30 top hard skills for your CV

Hard skills are key for any job and important to highlight on your CV. Here’s our picks for the top 30 hard skills you should feature on your own CV.

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Table of Contents

  1. What are hard skills?
  2. Hard skills vs. soft skills
  3. Top 30 hard skills
  4. 5 tips for featuring hard skills in your CV
  5. How to learn and improve on your hard skills?
  6. FAQ: Hard skills

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are the quantifiable abilities and skills that enable you to do your job. When you’re seeking a new position, unlike soft skills which are more centered on intangible abilities that impact how you approach work and interact with others, hard skills are technical skills that showcase your professional know-how. It is crucial to display that you have the right hard skills when applying for a job. If you do not, it is unlikely that hiring managers will take steps and contact you for an interview. Each job will have its own set of hard skills associated with it.


Hard skills vs. soft skills

While both skill sets are beneficial to a CV, hard skills and soft skills represent different types of techniques that are required to function properly in a working environment. Hard skills show you’re great for a specific job or know how to complete a certain task. They are skills with a provable outcome or point of completion. Soft skills are part of your personality and display how you can interact with others to help achieve common goals. If you’re looking for more information on soft skills employers look for, such as time management, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, adaptability, leadership and a strong work ethic, visit our soft skills page.

Hard Skills

Grounded in what people learn, usually through work experience. They are focused on a specific task and can be taught more easily. To develop hard skills you can take courses to learn new skills or develop the skills you already have. Each role you apply for will have different skill set requirements but they will be needed to perform a specific task.

Soft Skills

refer to personality traits, social competencies, knowledge and abilities used to perform interpersonal activities. These skills revolve heavily around interacting with others and are harder to teach as they are heavily linked to an individual’s personality but represent in demand competences like leadership, communication, strategic thinking and problem solving.

List of Hard Skills

  • Data analysis
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • SEM
  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Foreign languages
  • Cloud computing
  • Photoshop proficiency
  • Graphic design
  • Database management
  • Excel
  • Design skills
  • Google analytics
  • Project management
  • Bookkeeping
  • Spoken languages
  • Adobe Creative Cloud

List of Soft Skills

  • Communication skills
  • Timekeeping
  • Leadership skills
  • Management skills
  • Motivation
  • Negotiating
  • Courtesy
  • Work ethic
  • Collaboration
  • Respectfulness
  • Visualization
  • Independence
  • Perseverance
  • Customer service
  • Dependability
  • Business etiquette
  • Self-awareness

Top 30 hard skills

The best way to get better at crafting your CV is to learn to analyze, describe and group your best skills. Below we have selected and grouped these 30 in-demand hard skills organized under 10 major categories you are likely to see in current job descriptions.

Computer software (e.g., Microsoft Office, Google Docs):

  • Microsoft Office suite (Excel, PowerPoint, Word): These are essential skills for maintaining employment in white-collar sectors.
  • Application programming interface (API): Controlling the ability and maintenance of a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other.
  • JavaScript: A scripting language that enables you to create interactive web content like applications and browsers.

Analytical skills:

  • Data Analysis: Systematically applying statistical and logical techniques to describe and illustrate, condense and recap, and evaluate data.
  • Network Management: The process of administering and managing computer networks along with the subsequent tools and applications.
  • Asset management: A systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading and disposing of assets in the most cost-effective manner.

Accounting:

  • Budgeting: Decision making on the allocation of money to make sure that expenditures do not exceed the income being made is a highly valued skill to have.
  • Quickbooks: Software dedicated to income and expenses tracking, payroll management, invoicing and inventory management.
  • ERP knowledge: Being proficient in the ways of integrating organizational data and processes into a single system.

Finance:

  • Expense reports: Can craft a categorized and itemized list of expenses that were made on behalf of the organization.
  • Financial projections: The ability to use existing or estimated financial data to forecast a business’s future income and expenses.
  • Investment management: The handling of financial assets and other investments — devising a short- or long-term strategy for acquiring and disposing of portfolio holdings.

