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Make your CV stand out amongst the crowd: How to present your skills

By Maureen Lynch, Director of Hays Ireland

You’ve found a new job that you’re passionate about and are eager to apply for, yet in the back of your mind, you are worried a lot of candidates will also be applying for the same role. You’re wondering ‘how can I make my CV sparkle and stand out amongst the rest?’

One of the best ways is to showcase your skills in a way that really speaks to the reader. Employers are less focused on the candidate’s previous job title and experience. Instead, they’re more focused on the skills a candidate has or potential to develop. As Janelle Gale, Facebook’s Vice President of Human Resources puts it, “Skills really matter the most”.

Demonstrate your skills by continuously adapting to work with technology

I’m sure at some point in 2018, you read sensationalist headlines that a robot was going to take your job. And whilst the impact of technology is undeniable, there is, in fact, substantial research that shows technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) will actually create more jobs than it culls. As such, we will all soon (if we’re not already), need to start seeing technology as our co-workers or colleagues – each party needs to work with the other seamlessly to get the right results. As technology mentor, Nadjia Yousif says in her recent TED Talk, “To work these days, you need to be able to work with technology.”

As such, according to PwC, 78 per cent of CEO’s regard AI competencies as the most important asset of a company. And, according to a recent report by LinkedIn, the most in-demand hard skills are cloud computing, artificial intelligence, analytical reasoning, people management and UX design. Therefore, regardless of your job or sector – being able to work in harmony with technology is quickly becoming a coveted skill. So, where possible, showcase your ability to do so via the skills and employment history sections of your CV. Don’t forget to evidence your data literacy and fluency, your ability to interpret and analyse data etc. – when you really think about it, you probably have more skills in this area than you originally thought.

And, if your tech, AI and big data skills leave something to be desired, that’s ok. Ask your current employer about the training opportunities available at your company, or take it upon yourself to upskill in your own time – there are plenty of free training materials available online if you do some digging.

Harness the strength of your soft skills

Whilst hard skills we’ve talked about above are always going to be important (and will always change), as Dan Roth, LinkedIn Editor states “…you always have to have those soft skills too. The soft skills are what enable you to change industries, change jobs, change positions…” In fact, more than 57 per cent of senior leaders today say that soft skills are more important than hard skills.

Below is a summary of the most important soft skills I recommend you make a concerted effort to develop in the months to come, and of course, evidence throughout the skills and employment history sections of your CV:

Creativity

LinkedIn has recently announced that creativity is the most in-demand soft skill out there. And in my view, it’s not surprising. This quote from their blog puts it nicely, “While robots are great at optimizing old ideas, organisations most need creative employees who can conceive the solutions of tomorrow.”

Demonstrating your creativity throughout your CV will essentially tell the reader that you are curious, will play a key role in problem-solving and will be instrumental in thinking of new ideas – all things which will ultimately future proof the business and drive growth. So, detail successful ideas which you’ve implemented on your CV and be ready to talk through them during the interview process.

Key to building your creativity is dedicating consistent time to improving your knowledge and understanding. Always stay curious and anticipatory of the changes that are going on around you, and, importantly, have the confidence to air what you’ve observed with your team and the wider business. Take it upon yourself to listen to webinars and podcasts, watch TED Talks, read industry articles, analyse what the competition is doing and so forth. The more you work to build your foundation of knowledge, the better equipped you will be to propose the creative ideas that will really set you apart from the crowd.

Adaptability

As the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus famously stated: “The only thing that is constant is change”. This statement couldn’t be truer in today’s world of work. Whether it be changes in technology, people, processes or working patterns, one thing is for sure – all of us need to get better at dealing with change to succeed in the future. After all, “An adaptable mind is an essential tool for navigating today’s ever-changing world, as yesterday’s solutions won’t solve tomorrow’s problems.”

So, can you think of a time in your previous roles where you had to adapt to a change in your role? If so, add this to the employment history of your CV, and be ready to discuss this during your interview.

Verbal communication

Increasingly, it’s the inherently human skills which employers are demanding more and more. And no skill is more human than verbal communication.

Despite all the technology around us, clear, effective verbal communication has never been more powerful or more important in today’s workplace. As our CEO, Alistair Cox explains in his recent LinkedIn Influencer blog, strong verbal communication can help us become more productive, collaborate better and build stronger relationships with others.

So, on your CV, highlight your strong verbal communication skills in the skills section, such as public speaking, collaboration, negotiation etc. And, importantly, during the interview process, ensure you let your verbal communication skills shine when either sitting face-to-face with the interviewer or potentially speaking to them via a video link.

Remember to hit the refresh button and update your CV

We’re all living longer, and therefore it’s an undeniable fact that as such, most will have no choice but to work well into our 70s and even 80s. The sheer amount of time we will all be working, and all the change that will take place within that time, means that all of us will need to make far more of a concerted effort to integrate lifelong learning into our everyday lives. After all, we must ensure that both our hard and soft skills are constantly up-to-date in order to stay relevant. However worrying, a key mistake many professionals make is that they simply forget to document all the new skills they’ve learnt. So, whenever you learn a new skill, always remember to update both your CV and your LinkedIn profile, and add these keywords to your CV in way that will ensure it makes it past the algorithms and onto the shortlist.

The key message I want to get across in this blog is that our human skills matter and they matter more than they ever have done before. So, when updating your CV, try to clearly demonstrate to the reader that you have the right hard and soft skills needed to work effectively alongside emerging technology, that you can easily adapt to change, and that ultimately, you are able to, without question, deliver value in today’s ever-changing world of work.

About this author

Maureen joined Hays in 2000 where she specialised in Senior Accounting and Finance recruitment. With over 17 years’ experience, Maureen is the Director for Cork, Limerick and Galway along with over overseeing the Banking and Construction & Property operations in Cork. She also provides training expertise in the area of candidate screening and interviewing.

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