What Are the Top Professional Skills to Make Your CV Stand Out?

Impress employers by including the right skills in your resume.

Employers are looking for employees with the professional skills and abilities that will get the job done. If you’re looking to land your dream job, you will need to prove that you can do the job they’re looking to fill. But in a competitive job market, how can you prove that you’re the person they have been looking for? By highlighting your professional skills.

In this article, you will learn:

What are the differences between hard skills and soft skills?

Skills for a CV can be broken down into hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are measured, and often gained, through training and education; they’re the technical expertise and abilities required for a specific job.

For example, if you are applying for a Civil Engineering position, you might include computer and drafting skills on your resume. If you’re applying for a content writing position, you might add search engine optimization, editing, and copywriting as hard skills. Foreign languages, accounting, and the ability to use specific computer software programs (such as the Microsoft Office Suite) would also be considered hard, or technical, skills on a resume. Other common hard skills include:

  • Teaching
  • Project management
  • Graphic design
  • Database management
  • Technical writing
  • Valid driver’s license

Soft skills, also referred to as social or people skills, are personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively with others. In the work environment, it means being able to work with and relate to your peers, managers, customers, and clients. Soft skills are difficult to measure, yet highly valued by employers. The majority of this post focuses on soft skills that, when effectively incorporated into your CV, will land you the interview.

Are hard skills or soft skills more important?

Surveys indicate that employers believe soft skills are just as essential as hard skills. In fact, many employers say they are more important than hard skills when it comes to overall job success. Hard skills might indicate that you have the know-how for the technical elements of a position, but without people skills it will be challenging to complete projects with a team.

Which 5 skill sets are proven to stand out on a resume?

When you apply for a job, employers will check your resume for the skill set required for the position. A skill set shows your range of knowledge and your ability to perform the job professionally. Five skill sets that employers frequently seek include:

  • Communication
  • Creative thinking
  • Analytics
  • Leadership
  • Relationship-building

These skill sets are described briefly in this section and in detail in the next section, which highlights the top professional skills for a CV.

Communication skills are highlighted by providing examples of effective listening, writing, and speaking.

Creative thinking skills might be highlighted by listing examples of effective problem solving or applying conceptual solutions with success.

Analytical skills can be shown through experiences that highlight your ability to research, perform data analysis, and manage projects.

Leadership skills can be highlighted with examples such as effectively managing teams and showing initiative.

Relationship-building skills can be shown using examples of successful customer service and fostering positive client relations.

What are the Top 11 Professional Skills to Include in Your Resume?

LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Report found that the top four in-demand people skills are leadership, collaboration, communication, and time management. We include all of these in our top 11 list of professional skills for a CV below:

  1. Leadership
  2. Communication
  3. Teamwork
  4. Time management
  5. Self-starter
  6. Ability to work under pressure
  7. Conflict resolution
  8. Creativity
  9. Critical thinking
  10. Solid work ethic
  11. Positive attitude

In the sections that follow, we offer more insight into these skills with ways you can effectively highlight them on your CV.

Leadership Skills

Even if you’re not applying for a supervisory position, employers like to know that you can make decisions and take initiative when needed. Some leadership-related skills to highlight on your resume include:

  • Decision-making
  • Delegating
  • Dispute resolution
  • Managing
  • Spearheading
  • Facilitating
  • Mentoring
  • Project management
  • Decisiveness

Communication Skills

Communication is vital for almost every job. At minimum, you will need to be able to communicate with your supervisor and coworkers, but you also might need to communicate with clients, vendors, and customers.

Effective communication means more than being able to express your thoughts and ideas. It includes the ability to listen and be receptive to the thoughts and opinions of others. Some skills related to communication to include on your resume are:

  • Negotiating
  • Persuading
  • Presenting
  • Public speaking
  • Writing proposals or reports
  • Active listening


Teamwork is essential for many positions. Some skills that speak to your ability to work effectively in a team include:

  • Collaboration
  • Networking
  • Team building

Time Management Skills

Time is money, as they say. Employers want to know that you can manage your time effectively and be as efficient as possible. On your resume, include examples that showcase your ability to meet (or beat) deadlines and manage multiple responsibilities.


Your employer wants to know that they will be able to trust you to do your job without much oversight or hand-holding. Use examples where you took initiative or went above and beyond for a project to highlight this attribute.

Ability to Work Under Pressure

You will likely encounter plenty of stressful situations over the course of your career. Employers will peruse your resume for examples of situations where worked well under pressure, such as having to meet a tight deadline or a high sales goal.

Conflict Resolution

Regardless of your position, you are likely to run into interpersonal conflict every so often at work. Employers value employees who can successfully work through disagreements. Conflict resolution and conflict management are both skills that will stand out on your resume and during your interview.


Creativity is not only required for stereotypically creative positions. It is useful for any job where decision-making and problem-solving skills are needed. Skills that speak to creativity include:

  • Dispute resolution
  • Adaptability
  • Critical thinking
  • Design aptitude
  • Innovation
  • Thinking outside the box

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a valued skill because companies are always looking for the best way to complete projects, increase sales, and serve customers. Problem solvers are always in high demand, so show that you can solve the problems faced by the company you are applying to.

Solid Work Ethic

Employers want to know that you will put forth your best effort at all times. If you have a lot of important accomplishments on your resume, it can highlight the fact that you are willing to work hard to get the job done right. Work ethic is a skill that will be easier to elaborate on during your interview, but it is important to establish it on your resume.

Positive Attitude

The workplace is a much happier place when employees have a positive attitude. Though your positive attitude will come through during your interview, it is possible to highlight it on your resume by including skills such as:

  • Initiative
  • Self-motivation
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration

How do I know what key skills are needed for a job?

Key skills are the skills required for a position, typically outlined in a job post. Be sure to review a job post for the key skills listed — both hard and soft — and then choose the ones you can highlight on your resume. This strategy will not only catch the eye of the recruiter and hiring manager, it will also help you get past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that scans resumes for keywords and relevant phrases on resumes.

Where Should You Place Skills on Your Resume?

You should highlight professional skills in several sections of your resume. A few can be scattered in your summary statement, as well as throughout the bullet points in your Work History section. You might also choose to highlight skills in a column on your resume where they are easily visible to a recruiter or hiring manager. Avoid listing them in a section at the bottom of your resume where they might get overlooked.

Incorporate these professional skills for a CV to land you more interviews

The CV skills provided here are an excellent starting point to create a resume that lands you more interviews. For more tips on how to incorporate professional skills into your resume to create an eye-catching resume, please check out Visual CV’s resume guide and Job Search blog.

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