The Skills Based (Combination) CV

 If you want your next career move to be in an area where you will have a significant shift in responsibilities or move to a different sector, choose a Skills based CV.   This CV highlights skills and achievements rather than the chronology of events.
A Skills based CV can be very useful if you

  • Are making a career transition
  • Want to return to a professional area you worked in earlier in your career
  • When you want to disguise a previous career path
  • Have large time gaps in your CV and/or
  • Have extensive accomplishments in volunteer work or hobbies.

John worked for many years as a Church Minister but for a change of career wanted to move into human resources.  Rosie had been on a career break for several years and need a way of including all the skills and experience she had gained via voluntary activities.  For both John and Rosie, a Skills based CV significantly increased the number of interviews they gained.

Why you need a Skills based CV

Too many potentially suitable applicants fail to get short listed as they do not fit the expected applicant profile.  A Skills based CV can help you to overcome this problem. For the Skills based CV, details of your transferable skills constitute your strong selling points.
Many of the people who will shortlist you will not look beyond the obvious and if you don’t have a typical, ‘normal’ profile you won’t make it into the short list.
However, the deviation from the chronological format can cause confusion or suspicion, (HR people may wonder what you are trying to hide) and the CV has to change significantly according to the positions applied for.  You must ensure that your cover letter sounds positive about your previous work experience and keenness for a new challenge.

 How to create a Skills based CV

In a Skills based CV, the main focus will be on the skills, activities and achievements, which best represent your suitability for new employment, with no account of where the experience was gained.  This is followed by a summary of your career history, and then education and training relevant to the position sought.

 1: Skills based headings

 You provide highly focused paragraphs on specific skills and abilities and this CV encourages the initial reaction of the reader to be generated by your abilities and skills. A recruiter needs to immediately appreciate the suitability of an applicant if they are to allocate precious interview time to them – this provides this.
With a Skills based CV you list your experience under a number of headings; these are chosen to be relevant to the job you are applying for.
For example,

  • administration,
  • communications,
  • consulting,
  • counselling,
  • design,
  • engineering,
  • human resources,
  • management,
  • planning,
  • research,
  • sales,
  • training,

You need to review the job you are applying for, pick out what are the key elements of the job, and provide examples under each heading.  You should also put these headings in descending order of importance. I’d keep the number of headings to a maximum of 6.
Having created your headings, you then need to put 2 – 5 bullets with specific examples of what you have achieved relating to each heading. These examples can be drawn from both your work and non-work lives.

If you are not sure what the headings should be

  1. Identify 6 job ads for the type of job you seek, you can also find some very useful information from the National Career Service. Look at the profiles on their site:

  2. Identify which key skills are requested in all ads. Go through and put in descending order so if a skill is only sought in 50% of the job ads you would include this lower down.

  3. Make a note of your experience against these headings.


2: Brief employment history

 An organisation will still want to know who you have worked for, but as this is not the main focus it comes after the Skills based headings. I would keep this brief but would include employer, job title and dates. Some people will decide to miss out this section but this looks like you have something to hide.  You must include your career history but brief is fine.

3: Education/Qualifications/ Training

 As with any style of CV you want to include details on secondary schooling and university alongside qualifications, including relevant short courses you have attended.

4: Interests and positions of responsibility

If these will enhance your application, then include them.


Here is an example of a skills based CV for a mature job seeker, although I don’t recommend including details on references. You can use the space for more evidence on what you have done.
and Monster provide a template you can edit

Once you have created your CV why not get in touch to arrange your CV review, so we can make sure it is in tip-top shape!


Published On: April 20th, 2016 / Categories: Uncategorized /

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