Social Media:

  • SEO and SEM: Highlighting this skill on your CV shows that you can analyze, review and implement website changes so they are optimized for search engines.
  • Multi Site management: Possessing this skill means you can curate and maintain a company’s online sites using a single, streamlined plan and platform.
  • Client management: Excelling in the ability to manage, coordinate and oversee a company’s interactions between potential clients and existing clients.

Engineering:

  • A/B testing: Essentially an experiment where two or more variants of a page are shown to users at random and statistical analysis is used to determine which is better. Being able to analyze this data is essential when making site improvements.
  • Software development: You have experience in the conceiving, specifying, designing, programming, documenting, testing and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining an application.
  • Production planning: Through careful analysis you can utilize the resource allocation of activities of employees, materials and production capacity, in order to serve different customers.

Marketing:

  • Presentation: The ability to collect and share important information with others in a group forum is a very in-demand skill as it is crucial to cross-team collaboration and marking progress milestones.
  • Google Analytics: You can utilize this program to track and report website traffic, currently as a platform inside the Google Marketing Platform brand.
  • Content management system (CMS): Having this skill means you can use sites like WordPress to help you create, manage and publish content on the web.

Programming:

  • Structured Query Language (SQL): A database language that can execute activities on databases that consist of tables made up of rows and columns.
  • HTML: HyperText Markup Language refers to the code that is used to structure a web page and its content, meaning that being knowledgeable in this area can help with the design and structure of your web page.
  • Cloud applications (JSON, Rest, and RPC): Being able to analyze and maintain cloud storage and computing resources is essential for digital maintenance.

Project management:

  • Scrum: Mastering this project management framework type means that you can make a structure that emphasizes teamwork, accountability and progress toward a well-defined goal.
  • Change Management: Possessing this skill means that you can implement strategies for effecting change, controlling change and helping people to adapt.
  • Strategic Planning: Through a careful analysis you are able to identify an organization’s goals and objectives, and then are able to establish the sequence in which those goals should be realized.

Writing:

  • Technical Writing: the practice of documenting processes, such as software manuals or instructional materials.
  • Copywriting: The act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing, with this skill you can make sure that marketing copy the public sees is persuasive and easily understood.
  • Email Marketing: Using email to send advertisements, request business, or solicit sales or donations. Masters of this skill are able to hook readers quickly and communicate intriguing product details in a few sentences.

Design:

  • Graphic design: Being able to map out problems and put together mock-ups of processes during the design process is a benefit across many fields.
  • Adobe Suite (Acrobat, Illustrator, Photoshop): Knowing these programs and their features help with the design and management of assets.
  • User Interface (UI) Design: Refers to the design of user interfaces for machines and software with the focus on maximizing usability and the user experience. Meaning that if you are proficient in this skill you can create designs and upgrades to systems to make them more marketable and easier to use.


5 tips for featuring hard skills in your CV

The types of hard skills needed to be qualified and successful in a job depend on the industry you are applying for, while there are many transferable skills that can work across different fields you need to feature the hard skills that best fit the job you are applying for on your CV in order to attract potential employers. If you are unsure which of your hard skills best suit your job search, there are a few things you can do:

  • 1. Research the job posting:

    One of the most important things you can do to figure out what hard skills you need to highlight or improve upon is to look at current job postings in your industry and make a list of the common key hard skills you come across. It is important to note both the abbreviated version and full name of said skills as when you submit your completed CV it will be scanned through a company’s specific applicant tracking software (ATS) system where a scoring system is used to make sure that the basic qualifications for application are met. If your hard skills address the job posting, you will be more likely to catch the eye of hiring managers which is why bulleted and custom skills sections are important along with having an easy to read document.

