Skills for CVs: how to include them effectively

31/08/2021 | Santander Universidades

Does your CV pass the 7-second test? According to a report by Deloitte, recruiters spend on average just seven seconds per candidate when it comes to reviewing their work experience. So, you only have a few seconds to demonstrate your skills on your CV and convince them to keep reading. 

Do you want to learn how to present your skills on your CV to ‘pass the test’ and make it an effective job-hunting tool? Let us explain.  

Skills for CVs in a job interview

What skills should be included on a CV?

As explained in the above-mentioned Deloitte report, the key to a great CV doesn't lie in the chronological recounting of your career, but in highlighting experiences and skills. So, when it comes to devising a stand-out CV to apply for jobs, you must be clear about your own skills and what the company needs, which tends to be hard skills such as academic qualifications, mastery of tools and software, or languages.

However, more and more HR departments require candidates with other skills, specifically, certain so-called soft skills. Without going further afield, a study by Jobatus contends that 73% of companies already seek soft skills related to emotional intelligence, attitude and social skills. Likewise, according to the same study, the most in-demand soft skills today are self-management, communications and teamwork.

In spite of this, an analysis by Infojobs reveals that 86% of organisations consider  hard skills to be more important than soft skills, although the latter are becoming more and more relevant and more decisive for roles that require teamwork. Hence the importance of reflecting these in your CV, although they may not be as immediately easy to demonstrate, as an academic qualification or language level.

Bear in mind, however, that mentioning too many skills on a CV may be counter-productive. Are you still unsure about which skills to highlight? 

Let's take the example of a candidate who is a recent graduate and is entering the workforce without experience, no previous jobs to endorse their knowledge and no references from ex-managers or team leaders. In this case, certain soft skills such as camaraderie, adaptability, communications skills and creativity will prove key to presenting themself on their CV. They might even become the main focus of the entire document.

Conversely, if a person with years of experience is looking to change jobs to boost their career, they can better highlight their hard skills through their experience and knowledge of tools, processes and programs -although it's important not to overlook soft skills.

How to introduce skills on your CV

Once you’re sure about what to include, it's time to decide how to present the information. There are many ways to structure a CV and ensure it contains everything you want the company to know about you. Below are some areas you should keep in mind when formulating your CV:

  • A clear, scannable CV: one of the key points when including information is that content must be easy to read and scannable. In fact, clarity and readability can increase the attractiveness of a CV by 40% - 60% according to Infojobs. To do so, it's a good idea to use bullet points, headings and different sections, since the focus during the 7 seconds it takes recruiters to review your CV is on these headers and the details that flesh them out.
  • Visual elements: another alternative is to add a graph, icons or a status bar in which you can show your level or percentage of knowledge or skills for the various competencies. A visual component aids fast information recall and understanding.
  • Editing and extracts: it's vital you don't forget to edit your CV. The opening excerpt is an excellent place for some of the main skills you want to highlight. Likewise, in some cases, it can be beneficial to expand the information on work experience with a brief explanation of the type of tasks you performed in each role.

Given the importance not only of the content but also the structure, as well as a clean, sharp and simple design, it's essential to be aware of a few tools that will help you to make the most of your skills on the CV:

  • Word templates: this text editor offers a range of templates in various styles. To get them, just head over to the official Microsoft website and choose whichever suits your needs best.
  • Canva: this web design and image editing program offers the ability to make custom CVs to further accentuate your cover letter.
  • CV app: a free website that lets you choose from hundreds of pre-designed templates to create clear and well-ordered content.


Skills for CVs

Demonstrate what you write

Highlighting skills on a CV isn't just about writing them down, you also have to demonstrate them.  

For example, do you stand out thanks to your creativity and ability to think outside the box, and you believe that's the key talent for the job? Include it on your CV and demonstrate as much. That's what Adam did when he finished university and decided to rent billboard space to look for work. The sign read "I spent my last £500 on this billboard. Please give me a job." 

Raquel Gómez took a similar strategy. As an excellent negotiator with great stress management, she suggested playing scissors, paper, stone to get hired. Quite a statement of intent that was sure to have dragged the interviewers out of their comfort zone.

Develop your skills

An active job search demands research, strategy and planning. It’s not just about knowing what the other party is looking for, but about conducting an introspective analysis and identifying what you can contribute as a candidate or future employee. However, there’s no denying that it isn’t easy to decide what skills to include on a CV, which mustn’t simply list them -it should also present and demonstrate them.

Enhancing your innate professional skills and improving those you lack through training will prove crucial if you are to increase your chances of realising your career goals. So that you can develop your professional skills, Banco Santander, as part of its contribution to society, is spearheading the Santander Open Academy, through which it offers the chance to train at the hand of prestigious institutions.

To achieve this aim, it focuses on retraining and continuing education, key concepts to accelerate your career growth through lifelong learning in progressive subjects such as technology, languages, studies, research, soft skills, practice and female leadership.


If you'd like access to a range of training programmes to give you a cutting edge on the job market, check out the Santander Open Academy website and develop the skills your CV needs to stand out and achieve your career goals. This is your chance!

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