Job applications: Selling your skills

Do you know what skills to highlight when compiling a CV, covering letter or application?

You should focus on presenting evidence of the skills and qualities that the employer is seeking (it means you need to change your CV every time you apply for a vacancy), including your academic projects and achievements and also responsibilities you have held during work experience or voluntary activities, involvement in societies, or management of sporting activities.

Recruiters want to see skills and qualities that match their selection criteria. When examining your past involvements more closely, consider:

* What exactly have you done?
* What were you responsible for?
* What were the outcomes?
* How did you achieve success?
* Is there evidence of ‘how’ you have demonstrated relevant skills?

Although it is important to be concise, it is not enough just to list your skills. Where is the evidence? Employers cannot simply take your word for it.

Thinking about how to express the evidence for your experience can also be a challenge. Focus on active verbs. Go to power words for descriptors of responsibilities and language suggestions that may help.

* Consider how your motivation, personal qualities and aspirations reflect the ethos of the recruiting organisation and the post you are applying for.

* Understand the skills and competencies required for the role. This will be transparent where a job specification is made available. It may be more difficult when there is only an advertisement to go on, as is more commonly the case with small to medium sized employers.

* Decide on the best way to sell your skills. Which CV format will you use? What should you to put in your covering letter?

Photo credit: Free Digital Photos

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