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CV writing: why you should emphasise your ‘hot’ skills

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Over the years I’ve seen a lot of CVs and have noticed patterns in people’s attitudes and approaches to writing their CV. However, there is one issue that stands out above all others and it manifests itself in the conversations I have with prospective customers.

Their typical questions are often along the lines of: “Can you make my CV look better?” Or: “I need my CV to be more eye catching.” While many often ask: “Can you make my CV look more professional?”

Now you might be wondering what is wrong with these questions! The point is, they focus purely on aesthetics. What a CV looks like is of course important, but it’s completely secondary to the content of the CV.

A nice looking CV full of waffle is going to be less effective than an average looking CV with great content. What makes your CV effective is providing compelling evidence that you have the skills and experience to do the job you’re applying for.

The CV must capture your ‘value proposition’ and ‘value-added’ skills that are aligned with the ‘hot’ skills in your market place. Too many job seekers are unaware of the ‘hot’ skills employers are searching for and resort to listing behavioural traits such as working in a team, working under pressure, and having good communications skills, etc.

When we write CVs we make a point of researching and defining the ‘hot’ skills that are in demand in each profession. We also spell out how these skills might benefit a future employer if they were to hire you. We make sure these skills are pushed in the CV and backed up with tangible evidence.

For example:

  • If you work in marketing you may want to talk about your ability to create low-cost, recession-busting marketing strategies that deliver superior return on investment (ROI).
  • If you are an operations manager, your skills might include being able to lead cost-rationalisation programmes to reduce cost and drive profit.
  • If you are an HR manager you might highlight the fact that you can develop robust succession planning and performance management frameworks to drive superior workforce productivity.
  • If you compare these with the behavioural traits we mentioned above, they are clearly better aligned to the market place and much more powerful. Understanding what the ‘hot’ skills are for your industry and ensuring they are included in the content of your CV is paramount to success.

Matt Craven is Managing Director of CV & Interview Advisors. Matt has seven years’ experience in the CV writing industry. For a free CV appraisal visit the CV & Interview Advisors website.

Photo by Laffy