A CV – at any age and career level – is tricky. Not only do things change all the time, but ideas differ on how targeted your CV should be. Of course, it should be targeted to the job, but it is also, in essence, your life in numbers and dates. It is raw data of sorts, with your cover letter being where you show your motivation and why you are right for the job.
But whichever way you decide to go – having one CV for each job application or one CV and individual cover letters – you always need to think about what employers want to see.
It used to be hard skills: If you were going to apply to be a secretary in the 1950s, you would show off your typing skills – on a typewriter of course!
But now people change careers more easily and paths are not as straight forward anymore. How many people with an English degree become English teachers or study linguistics? It is all a little blurry.
Enter: the soft skills!
While you can’t apply for just any job (you will still need to know about finance to work in accounting and be able to edit if you go into television), employers believe you can learn a lot on the job and it is more about finding the person with the right personality, mindset and transferable skills.
Soft or transferable skills are, put simply, life skills which can help you in any career (and in life generally). Whether you acquire them in a job, a hobby or through parenting doesn’t matter as long as you can apply them to your future job.
Some of the most common soft skills employers look for are:
- ability to communicate well
- to work well under pressure
- able to work indepentendly and in a team
- conflict resolution
How to acquire those essential soft skills
Truth: you are likely to have most these skills already, you just need to find good ways of showcasing them to your future employer. It is all about thinking outside the box: conflict resolution can be any situation – from work colleagues to your volleyball team, or dealing with a family crisis.
Similarly, you can show your self-motivation by talking about a personal achievement if your former job did not allow for much self-motivation. You could talk about a goal which you worked on, a health journey, or even your journey to gain new hard skills to apply for this particular job.
The point is, these skills are transferable from and to any discipline.
Developing your soft skills
Granted, you can’t be good at everything and you may not have all the skills.
And we can’t. There will always be dominant leaders and those who work better as a team, but you can work on quite a few of these skills to get experience.
For example, conflict is everywhere! Just put yourself in a position where you can help solve it, rather than ignoring it. If you are struggling with time-management, look up different techniques and try what works best for you. You can try them out on your personal life, set goals and to-do lists and find the best way for you to achieve them. This may be splitting tasks onto different days or setting regular reminders or making a time schedule and have a timer running.
Similarly, you can look at what motivates you. Think about your last achievement and what got you there. Did you set yourself a reward? Do you need a challenging task to be motivated? The latter could be a great talking point with your employer and show him how target driven you are.
If you are looking to develop your skills, create situations where you can practice them – at and outside work. If you need to work as a team, find a group you can join and be mindful of your interactions with others. If you need to work on your independence, set yourself a challenge. Take a 30-day challenge from the internet for example and try and complete it. This will also help you identify how you best motivate yourself.