How to write a skills-based CV

How to write a skills-based CV
SEEK content teamupdated on 16 May, 2023

Sell, sell, sell. That’s what a CV’s all about says Andrew Morris, director of Queensland and Western Australia at Robert Half. It’s about scoring a bulls-eye and making that recruiter pick up the phone and call you.

Sometimes a traditional chronological CV isn’t right for a candidate and a skills-based CV that focuses on transferrable skills is the answer.

Use a skills-based CV if:

  • your work history doesn’t appear relevant for the job.
  • you are looking to change career direction
  • you don’t have a lot of work experience
  1. Consider your audience, says Morris. What is going to make that recruiter or employer call you for an interview?
  2. Start with a personal profile. This is 30 to40 words that describe why you’d be a great hire for this job. Try to demonstrate the value you’ll bring to the organisation. Make sure you weave the keywords from the advert into your profile.
  3. Define your transferable skills. Ask yourself what you’re good at that could be used in the role. Think about skills you may have developed through membership of organisations or activities you’re involved in. You may have refereed sport, or organised fundraising. There are important skills lurking in your past.
  4. Divide your skills up under sub-headings. They should be directly related to the job advertisement. If the job requires computing skills, communication skills and problem solving skills, for example, those should be your headings. Put bullet points beneath them.
  5. Tell your success stories. Employers want to hear about your successes, says Morris. They like staff who get things done.
  6. Include the basics. A skills-based CV still needs to include education, employment history, and interests. You can’t leave this out, even if there is less emphasis placed on it. Even holiday jobs can benefit your application because they show that you’ve got the ability to turn up and work. But keep the list to two or three.
  7. Rewrite your CV for every job. Use a Word template and target each job with a different CV. Your skills-based CV should reflect the advertisement. One marketing co-ordinator job, for example, might want the ability to analyse market research, whilst another advert might ask for skills in developing and executing events. Tailoring each skills-based CV to the job will give you a much better hit ratio for landing interviews.
  8. Be honest. Recruiters and employers see CVs every day of the week and have an inbuilt “cheat” radar that detects plastering over of the gaps.  It’s best to include the gaps, but explain them says Morris. “I was on maternity leave”…..”I went travelling”….”my entire department was made redundant…..”
A skills-based CV still needs to include education, employment history, and interests. You can't leave this out, even if there is less emphasis placed on it.
More from this category: Resumes

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