  • 2. Weave skills into all sections of your CV (not just your skills section):

    While your CV should be specifically designed to prove to employers that you have the qualifications they are looking for, unfortunately just listing basic skills isn’t going to accomplish that. Throughout your entire CV there are many ways to not only list but provide evidence for key hard skills. For example in your work history section you can use metrics (like dollar amounts, percents and number of people managed) to show the impact of your skills, like so:

    • Created monthly content with 12-15 posts tailored to each social media platform.
    • Conceptualized unique digital campaigns and posts that resulted in an increase in following of 30%.
  • 3. Showcase specific accomplishments in their own section:

    Your CV, just like your on the job skills will evolve as your career grows so it’s important to customize your document to fit your needs. Whether you’re using a chronological, combination or functional CV you should create a skills section to showcase your proficiencies. For example, in a functional CV, you can create skills sections grouped around major skills, such as languages, software or specified equipment. For further assistance in finding the best way to format your CV look at our CV examples for specific jobs as a guide to help you come up with the best CV skills section for your job search.

  • 4. A summary/objective statement can introduce your hard skills:

    Integrating relevant hard skills doesn’t have to only be done through your bulleted skills list. While an ATS may be the first entity to scan your CV, a recruiter or hiring manager will also consider your application and getting their attention quickly is a must. The best way to do this is to hook them with relevant skills right from the beginning in your summary or CV objective, like this: Driven and ambitious sales professional with a proven history of team leadership and achieving high client satisfaction. Seeking a sales manager position with a fast-growing technology company.

  • 5. List certifications, training or awards

    Creating unique sections on your CV for your specific awards, special skills, training or certifications, not only provide an easy way for hiring managers to verify your skills but also shows you are willing to invest time and effort in your professional development and that you are up-to-date with the latest trends in your field. For inspiration, consider listing trainings or relevant affiliations (in reverse chronological order) like so:

    • Certified Network Computer Technician (CNCT), exp. 2/8/2024
    • CPR & First Aid Certified, American Heart Association (2019)
    • CITC Craft Certification – General Painting for Industrial, Commercial and Residential services (2018)

How to learn and improve on your hard skills?

Whatever your skill set is, it’s likely that you’ve been practicing your specialty for a long time. Whether it’s knowing how to eloquently respond to work correspondence or being able to perform monthly inventory counts, skills take practice and coordination. The same applies to any new skills you want to learn. Being able to develop and back up your most important hard skills is a major advantage for your CV as recruiters will often prioritize those who have official qualifications. If you are trying to develop more CV-worthy skills, here are a couple things you can do:

  • Take the time to seek a recognized certification for skills you already have (or are looking to improve in) like management or leadership.
  • Look into online courses relevant to your industry. You can also take professional courses (some free or low cost) via YouTube, Master Class, Udemy or Coursera.
  • Seek opportunities on the job to pick up new hard skills by working with and shadowing coworkers that have proficiency in skills you’re interested in.
  • Network with colleagues via social media like LinkedIn and see if you can find a mentor for skills you are trying to develop – this is also a good opportunity to get a feel for the skills successful people in your field use.


FAQ: Hard skills

Q: Hard skills vs. soft skills: What’s the difference?

Hard skills are technical skills that concern your ability to do something, while soft skills are non-quantifiable skills that concern how you do things. For example, speaking a second language is a hard skill, while having good conflict resolution abilities would be classified as a soft skill.

Q: How do I know what my best skills are?

Your best soft and hard skills are determined by the evidence you can provide (training, experiences) that confirms how strong those skills are, and how relevant they are to the specific job your want. Assess the job description and the relevant skills you have in order to figure out which are the best to feature, and give these skills priority in your CV or cover letter.

Q: Is there a certain established number of hard skills?

No, any technical skill that is necessary for the completion of a job is classed as a hard skill. There is no hard and fast limit to the number of hard skills you can put on your CV as long as they are relevant to the job description you are applying for, although we usually recommend listing 8-10 skills at most.

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