own blog.

References

You can include ‘References available upon request’, unless employers specifically ask you to provide names and other contact information. Two references are usually enough – an academic and a professional one. Before you put any names down, talk to your friends, tutors, ex-colleagues, bosses and career counsellors, and let them know that you are choosing them as your referees.

 

Examples

Check out a few examples for a skills-based CV from:

 

How to Design Your CV

It’s perfectly okay to experiment with your CV to some degree. For example, you can add a few colours here and there, make your headings more apparent, use bold and italics to give it proper structure, and generally make it more visually appealing. Check out these extraordinarily creative CV examples to give you a few ideas.

 

Tips for Success

When working on your CV, it’s important to keep it to a maximum of two pages. Don’t use heavy graphics, tables, images or complex formatting, and prefer to use an internet-friendly font such as Arial or Times New Roman. If you have any additional work you want to show employers, you can also include a link to your personal website or online portfolio.

What’s important here is to focus on your skills. If it helps, write down what you feel your strengths are and then choose the best ones to add to your CV, and don’t forget to provide examples of your skills. Adding achievements and telling stories is another effective way to do this.

 

So, have you started your CV yet? How is it going? Let us know in the comments section below.

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