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Written by Rolf BaxRolf Bax

How to list special skills on your CV

17 min read
How to list special skills on your CV on your CV
When you're applying for a new job, your skills can help employers understand if you’re an appropriate candidate for the role. Before you begin listing skills, it’s first important to understand what type of skills to include and why they’re important. Merely stating that you possess a special skill won't suffice; you should demonstrate your ability to put it to good use!

Your skills can be highlighted in a dedicated skills section, described within your work experience, or subtly implied in your professional summary. These skills help form the foundation of your accomplishments, and as you advance in your career, learning new skills becomes essential. After all, highly-skilled professionals aren’t built overnight!

Once you list a skill on your CV,  it’s best to back it up with evidence. Skills are the strengths, talents, traits, and wisdom you've acquired through education and work experience. Ultimately, these skills are your badges of honour, but it's the achievements they support that truly matters. We recommend thoroughly reading over the job description to see if there are any specific skills employers are looking for. If you possess any of the skills listed in the job description, be sure to include these in your CV! 

In this guide, we’ll cover how to effectively showcase your CV skills and go over the following: 

  • Why skills are your job search currency
  • The distinction between hard skills and soft skills
  • How to actually list special skills on your CV
  • Tips to align your skills with job requirements
  • How to best convey your skill proficiency level
  • Ten skills for ten common job functions
  • Ten skills for ten common professions

If you’re ready to create a job-winning CV, let’s get started!

Expert tip

You might be wondering: should every skill be included on your CV? 

The answer to this is that ultimately, it’s essential to keep your CV readable. By choosing to omit less relevant skills, you make room for more relevant, appropriate and impressive skills. Additionally, you can also share more skills, achievements or talents you possess in an interview, so avoid the temptation of including an excessive amount of skills. 

Since you can't predict exactly what employers are looking for, reading the job description can be very helpful. Most of the time, less is more when it comes to effective CV writing. Make sure you're remembered for what truly matters.

Expert tip

Consider listing how your special skills have contributed to your achievements. This can help you articulate your worth to potential employers. Your CV skills act as your job search currency because they signal to employers whether you actually possess the capabilities to excel in a role. If you can provide examples of your special skills in action, they become the ultimate objective measure of your competence. Any skill that empowers you to perform your job better than others can be considered a special talent, and mastering these skills adds significant value to your employer over time.

The distinction between hard and soft skills

Hard skills encompass the practical, industry-specific tools and knowledge required for a job. These skills are usually quantifiable and are typically acquired through education, on-the-job experience, or training. Hard skills can often be assessed and may even be verified during the hiring process. Degrees of proficiency in hard skills can vary. Including hard skills is important, as many Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) algorithms and systems will look for specific hard skills according to the requirements of employers. 

Soft skills typically involve aspects of your personality, work style, or effectiveness. These skills can be challenging to measure or quantify. Soft skills are especially important for leadership roles or positions that involve interaction with customers. When two candidates possess similar backgrounds and professional qualities, soft skills can often be the decisive factor in the hiring decision.

After hiring managers verify your hard skills to ensure you can complete the job tasks, they turn to your soft skills to assess if you can excel in those tasks. In many modern workplaces and creative startups, soft skills can give you an edge over someone with hard skills. Soft skills carry great weight in certain situations. 

Expert tip

Profession-specific examples of hard and soft skills

  • Hard skills (Doctor): Surgery, Post-Operative Care, Emergency Medicine, Diagnosis.
  • Soft skills (Doctor): Team Management, Leadership, Compassion, Empathy.
  • Hard skills (Sales Rep): Salesforce, Sales Development, Lead Qualification, Pipeline Management.
  • Soft skills (Sales Rep): Communication, Decision-Making, Focus, Integrity, Influencing.
  • Hard skills (Waitress): Aloha POS, Customer Service, Inventory Management, Bartending, and Food Preparation
  • Soft skills (Waitress): Positive Attitude, Reliability, Communication, Hard Work, Responsibility.

Key rules for including CV skills 

Describing your skills on your CV  involves more than just listing them in the skills section. Rare skills may require further explanation, and certain skills may need to be reiterated. So, how do you ensure that your top skills are prominently featured on your CV? 

