CV Skills – Ideas Listed below is the kind of phrases that are regularly used on CVs with their meanings. You may find you have developed a number of these skills in some capacity, through previous employment, voluntary work, your course work or just through activities you have undertaken – so make sure you incorporate them into your CV. Skills Portfolio – Highlight any word that best describes you

People Skills

• Team work o Supportive, facilitator, organised, co-ordinator, deliverer, imaginative, delegator, open-minded

• Leadership o Dynamic, motivator, team-builder, confidence booster, energetic, capable, outward looking, accountable, visionary

• Interpersonal Skills o Listener, adviser, counsellor, politically aware, initiator, professional, co-operative, constructive, assertive

• Customer orientation o Welcoming, friendly, caring, approachable, constructive, o Accommodating, tactful, diplomatic, tolerant

• Oral communication o Educator, trainer, communicator, presenter, promoter, influencer, humorous, empathetic, telephone skills

• Foreign Language o Specific language skills, cultural awareness, international experience, written and oral expertise, sensitivity

Self-Reliance Skills:

• Self-awareness/confidence o Purposeful, focused, reflective, perceptive, honest, self-belief, objective, realistic, balanced

• Self-promotion skills o Positive, persuasive, pleasant, proactive, persistent, ambitious, opportunistic, promoter

• Initiative and pro-activity o Resourceful, energetic, drive, flexible, self-starter, self-reliant, initiative

• Networking skills o Initiator, trustful, personable, relationship-builder, persistent developer, resourceful, respected

• Willing to learn o Motivated, adaptable, enthusiastic, active, keen, learner, inquisitive, continual improver • Action planning o Decision-maker, planner, organised, negotiator, responsive, evaluator, forward thinker, target-driven, able to prioritise

Generalist Skills:

• Problem-solving o Achiever, successful, results-orientated, project management, creative, practical, logical, astute, agile mind

• IT/computer literacy o IT skills, software packages, common sense, task-orientated, progressive, specific, office skills, keyboard skills • Flexibility o Multi-disciplinary, flexible, versatile, multi-skilled, willing, obliging, mobile, adaptable

• Numeracy skills o Accurate, logical, problem-solver, detailed, methodical, consistent, quick thinker, analytical, thorough

• Business Acumen o Competitive, entrepreneurial, enterprising, commercial, foresight, budgeter, risk taker, effective written communication

• Commitment o Dedicated, trustworthy, conscientious, reliable, loyal, punctual, knowledgeable, experienced

Job Skills

Here are some job examples listing the kind of skills that can be developed from those particular jobs. You may not have done any of these jobs before but realise you have developed some of the skills highlighted through your own employment experience, through course work or through a variety of activities you have undertaken and if you have, then make sure you incorporate them into your own CV.

Part-time Bar Work

If you asked most students what skills/experience they developed from working in a bar, most would say only the following: Served customers, took customer orders, cleared the tables after use, cash handling. When in fact this particular job role provides the potential to develop all of the following skills:

• Team work

• Decision making

• Working on your own initiative

• Working and coping under pressure

• Customer service & customer care skills

• Communication skills both verbal & listening

• Working to deadlines

• Financial awareness/numeracy

• Organisation

• Time management

• Possibly supervision and therefore dealing with staffing issues

• Cash handling

• Product/market knowledge

• Health & safety knowledge

• Possibly creative thinking – thinking of new layouts

• Possibly promotional – promoting a particular brand of drinks therefore brand management

• Legal elements eg licensing laws


Words that Sabotage Your CV!

Creating a winning CV is a feat of strategy involving focus, wording, design and content selection. To achieve a career marketing document that wins interviews, all areas of the strategy must be spot-on and consciously used in the most effective manner. One of the most common mistakes job candidates make when writing their CVs is not paying attention to strategy and word selection.
There are actually words that can have a detrimental impact on the effectiveness of the CV. When most job candidates write them, they don’t consider word choice because they are primarily worried about getting down the basic information. Wording is critical and the wrong one can sabotage your CV.

The average agent and/or hiring manager sees hundreds of CVs from qualified candidates. CVs begin to look and sound the same to them. Here are some words and phrases to avoid:

Soft-skill descriptions
Job seekers feel they need to communicate their soft-skills to the employer because they believe they are the traits that make them unique, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Soft-skills are so common that recruiters pay no attention to them.

Phrases to avoid or severely limit:
– Excellent communication skills
– Strong work ethic
– Personable presenter
– Detail-oriented

Do not bore the reader to tears with these trite, overused and tired phrases. After all, no one will write that he/she takes long lunches, is lazy and argues a lot with peers. Hence, it is much more effective to write a description that is action-based and demonstrates these abilities rather than just laying claim to them. For example, rather than just stating you are an “excellent presenter,” you could say “Developed and presented 50+ multi-media presentations to prospects resulting in 35 new accounts, totalling £300,000 in new revenues.”

