What are hard skills and why do we need to include them on a CV?
Hard skills are technical skills that are acquired through education, training, or relevant work experience. These skills are practical and hands-on, and they vary depending on the profession or industry you're working in. Hard skills are typically required to perform specific tasks, such as operating a forklift, balancing the books or coding a computer programme. In most cases, hard skills are performed individually and often require specific knowledge or tools. Hard skills are different from soft skills, which are interpersonal skills like time management, leadership, and communication skills. To learn more about hard and soft skills, check out our blog: “How to list special skills on your CV.”
Hard Skills Examples
Hard skills encompass a wide range of abilities that cover a multitude of tasks performed by people across every industry. Check out our list of examples:
Artistic: Typography skills, photoshop and editing software skills, video and photo editing, web design, photography skills
Computers: Programming languages, cloud computing, web development, machine learning and knowledge of operating systems
Construction: Leadership skills, knowledge of health and safety regulations, carpentry skills, roofing skills
Engineering: Civil engineering skills, structural analysis, project management skills, knowledge of health and safety regulations
Finance: Data analysis, accounting skills, corporate finance skills, investment analysis, financial planning and budgeting, financial modeling, knowledge of tax regulations
Marketing: SEO skills, ads management, content creation, social media marketing skills, advertising skills
Repair: Commercial repair skills, repair techniques, HVAC expertise, plumbing skills
Retail: Customer service, inventory management, merchandising skills, sales techniques, cash handling
Writing: Copywriting, SEO writing, script writing, editing and proofreading skills
Of course, these are just examples and not a complete list. Remember, you'll need to tailor your CV skills to each specific job application. It's important that you only include relevant skills! Be sure to read the job description a few times to ensure you have a good understanding of what employers are looking for.
How to prepare a hard skills list for your CV
To create a list of hard skills for your CV, start by brainstorming and compiling a comprehensive list of everything you know how to do that's relevant to your profession. Don't discount any skills, even if they seem small or unimportant -- these skills could be valuable to potential employers. It's better to have a long list initially, as you can always trim it down later.
When you've finished compiling your list, you can refer back to it when tailoring your CV for different employers. This way, you can easily pick and choose the most relevant skills for each job application. Customising your CV based on the specific needs and requirements of each employer is important because it shows them that you are attentive to their needs and have taken the time to highlight the skills that are most valuable to them. This level of customisation can greatly improve your chances of standing out among other applicants.
Hard skills on your CV
In some CV designs, skills are presented using a horizontal layout. To prevent excessive empty space on the right side, these skills are often divided into columns.
When writing a CV, some people choose to include their level of proficiency alongside their skills. They might use phrases such as "Expert," "Advanced," or "Intermediate," or include a bar chart to portray their expertise visually. It's worth mentioning that including your skill level is not always essential, and it's ultimately up to you whether you decide to include it or not.
Optimising your CV for the ATS
When creating a job application or perfecting your CV, it's essential to optimise your CV's hard skills section to help you beat the ATS. The ATS, or an Applicant Tracking System, are systems that act as electronic gatekeepers for employers. Simply put, the ATS has criteria that allows it to prioritise candidates. This means that if you don't meet the criteria of the ATS, your CV might not even be read by potential employers. Boo!
That's why it's important to customise your CV for each and every new job opportunity. To do this, it's important to include relevant keywords, many of which are hard skills that are important to the employer. To determine these keywords, you'll need to examine the job listing. If you have any skills listed in the job description, be sure to include them!
Hard skills FAQ
Here are some of our most frequently asked questions about listing hard skills on a CV:
Should I list hard skills and soft skills separately on a CV?
It's generally best to avoid having separate sections for hard skills and soft skills. There are skills that lie somewhere in between, making it unhelpful for employers to categorise them separately.
What if I’m fluent in a different language? Is this a hard skill?
Being fluent in another language is often seen as a hard skill, but it can be classified as either hard or soft. The specific categorisation doesn't really matter. You can also include a third section and title it "Languages” to help highlight your multilingual mastery.
What about customer service? Is it a hard or soft skill?
Customer service is a hard skill that requires training and experience, however, it also requires great communication, listening, and empathy. These can be considered soft skills.
Does “hard worker” sound great on a CV?
Nope! Instead of using vague, generic phrases like "team player" and "hard worker," we recommend emphasising specific hard skills, e.g., leadership skills or communication skills.
How do you list typing skills on a CV?
Consider using the term "word processing" instead of "typing." You can also specify the number of words you can produce per minute. Are you a speedy typer? Let employers know!
How should I list skills on my CV?
We recommend organising your skills by using bullet points as they allow employers to read your skills in a clear, concise manner. All of our CV examples use bullet points: be sure to check them out!
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