1. Demonstrate an impressively rare skill set 

One of the surefire ways to bore a hiring manager is by including the same CV skills as every other candidate. If the hiring manager repeatedly encounters the phrase "communication skills," they'll likely categorise you with average candidates. If you want to stand out, you need to critically assess whether your skills are genuinely exceptional.

2. Avoid excessive CV skill repetition 

When you have multiple opportunities to showcase your skills, it's tempting to believe that repetition will drive your message home. However, it's not the case. Even if you use different terminology to describe the same skill, remember that your CV space is precious. To appear as a well-rounded professional, aim to highlight as many distinct skills as possible in the skills section, employment history, and summary. 

3. Ensure your top CV skills are the most visible 

In the table below, you'll find the three places to list your skills. Various ways can be used to describe your skill set to a potential employer. If there are skills you want to emphasise, make sure they are either listed or described in your summary or skills section. While a potential employer might not read every detail of your work experience, you can't afford to let critical skills get lost in the general work history. Position them at the top of your CV in the summary or specific skills section to ensure they are prominently displayed, even if they lack context.

Expert tip

Three places to list your CV skills

  • Skills section: Typically, a skills section contains 6-7 key skills, so reserve this section for the rarest and most impressive skills. Hard skills should dominate here, as your soft skills can be demonstrated through your work experience and summary.
  • Work experience: Sometimes, your skills speak for themselves when you describe your achievements thoroughly. For instance, if you mention saving 15% on annual equipment expenses, there's no need to explicitly mention your negotiation skills.
  • Professional summary: The summary section, usually comprising 3-4 lines, is the most critical part of your CV. It should prominently feature your top skills, both explicitly and implicitly. Don't hesitate to reiterate the rarer skills listed in your skills section. You want the hiring manager to read that far!

Tips to match your skills to job requirements

  • When adding skills, it's essential to understand your audience. As you apply for jobs, consider three sources to gauge how your audience might perceive your skills: the job description, the company, and the industry.
  • Read the job description to understand the crucial keywords and tone of voice. How does the job description emphasise skills? Are there any required skills? Ensure your CV aligns with the job description in terms of skills. While the job description may not always be written by the hiring manager, they will undoubtedly use it as a basis for the interview.
  • Don’t forget to research the company. Does the company value innovation and learning? What are the company values? Does it prioritise creative skills or place more emphasis on soft skills? Knowledge of the company can help you tailor your CV and prepare you for an interview!
  • Research the industry to align your skills with industry expectations. Demonstrate your experience and industry knowledge by discussing your skills in the same manner an industry expert would expect.

How to convey your level of skill proficiency

Sometimes it can be challenging to convey your proficiency level accurately in a CV. For instance, if your Microsoft Excel skills are basic, you might hesitate to include them on your CV. 

One solution is to include a skills section with a graphical representation of skill levels, using bars, stars, or another visual element. Fortunately, at CVapp.ie, we make it easy with our customisable, professional design templates. We’ll help you display your skills with dazzling designs and expert-approved visual elements. Check it out for yourself by accessing our CV Builder! 

Top ten skills for 10 common job functions 

Below, you'll find a list of common job functions along with the top ten skills for each:

Education:

  • Ability to Work in a Team
  • Customer Service
  • Adaptability
  • Communication Skills
  • Analytical Thinking Skills
  • Multitasking Skills
  • Leadership
  • Microsoft Office
  • Project Management Skills
  • Fast Learner

Administrative:

  • Customer Service
  • Ability to Work in a Team
  • Excellent Customer Service Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Strong Communication Skills
  • Multitasking Skills
  • Leadership
  • Microsoft Office
  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Adaptability

Medical:

  • Patient Advocacy
  • Leadership
  • Strong Organisational Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Excellent Customer Service Skills
  • Scheduling Skills
  • Excellent Communication Skills
  • Fast Learner
  • Advanced Computer System Skills
  • Knowledgeable in Medical Terminology and Procedures

Accounting & Finance:

  • Leadership
  • Customer Service
  • Excellent Customer Service Skills
  • Scheduling Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Strong Interpersonal Communication Skills
  • Management
  • Ability to Work in a Team
  • Ability to Multitask
  • Effective Time Management