Age, health, appearance
Many seasoned job seekers are facing that scary time warp known as pre-retirement and fear age discrimination. They feel they can counter this perceived hurdle by giving a description of their age or health. But this can be death to a CV.

Phrases to avoid:
– Youthful
– Athletic
– Fit
– Healthy
– Mature

Additionally, unless specifically requested, there is no need to include personal details such as date of birth, marital status or whether you have children. This information is typically used to exclude candidates from consideration in the hiring process rather than include them. Unless the employer specifically asks, keep this information confidential.

Passive voice
Many people write in the passive voice because that is how we’ve been taught “formally” in school composition. The problem with the passive voice, however, is that it is just that passive! A CV needs to have punch and sparkle and communicate an active, aggressive candidate. Passive does not accomplish that.

Indicators of the passive voice:
– Responsible for
– Duties included
– Served as
– Actions encompassed

Rather than saying “Responsible for management of three direct reports” change it up to “Managed 3 direct reports.” It is a shorter, more direct mode of writing and adds impact to the way the CV reads. On the flip side, whilst action verbs are great, don’t overdo it.

I have actually seen:
– Smashed numbers through the roof’
– ‘Electrified sales team to produce…’
– ‘Pushed close rate by 10 per cent’

Take your time
A CV is a marketing document for your career just as a brochure is a marketing document for a product or service. Companies put careful thought and consideration into each and every word that goes into marketing copy and you should do the same in your CV. These words stand in your place with the employer and need to showcase you in a powerful way. In a perfect world, these things would not matter, but in the reality of job search today, they matter a great deal. Be wise – stop and give some thought to the words you choose.

Changing Graduate Expectations

In examining the changes in graduate careers, the picture is not complete without considering the changing expectations of graduates themselves.


* Aware there is no ‘job for life’

* New focus on maintaining employability

* Decline of loyalty

* Desire for variety

* Expectation of multiple careers

* Desire for autonomy

* Desire for “worthwhile” work

* Desire for a balanced lifestyle

* Desire for a comfortable lifestyle


* Still expecting a ‘graduate job’


The Complete Graduate

Self-Reliance Skills are the enabling skills, which will be essential for graduates to survive in the 21 st Century. They are the skills to manage a lifetime’s progression in learning and work, rather than to do the work itself. They are process skills rather than functional skills.


This differentiates them from the other attributes which graduates need in the workplace. The complete graduate needs four types of skills:


Self-Reliant : Graduates must be able to manage their career and personal development (e.g. confidence, self-awareness, action planning, political awareness).


Connected : Graduate must be team players (e.g. management skills, meetings skills, negotiation skills, networking skills, presentation skills).


Specialist : It helps to be an expert at something (e.g. marketing, tax, accounting, family law, aerospace engineering, marine biology, organizational psychology).


Generalist : Graduates must have general business skills and knowledge (e.g. finance/basic accounting, written communication, problem-solving, use of IT).


Career Management Skills and Effective Learning Skills


Able clearly to identify skills, values, interests and other personal attributes.

Able to pinpoint core strengths and “differentiating factors”.

Equipped with evidence of abilities (e.g. summary statement, record or “potential”).

Actively willing to seek feedback from others, and able to give constructive feedback.

Able to identify areas for personal, academic and professional development.



Able to define and promote own agenda.

Can identify “customer needs”(academic/community/employer)and can promote own strengths in a convincing way, both written and orally, selling “benefits” to the “customer”, not simply “features”.


Exploring and Creating Opportunities

Able to identify, create, investigate and seize opportunities.

Has research skills to identify possible sources of information, help and support.


Action Planning

Able to plan a course of action which addresses:

*Where am I now? * What do I want to be? * How do I get there?

Able to implement an action plan by:

*Organizing time effectively * Identifying steps needed to reach the goal * Preparing contingency plans

Able to monitor and evaluate progress against specific objectives.




Aware of the need to develop networks of contacts.

Able to define, develop and maintain a support network for advice and information.

Has good telephone skills.


Matching and Decision Making

Understands personal priorities and constraints (internal and external)

This includes the need for a sustainable balance of work and home life.

Able to match opportunities to core skills, knowledge, values, interests etc.

Able to make an informed decision based on the available opportunities.



Able to negotiate the psychological contract from a position of powerlessness.

Able to reach “win/win” agreements.


Political Awareness

Understands the hidden tensions and power struggles within organizations.

Aware of the location of power and influence within organizations.


Coping with Uncertainty

Able to adapt goals in the light of changing circumstances.

Able to take myraids of tiny risks.


Development Focus

Committed to lifelong learning.

Understands preferred method and style of learning.

Reflects on learning from experiences, good and bad.

Able to learn from the mistakes of others.


Transfer Skills

Able to apply skills to new contexts.



Has an underlying confidence in abilities, based on past successes.

Also has a personal sense of self-worth, not dependent on performance.