How To Show Hard And Soft Skills On Your CV

Job seeking is all about making a great first impression. Your CV often provides the first impression a hiring manager will have of you and it’s important that you highlight the skills that will help you stand out from the competition.

Importantly, the types of skills you focus on are often weighted as heavily as the skills themselves. There are two categories of skills that end up on a typical resume: hard skills and soft skills. In the hard skills vs. soft skills debate, there’s no clear winner as to which type should always be featured more. It depends on the job, and of course, it depends on you and your strengths.

One of the keys to successful job searching is not only being able to define and utilize both hard and soft skills in your CV, but to know how to highlight both types of skills in the most effective way possible.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are the concrete abilities that you bring to the table as a worker. Often, these are skills that you learned in school or a training course and that bring clearly defined value to businesses.

Examples of hard skills include:

  • Your college degree
  • Adobe Suite proficiency
  • Microsoft Office proficiency
  • Language fluencies
  • Training/industry-specific certifications
  • Social media
  • Coding

Most of the time, there will be a certain set of hard skills that you’ll want to focus on by nature of what the job entails. For example, if you’re applying for an office assistant job, you’ll probably want to include hard skills such as your excellent computer and typing abilities.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the talents and abilities you’ve picked up more organically through past work experiences and interpersonal relationships. They speak to what you have to offer as an employee, and in many ways they touch on what you have to offer as an individual as well.

Examples of soft skills include:

Leadership abilities

  • Problem solving
  • Ability to work well in groups
  • Communication skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Time management
  • Project management

What is the difference between hard and soft skills?

Soft skills are often acquired and honed over time, as opposed to hard skills which are usually evidenced by a degree, specific experience, training or a quick demonstration. Unlike coding skills, it’s a lot more difficult to show your strength in leadership or time management.

How to show hard and soft skills on your resume

Your hard skills and soft skills work together to define who you are as an employee. For that reason, both are important to include on your CV. A well-rounded, well-written resume focuses on the skills that are relevant for a particular job. That’s why almost all resume advice recommends adapting your CV for each job that you apply to. But how do you efficiently display your skills?

Showing hard skills on a resume is relatively easy, since they’re often accompanied by a degree or certification. Generally, they’ll show up throughout your resume without having to be listed in a separate block. A hiring manager should be able to read through your CV and pick out a variety of hard skills based on your schooling and descriptions of your past job experience.

Hard skills that don’t neatly fit into other sections (such as language fluencies or self-taught abilities), can be listed in the bottom under sections such as “Language Skills.”

But what about soft skills? By their very definition soft skills fall under the “show, don’t tell” category of job abilities, but including them on your CV tells hiring managers that you recognize and value these skills in yourself.

Just like with hard skills, you can list soft skill descriptors in bullet points about past job experience. Give a short example of the skills at hand, for example: “Organized team building activities such as X and Y.” Again, emphasize the skills that are most necessary for the job you’re applying for, using the job and application description as a blueprint for what the hiring manager is looking for.

Which is more important: hard skills or soft skills?

So, the big question: which types of skills are more important, hard skills or soft skills? The answer is both! Hard skills aren’t usually going to be enough to get you a job on their own, nor are soft skills. The trick to a great resume is displaying a balance of both types of skills

Ultimately, whether you get the job or not is based on a large variety of factors that include, but also may go beyond, your CV. Focus on making the strongest impression you can with your resume by highlighting the hard and soft skills that make you a great employee, and when you do get hired, be ready to put those skills into action to show the hiring manager they’ve made the right decision.


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