How to present transferable skills in a CV

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How to present transferable skills in a CV

There are many instances where you may need to demonstrate particular skills that might not be apparent from your career history. This can be especially so early on in your career or if you are looking to transition from one career to another. If you see a job you like the look of, know that you can do this but have some concern that your experience may not naturally show the required skills, it may be time to consider how to present your transferable skills.

How do I find what skills are required for a job?

The skills or competencies that your CV will be assessed against will usually be contained within the person specification for the role you are applying for. Every job advertised should have an accompanying job description and person specification. It’s the second part of this, the person specification that we are interested in. This will detail the skills and expertise that an employer is looking for. Gather together two or three example person specifications. Highlight words and phrases that appear numerous times to give you an idea of common key words and phrases.

Rather than looking for specific work experience, some organisations recruit predominantly using a key skills or key competencies approach. This is especially so for organisations that are open to work experience from a broad and varied background. You will be given a specific list of skills in this case to focus on so no further research may be required. ACCA has a competency framework to show skills developed during ACCA studies which are sought after by employers so this can also inform a list of skills you can use in your CV.

Hard skills and soft skills

Skills are usually divided in to hard and soft. Soft skills are common across all industries such as ‘communication’ or ‘organisational’ skills. Hard skills tend to be more focused and can be specific industry skills like ‘financial reporting’ within accountancy or technology focused such as ‘Sage’ or ‘SAP’.  You can choose either hard, soft or a mix of both in your CV. Always be guided by the person specification as to which skills to choose.                       

How to present your skills

Choose around four skills as individual subheadings in your ‘key skills’ section. Write a sentence on how you utilise the skill and what it means to you. Importantly, give a couple of examples of how, where and when you have demonstrated the skill. Giving specific examples is important and focus on the outcomes. It is always the results that are more important than the action. Use facts and figures to highlight both the scale and scope and outcomes of your examples.

Example key skill:


Strong qualitative and quantitative research, critical analysis and report writing skills.

  • Carried out multiple research, dissertation projects and presentations obtaining a distinction in my Master’s degree
  • At Redline Aviation Company carried out research and wrote analysis and reports into the effectiveness of airport security that resulted in 10% improvement in surveillance
  • Collated psychometric data and produced reports to promote health and well-being of veterans at Combat Stress Ltd decreasing hospitalisations by 15%

You can see in the above key skill example that three examples have been provided. Two are work based and one example from University. This shows how you can use examples from any work, education or other experience to demonstrate transferable skills. They don’t necessarily have to come from similar work to that which you are applying for.

Tailor your skills for each application

Although there are some commonly sought after skills within finance, do not just rely on one set of skills in your CV. You should tailor the CV and your skills to each job you apply for you. No two job descriptions are written the same and employers will always be looking for skills that are specific to their own requirements so align your key skills to those of each employer.

This article is written by Neville Rose, Director of CV Writers.

CV Writers are the official CV partner to ACCA Careers.

In addition to a CV writing service they can help with LinkedIn profiles, cover letters and interview coaching. You can get things started with a Free CV Review.

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