Writing your CV can be a very complicated exercise.
We all like to think we have a pretty good handle on what stands out on a great CV. We understand what skills recruiters and business owners are looking out for the most and try and craft our applications around them. Yet, often, when we hit these key points, we still end up getting rejected at the first hurdle.
It’s very easy to get frustrated trying to put your best foot forward and show your best qualities while also balancing them with the expectations of people in the recruitment industry who are looking for some in particular.
There are new ways to stand out though. If you think your CV needs something a bit different to get noticed, here are a few key skills that might go underappreciated in everyday life, but look fantastic when highlighted on your CV.
1. eCcommerce Experience
One of the very best industries you can work in to gain the varied skill set that truly sets you apart in today’s overcrowded job market is eCommerce.
eCommerce is one of the hottest and fastest-developing industries in the world today. Having insider knowledge of this industry — even if you don’t have long-term aims to work within it — can set you in good stead for the changes and challenges many industries will face in the coming years as they attempt to move online to appease customer convenience.
By including eCommerce work prominently in your CV, you’re telling a recruiter you have a diverse skill set. Working within an eCommerce company likely taught you basic business management, marketing techniques, and practical skills that will prove invaluable in the modern working world.
Many eCommerce startups are small in scale with staff fulfilling multiple roles. Recruiters know this, and see these roles on CVs as a sign of someone who is happy to jump onto the most pressing tasks and has developed in a demanding work environment.
This is particularly relevant if you’ve had the bravery and ambition to run your own small eCommerce store. While entrepreneurship of all kinds looks amazing on a CV, running your own online store is a sign of drive and suggests the candidate knows how to read the changing winds of the market.
This is even more true of dropshipping (if you’re unfamiliar with the term, here is a guide that provides a great overview), which, when featured on a CV, tells a recruitment team you’re able to spot emerging trends and collaborate with other industries to keep your business running effectively and make a profit.
Likewise, experience within eCommerce on a CV reveals a candidate who can — and wants to — grow within a role. These roles, particularly in startups and small businesses, can be incredibly demanding.
If you spent a significant amount of time within it and have the experience to show for it, an eCommerce role can be a sign that you were able to develop as a professional and learn a variety of new skills that may not necessarily align with your educational background. These skills are often a great mix of practical and technical skills, as the industry blends digital practices with more traditional physical work in the sense of packing orders and presentation.
We would advise finding some work within a small business in the eCommerce industry, or give starting your own small scale online store a try. If you’re crafty you can sell your wares quite easily through an affiliate store or existing platform, or delve into the world of drop shipping if space is an issue. It will help add a unique role to your CV that can take you down a number of different professional avenues.
Sometimes the skills that really stand out and catch the attention of recruiters and employers are non-specific. They’re less rooted in a practical, physical action that can be observed, difficult to give examples of, and hard to sum up in a couple of words. They’re skills that just shine through on the page and give the sense of a person who is more well-rounded by their experience. Self-reflection is one of those skills.
There are few things more important to have as a potential candidate than self-reflection. Although it may not be something you can list next to an impressive grade or include as a sign of increased profit margins, it tells the person reading your CV everything they need to know about your personality and approach to work.
A candidate with great self-reflecting skills understands how to truly develop within a role. They don’t just say they applied the lessons they learned in previous roles to their current one, they have tangible evidence. They don’t just act as if a former colleague has been a mentor with wise words of advice, they show that through consistent improvement within the role coupled with a great reference.
Self-reflection is vital for anyone coming into a role with responsibilities that will be new to them. Employers know that hiring the finished article is almost impossible. Every new job comes with a huge amount of challenges regardless of your experience, even if it’s just mastering the procedural elements of the position.
This is why they look for candidates with the ability to reflect on themselves and their experiences. It’s vital that you look to get this across when writing your CV and know how to back it up when it comes to the interview process.
3. Writing Skills
Even if the role you’re applying for isn’t necessarily one that demands a huge amount of creative skills, having a CV that both presents and provides evidence of good writing skills can tell an employer a lot about you and your versatility as a candidate.
