Personal Skills on CV: A Comprehensive Guide
Written by Mike Potter, Author • Last updated on 29 May 2024

Personal Skills on CV: A Comprehensive Guide

Personal skills are a critical element of your CV. In a competitive field of candidates who all display a depth of experience and accomplished technical skills, your personal skills could make all the difference. As such, it’s essential to craft a CV that makes the most of your personal skills and helps you stand out from the crowd. In this article, we discuss why personal skills matter, and provide tips for adding them to your CV.

Personal Skills: What are they?

Personal skills relate to how you communicate with others and how you present yourself in the workplace. They also provide an indication of your behaviour and your approach to work, both in a team environment and with customers or clients. Often referred to on a CV as ‘soft skills’, your personal skills provide a strong indication to employers about how well you fit the role, the team and the culture of the organisation.

Your personal skills can play a crucial role in your chances of success in any given job. The extent to which your personal skills are important, however, will probably depend on the type of job you’re applying for. 

Why Personal Skills Matter on a CV

Applying for jobs is a highly competitive endeavour. Some sources suggest recruiters receive an average of around 250 applications for every vacancy they advertise (1). Many candidates will have the technical skills and experience required for the job, and will be a high-quality match for the job description. As such, anything you can add to your CV that marks you out as different from other candidates can greatly enhance your chances of success.

Your personal skills may even be more valuable than your technical skills for some roles. This can depend on your career stage. For junior, entry-level and graduate roles, employers are more likely to focus on any transferable, personal skills you have than your technical skills or your work experience. For roles like these, employers are often searching for candidates that have the right building blocks for success. In fact, personal skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, work ethic, analytical skills, and written communication are all high on the list of priorities for graduate recruiters (2).

Soft, transferable skills also give the closest indication possible of your future performance in a role. Your technical skills might highlight whether you can carry out the everyday tasks of the role, but your personal skills show how well you’ll fit into the organisation. They show how you’re likely to get along with your colleagues, the extent to which managers will be able to leave you to get on with the job, or how much supervision you might require. If the role requires a large amount of client contact, personal skills are highly influential to your chances of success and your future performance.

Expert tip:

Make sure your CV doesn’t just focus on the personal skills listed in the job description. It’s important to show you have the skills necessary for the job, but save some space to also reference some of your unique skills and qualities. These will help you stand out from the crowd.

Top Personal Skills Any Employer Looks For

While the personal skills required for specific roles will differ to some extent, some personal skills are in-demand almost across the board. The World Economic Forum’s ‘The Future of Jobs Report 2023’ (3) highlights the key skills most coveted by employers around the world. Their findings identify the following skills as the most important for candidates to possess:

  1. Analytical thinking
  2. Creative thinking
  3. Resilience, flexibility and agility
  4. Motivation and self-awareness
  5. Curiosity and lifelong learning
  6. Technological literacy
  7. Dependability and attention to detail
  8. Empathy and active listening
  9. Leadership and social influence
  10. Quality control

Only one of the key skills in the list focuses purely on technical abilities (technological literacy). The rest of the key skills identified across the survey are highly transferable and fall squarely into the ‘soft’ side of the skill spectrum.

"Your personal skills provide a strong indication to employers about how well you fit the role, the team and the culture of the organisation."

Identifying the Right Personal Skills to Put on Your CV

The right personal skills for your CV will depend on the role you’re applying for. Different industries value different personal skills. The skills required can also be heavily dependent on whether you’re working alone or as part of a team, and how much client or customer contact the role demands. Here are some of the key personal skills for different types of roles:

Personal skills for managers

These skills are ideal for directors, senior executives, team leaders and project managers:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Organisation
  • Problem-solving
  • Strategic thinking

Personal skills for sales professionals

The skills listed below are ideal for all types of sales executives, whether in the corporate or retail world:

  • Communication skills
  • Relationship building
  • Negotiation skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Self-confidence

