A ‘skill’ or ‘function’ based CV is an ideal way for you to show what you have to offer to a potential employer, especially if you have been out of the job market for a while, have had many different jobs or you have gaps in you CV as the emphasis is placed on what you can bring to the table, rather than on your employment history. This means that any gaps in your CV with regards to being out of work are not as prominent as they would be in a traditional CV. But be aware – this does not mean that if you are invited to an interview, that the employer will not ask questions about any gaps in your employment history and that you may have to still explain them.
This type of CV is also sometimes held in regard by more mature job seekers who may be afraid of age bias creeping into the employer’s decision. It does this by taking focus away from dates qualifications and experiences were gained as less emphasis is placed on the ‘when’ and is focussed instead on the ‘how’ and ‘why’.
Skill based CV’s are also an excellent way in which to showcase your most prominent and well developed skills and experiences. The flexible layout of this type of CV means that it is easy to add new skills to as well as being simple to rearrange to order your listed skills in order of relevance to the employer. In addition, many modern HR departments and employers are looking for certain skills sets and criteria to be fulfilled and this method of listing them in a single document can work very well in this scenario. By producing a skill CV, it possible to produce a targeted document which is tailored to the competencies of the job you are applying for.
Writing a tight, targeted and focussed skills based CV that sells your skills to the employer is essential. As with most CV’s, it is essential to keep it as short as possible, with a maximum of two pages being optimal. With this in the forefront of your mind, read our guide for the do’s and don’ts of putting together your own skills based CV.
Things to consider
The secret is in the title! A skill based CV should draw the attention of the reader to the skills you have that are listed in the job description. Well defined sections will help direct the eye and mind to the essential points – remember that first impressions count and this is your chance to make it happen.
In general, a skills CV may be broken down into the following sections:
- Personal information
- Description of your key or transferable skills
- Education and qualifications
- A summary of your work experience
It is essential that the employer knows who they are reading about. Make sure your name, contact address, landline and mobile telephone number, plus your email address (if you check it on a regular basis) are placed at the top of the page and are correct. Omit any superfluous detail such as marital status, number of children, a photograph and nationality as they are simply not relevant, (apart from if you are a foreign national who has residency/ a work permit for the UK). A one paragraph personal profile should be able to tell the employer at a glance if your application is worth pursuing any further so make this count.
Your key/transferable skills
This section contains the really ‘nitty gritty’ of the document and it is well worth spending time researching the job in question and tailoring the skills you list in your CV to the ones they specify in the job description. To keep the document pertinent, you may need to leave out certain skills you have acquired as it is likely that you will not have room to do them all justice but really, does a CV applying for a role as a receptionist need to list your skills as a champion swimmer? The answer is of course, ‘no’. But a position as a receptionist is probably going to specify the applicant to be skilled in typing, communication while also being IT literate, so you would concentrate on these instead.
The key message is to think carefully when drawing up this section. It may be worth drawing up a separate document to run parallel to your skills CV in which is contained paragraphs covering all the skills in which you are proficient. In this way, you will be able to create a ‘pick and mix’ type CV where you can cut out one skill and edit it for another should the job description call for it. A word of caution using this approach though; it would be wise to keep a copy of each CV format produced along with the job description so when you are called in for interview you can refresh your memory with the CV you sent along with your application.
It can be hard to filter out skills of which you are very proud but in essence, you must be cutthroat and remove anything which will not directly enhance your chances of reaching the interview stage.
Education and qualifications
This section needs to cover essential facts only. In this section you must include dates of qualifications or courses undertaken, the grade or expected grade, the name and subject of the qualification itself and the institution/awarding body of the qualification. There is no need to list minor qualifications if they are not relevant to the post you are applying for.
A summary of work experience
Note the use of the word summary here. To keep the focus of the CV on your skills, make sure that this section is also short and factual. Again, dates need to be listed alongside the job title and employer but a couple of short sentences at the most are enough. Remember to include any work experience, paid or unpaid internships and voluntary work.
It is OK to put down ‘references available on request’ as you may have a number of referees who can vouch for you and one may be more suitable to put down than another depending on the job you are applying for. If you list the names and contact details of references however, make sure that you have their permission to do so, so that when they are contacted to act on your behalf there are no surprises for you, them or the employer!
The last word……
As the skills based CV is very specific, it is essential that any facts you place down on your CV can be verified and are truthful and that referees can back up any claims you make within it. It is a handy document to take with you into the interview, to make sure that you do not forget any points as they arise.