An eloquent writing style and evidence of writing experience highlight a lot of excellent traits in a candidate. If you’re not creative by trade or training, proficiency in writing can single you out as a candidate who likes to practice other skills in their free time, understanding the importance of having a varied skillset full of both creative and practical expertise. Likewise, it can show a willingness to do work that is not necessarily natural to you, such as a more technically minded marketer who may have been asked to jump on content creation.
Of course, writing also covers a lot of basic skills that are important for protecting the reputation of a company and communicating with clients, customers, and partners.
A great writer in the digital age doesn’t just know how to write and research a good blog piece but construct a clear and concise email, short-form ad copy that leads to sales and effective coms that make sure colleagues understand the importance and requirements of a task at hand. Basic grammar and the ability to construct a sentence are just as important as ever, so don’t be afraid to play up these skills.
Great writing skills should come through in your CV first and foremost by showing, not telling. It should be clear and easy to read, with an understanding of what your key experience points and skills are and when to hammer them home.
Recruiters and employers will pick up on which CVs are written well and which are poorly constructed, and that can often be the difference between getting to the next stage or not.
In a social media dominated world, very few people can say they have excellent focus. The likelihood is the recruiter looking at your CV will do so between a couple of checks of their phone. That doesn’t mean you should think you can get away with a CV that shows a lack of focus though.
Good focus is, in fact, a skill that can be mastered. More importantly, it’s one of the hottest commodities to be found in a candidate today. There are a huge number of small companies working within tight time and budget constraints who can’t afford to employ a team that spends half of their working day browsing social media.
Likewise, companies can’t afford to be putting out fires all the time because people made simple mistakes in their work due to a lack of focus. Not only does it clog up productivity down the line, but can lead to major embarrassment for the company as a whole.
When an employer is looking through CVs they’re imagining the candidates in everyday situations like meetings with clients, and whether or not they would be a mark against the company. It’s preferable to have focused members of staff and stop the problem at the source.
Focus is something that can be developed over time, whether personally or within a professional position. How do you get that across on a CV though? Artistic skills such as learning an instrument that requires a huge amount of patience can also show focus; just as much as a high-pressure position and evidence of higher educational qualifications can.
5. Customer Service Experience
Most of you reading this will have some customer service experience in your background. It might be your first job working in the local store, some bar work at college, or a call center job you took to tide you over for a couple of months. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got it included in your CV though. Think it’s irrelevant as you’re trying to take the next step in your career? Here’s why it’s not.
Your customer service job may have felt the dead end, but it also probably taught you some essential skills that employers will look for, particularly in young candidates with limited time to gain experience.
As discussed in the writing skills portion of this article, communication skills are essential in a number of positions.
If there are one skill customer service positions absolutely improve universally it’s communication. Customer service requires constant communication between both colleagues and you and the general public. Whether it’s in person, via email or over the phone, this is an essential skill to develop and one that, when placed on a CV with tangible examples, acts as a sign of a candidate who understands how to get messages across clearly and deal with difficult situations following company procedures.
Customer service roles also regularly come with significant responsibility, especially at a disproportionate rate to other jobs you could acquire at such a young age. An outstanding employee can quickly rise up the ranks of a service or customer service position by being trustworthy, elevating them to managerial positions, and giving them responsibilities such as looking after stock deliveries and shop closures.
Customer service roles also require a significant amount of both time management and internal task prioritization. Someone with strong customer service experience on their CV, with a proven track record of rising through the role, will have had to balance multiple tasks at once while also maintaining a strong public-facing image of the company to customers.
This sort of multi-tasking is something a lot of recruiters are looking for in candidates, as teams become smaller and tech companies, in particular, look for multi-talented individuals who can manage a heavy workload. It suggests an ability to adapt.
Of course, there is no set way to write a fantastic CV. Even if there was, every recruiter and employer is different, and wants a different person for their available role. These are absolutely crucial skills to acquire on the road to your dream position though and can open the door to life-changing opportunities if you understand how to present them correctly.