Personal skills for creatives

Take a look at these personal skills for roles in graphic design, web design and development, film, advertising or any other creative role:

  • Problem-solving
  • Creative thinking
  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork
  • Curiosity

Personal skills for finance roles

These skills are suitable for anyone working in finance, whether as an accountant, a bookkeeper, as a financial advisor or in banking or financial management:

  • Critical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Collaboration
  • Resilience
  • Flexibility

Personal skills for hospitality jobs

When applying for hospitality roles, these skills can be useful. Jobs might include food and drinks preparation or event organisation and management positions:

  • Customer service skills
  • Communication
  • Organisational skills
  • Multitasking skills
  • Problem-solving

Personal skills for healthcare jobs

Healthcare jobs such as roles in medicine, nursing or carer positions, tend to require the following personal skills:

  • Empathy/compassion
  • Communication skills
  • Dedication/self-motivation
  • Stress management
  • Time management

Personal skills for education

Whether you’re applying for roles in teaching or training, these skills can serve you well:

  • Leadership
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Conflict resolution
  • Communication/listening skills
  • Patience

Personal skills for graduates

Employers often look for these skills in recent graduates, which show you’ve got the qualities necessary to adapt to the world of work:

  • Problem-solving
  • Adaptability
  • Willingness to learn
  • Analytical skills
  • Organisational skills

How to Effectively Showcase Personal Skills on a CV

Showcasing your personal skills on a CV involves more than just writing a list of skills. You can demonstrate your skills throughout your document, giving you the chance to list many more skills than your skills section alone allows.

Firstly, refer to the job description for a list of skills the employer wants. You can start referencing your personal skills in your CV summary or personal statement. This short paragraph gives you the chance to draw attention to what you consider to be your finest and most valuable skills, whether these are technical skills or soft, transferable skills. Your work experience section also gives you plenty of opportunity to showcase your personal skills. If you reference a personal skill in this section, make sure you indicate the impact that skill made on your success and achievements in the role.

The skills section of your CV is the most obvious place to mention your personal skills. You could either mix these in with your technical skills or create separate lists of technical skills and personal skills. If you have space, include some context and explanation of each skill, showing how you’ve used it in your career to date.

Other places you could showcase your personal skills include hobbies and interests sections, volunteer work and in your cover letter. Your cover letter in particular gives you a chance to really focus on one or two skills that you consider particularly relevant and important, and to demonstrate how you’ve used these in your career to date.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Including Personal Skills on a CV

Avoid these common mistakes when you’re listing your personal skills on a CV:

  • Adding generic skills: it’s essential to tailor your CV for every job application. As such, make sure your skills are reflective of what’s required for the role and avoid using the same skills for every application.
  • Relying too much on the job description: there’s a risk of your CV becoming bland and uninteresting if you focus too much on the job description. Leave some space to focus on the skills that make you a unique proposition for employers.
  • Using uncommon descriptions of skills: it can be tempting to change the words you use to describe your skills, to avoid clichés and to stand out from the crowd. However, most employers use ATS software to scan and review CVs, and if you use an unusual description for a skill, it might not get picked up by the system.

Key Takeaways for Adding Personal Skills to Your CV

Your personal skills form a key part of your unique offer to employers. Every section of your CV is a chance to demonstrate your personal skills, so make sure your CV includes the skills required for the role. CVwizard’s CV templates provide an easy step-by-step process to creating a CV that’s well-organised, structured and showcases your skills and achievements. You can also learn more about how to highlight your skills by reading our CV articles. Sign up with CVwizard today to get started with your perfect CV.


(1) The Retail Appointment: Job Seeking By Numbers

(2) Qureos: 30+ Resume Statistics for Job Seekers

(3) World Economic Forum: The Future of Jobs Report 2023, Chapter 4: Skills outlook

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Mike Potter
Mike Potter
Mike Potter is an experienced copywriter specialising in careers and professional development. He uses extensive knowledge of workplace culture to create insightful and actionable articles on CV writing and career pathways.

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