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How to sell your skills on your resume and cover letter
Landing a job interview often comes down to having a killer resume and cover letter, especially in a competitive industry. It’s not uncommon for recruiters and employers to receive hundreds of applications, so it goes without saying that first impressions count.
Here are some of the key components of a good CV and cover letter, as well as how to make your skills shine in both.
What should my resume include?
The format of your resume should differ depending on a number of factors, such as how much experience you have, the industry you work in, and the job you’re applying for. However, as a general guide, most resumes are broken down into two main sections.
The top section is where you should outline your key achievements, abilities, and qualities. The aim here is to succinctly summarise your professional profile in a few relevant points.
The second section describes your job history and responsibilities, which act as evidence to support the skills and achievements outlined in the first section.
Even if you’re just starting out in your career, your aim should be to concisely communicate that you’re a qualified candidate for the job because you have relevant experience and/or education, skills, and achievements – which may have come from on-the-job experience or elsewhere, such as at university.
How to list skills in your CV
Employers will be looking for candidates who tick all the right boxes, so be sure to read the job description carefully and refer to the same skills in your top key achievements section (keeping in mind that you should be honest!)
The experience section is also valuable for highlighting your skills in a more straightforward manner. For example, it could be worth outlining your experience using particular technologies or systems in a past job or at university.
The skills on your resume should be a mix of the following:
Specialist skills – skills related to the specific job or industry, such as experience using a specific computer system
Soft skills – qualities and attitudes that employers value, such as the ability to communicate effectively
Transferable skills – skills that can be used in any workplace, such as effective time management
What makes a good cover letter?
Your cover letter should be an engaging summary of your resume and not simply say the same thing in a different format. Aim to tell a story about why you’d be a great fit for the role while weaving in mentions of your skills and experience. Think of your cover letter as a sales pitch where you have the opportunity to persuade the reader that you deserve an interview.
How to highlight skills in your cover letter
As we mentioned, your cover letter is more than just a list of your experience, so it’s important to showcase your skills in a way that flows naturally as part of your pitch.
For example, if you’re applying for a customer service job you might include a statement like, “As a member of XX club at university, I was responsible for organising and promoting an annual event that was attended by 500 students.”
In this example, the candidate has shown that they have great organisational skills and have results to prove their abilities.
Put simply, your cover letter is an opportunity to impress the hiring manager.