Business & Management:

  • Ability to Work in a Team
  • Strong Organisational Skills
  • Administrative Support Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Communication
  • Excellent Communication Skills
  • Ability to Work in a Team
  • Effective Time Management
  • Leadership Skills

Hospitality & Catering:

  • Customer Service
  • Excellent Customer Service Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Strong Communication Skills
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Motivated Attitude
  • Scheduling Skills
  • Fast Learner
  • Inventory Control Skills
  • Ability to Multitask

Sales:

  • Ability to Work in a Team
  • Customer Service
  • Communication Skills
  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Adaptability
  • Fast Learner
  • Leadership
  • Effective Time Management
  • Decision Making Skills
  • Communication

Real Estate:

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Microsoft Office
  • Customer Service
  • Communication Skills
  • Customer Service
  • Effective Time Management
  • Fast Learner
  • Leadership Skills
  • Computer Skills
  • Multitasking Skills

Retail:

  • Leadership
  • Customer Service
  • Excellent Customer Service Skills
  • Scheduling Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Strong Interpersonal Communication Skills
  • Management
  • Ability to Work in a Team
  • Ability to Multitask
  • Effective Time Management

Engineering:

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Microsoft Office
  • Customer Service
  • Communication Skills
  • Customer Service
  • Effective Time Management
  • Leadership Skills
  • Computer Skills
  • Multitasking Skills
  • Effective Time Management

H2: Top ten skills for 10 common professions

  • Scroll to the right to see more job functions.
teacher customer service registered nurse accountant internship student cna university student high school student administrative assistant
Ability to Work in a Team Customer Service Patient Advocacy Leadership Teamwork Skills Strong Organisational Skills Communication Skills Ability to Work in a Team Strong Organisational Skills Administrative Support Skills
Communication Skills Ability to Work in a Team Teamwork Skills Interpersonal Skills Motivated Attitude Excellent Customer Service Skills Ability to Work in a Team Customer Service Excellent Customer Service Skills Scheduling Skills
Excellent Communication Skills Communication Skills Strong Interpersonal Communication Skills Management Ability to Work in a Team Communication Skills Ability to Work Under Pressure Communication Skills Advanced Computer System Skills Microsoft Office
Adaptability Fast Learner Knowledgable in Medical Terminology and Procedures Recruiting Honesty and Integrity Ability to Work in a Team Customer Service Fast Learner Communication Skills Customer Service
Classroom Management Ability to Work Under Pressure Trauma and ER Experience Communication Skills Fast Learner Advanced Computer System Skills Adaptability Adaptability Ability to Work in a Team Editing and Proofreading Skills
Effective Time Management Computer Skills Effective Time Management Microsoft Office Communication Skills Fast Learner Fast Learner Ability to Work Under Pressure Fast Learner Inventory Control Skills
Fast Learner Ability to Multitask Ability to Work in a Team Microsoft Excel Interpersonal Communication Skills Customer Service Ability to Multitask Communication Leadership Skills Event Planning
Ability to Work Under Pressure Adaptability Ability to Work in a Team Effective Time Management Adaptability Ability to Work Under Pressure Communication Microsoft Office Adaptability Dictation Skills
Computer Skills Effective Time Management Ability to Work Under Pressure Ability to Work in a Team Microsoft Office Adaptability Effective Time Management Leadership Friendly and Outgoing Attitude Communication Skills
Curriculum and Instruction Microsoft Office Communication Skills Ability to Work Under Pressure Ability to Work Under Pressure Effective Time Management Leadership Skills Computer Skills Multitasking Skills Effective Time Management

Key takeaways

Take it from us: when you read too many CVs for the same job, they all start to look a little similar. Every hiring manager wants to find an exceptional candidate with all the necessary skills. Use this guide, and the following tips, to help your CV stand out from the crowd! 

  • Make sure that you have a solid balance of soft and hard skills
  • If you have a rare skill set, back it up with visible examples
  • Make sure that your skills section is filled with skills to set you apart
  • Don't repeat skills too much - the hiring manager will get the message the first time
  • Double check the job description to see that you are not going beyond the requirements
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