How to write a skills-based CV in five steps - with examples

Harry Gooding, Director, Skills and Learning - Hays UK&I

It’s no secret that organisations are finding it hard to recruit the right people into tech roles. An example of this can be found in Hays’ recent Global Cyber Security Report, where we uncovered that 61% of employers are struggling to attract trained professionals. 

As a result, many businesses are becoming more open to employing people whose skills mean they have the potential to succeed. Skills-based hiring, as it’s known, has been a big workplace trend this year and, at Hays, we’ve been helping jobseekers to take these opportunities. 

Maybe you’ve got the skills to carve out an exciting career in tech - but how do you show it? In this blog, we’ll look at how to write a skills-based CV. 

Why should you highlight your skills on a CV? 

In a traditional CV, applicants list their employment history and highlight the aspects that are most applicable to the vacant role. However, if you don’t have as much relevant experience, you might be concerned about writing enough to catch the hiring manager’s attention.

 

It’s important to note at this stage that you’re not the only one in this position - skills-based CVs are far more prevalent than they were a few years ago. The trick to doing this right is to focus on the key skills you’ve developed and deployed by using examples in your CV. 

Let’s look at how to do this – with examples. 

How to write a skills-based CV in five steps 

1) Identify the key skills to put on a CV 

Firstly, think about which skills to put on your CV. Read the job description again and pick out any keywords that can guide you, or whether the role is right for you. Some, such as “organisational skills”, of these will appear in most job specs but there are other good skills that will vary between roles. 

2) Write a unique personal statement 

Each personal statement should be unique to the job you’re applying for. It’s at the top of your CV, so make an effort to tailor this for every application. 

Mention your relevant skills here (remember, you’ll discuss these later on, so don’t include any that you can’t back up). Then, talk about how you believe the role will help you further develop and what you want to achieve. 

3) Add your skills and employment history 

While in a traditional CV, you’d expect to categorise your career by past roles, in a skills-based CV, each section will be for a different… you guessed it – skill! 

Choose a relevant skill, then add information about how and where you developed these. This could be from volunteering, a course or extra-curricular activities. In each instance, you should explain what the result was and how it benefitted you or your employer. Include metrics or data to quantify your success.  

Let’s look at some skills examples below, starting with something technical: 

Coding and web development 

Course A, 2023 

  • Completed Course A with distinction, learning how to X, Y and Z. 

Employer A, 2024 

  • Used X CMS platform to create webpages, leading to improved UX and a 40% growth in clicks per session 

Extra-curricular project A 

  • Outside of work, developed my coding skills on the X platform, participating in hackathons and other challenges. 

And here’s an example using a soft skill. 

Learning Mindset 

Employer A, 2024 

  • Became proficient on X platform before running training sessions to instruct colleagues on best practices. With the team onboarded quickly, we were able to deliver 20% more projects per quarter. 

Employer B, 2022-23 

  • Quickly developed knowledge of X, allowing me to create in-depth reports that informed our strategy for future campaign, resulting in a 15% increase in site visits. 

4) Remove anything that won’t help you 

If you lack experience, it can be tempting to write more so that you look more qualified. In fact, that can actually harm your chances. Go back through your CV and check for the following: 

  • Any skills without giving examples of how you/your past employers have benefitted from them. 

  • Irrelevant skills or achievements that can’t easily be transferred to the role. 

  • Cliches such as “hard working”, “team player” etc. 

  • Education grades that aren’t relevant. For example, if you have any A-levels while applying for a job in tech, there’s no need to mention a GCSE in History. However, a strong grade in Maths would be good to put on your CV. 

5) Think about what can supplement your skills-based CV 

If there is space for an accompanying message or cover letter with your CV, explain how you think your existing skillset would make you a strong candidate. Don’t reference that you’re missing experience. Instead, focus on what you do bring to the table, for example: 

  • “I believe I have the right skills to bring to your business and succeed in this role”. 

  • “Having used my X skills to deliver X in past roles, I believe I’m the right candidate for you organisation and this role.” 

  • “So far in my career I’ve quickly picked up and developed skills that have benefitted both myself and my employers. I believe this role offers an opportunity for me to do the same again.” 

What to do next 

If you’re looking for more guidance on evidencing your soft skills in a job application, I highly recommend this blog by my colleague James Milligan. 

After that, why not download the Hays CV Guide? It’s completely free and goes into a lot more detail on every section.

Author

Harry Gooding
Director, Skills and Learning, Hays UK&I

Harry works across Hays' Enterprise Technology Practice and supporting new initiatives around skills development. After beginning his career in recruitment, he then worked in VC backed start-ups and scale-ups for six years across two different portfolios before joining Hays.

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