How to Write a Skills Based CV: Template and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 May 2021

A skills based approach is an effective way to format your CV to emphasise your transferable skills over your work experience. There are many different types of CVs available which means that the format you choose will depend on the position you're applying for and the information you wish to present to potential employers. Skills based CVs are often used when changing careers or by those with little work experience to highlight transferable skills. In this article, we discuss what a skills based CV is, when it's appropriate to use and what a great skills based CV looks like, with a template and example.

What is a skills based CV?

A skills based CV, or functional CV, presents a person's skills first and foremost, with work history coming further down the document. As opposed to the traditional chronological CV format, where work history is listed in chronological order, a skills based CV opens with a personal statement and then presents key skills and accomplishments as headings. Beneath each skill or accomplishment heading, provide examples of how you gained the skill and how you have put it into practice. A skills based CV includes the following sections:

  • Name and contact details

  • Personal statement

  • Skills

  • Education

  • Employment history

  • Hobbies and interests

  • References

For a more effective CV, review the job description for roles you're applying for and identify what skills the hiring manager is looking for that you can highlight in your CV. If you're applying for multiple roles, prepare several versions of your CV to highlight skills relevant to each role.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a CV

When should you use a skills based CV?

As skills based CVs highlight skills more so than work experience, they can be most helpful to use when candidates have relevant skills for a role but might not yet have previous experience in a similar position. Some examples of when you might wish to use a skills based CV include:

  • If you are changing your career and don't yet have experience in the new job role

  • If you are changing industries and don't have experience within the new industry

  • If you have recently finished school, college or university and don't yet have relevant work experience

  • If you have gaps in your employment history that are longer than several months to a year

  • If your work experience consists of short term roles or internships only, rather than extended periods of employment in one position

  • If you have held several positions that are very similar

If any of the above situations apply to your current circumstances, then a skills based CV could be a great way for you to show employers your relevant skills, without placing as much emphasis on work history. However, if your work history is extensive, with relevant experience and demonstrated progression within previous roles then you may wish to consider a chronological CV format. A chronological CV will highlight your work history and progression.

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Writing Your CV

Skills based CV template

The following template will help you to write your skills based CV, simply fill in each section with your own details:

First and last name
Email address
Contact number

Personal statement
Your personal statement creates the first impression an employer will have of you, so be sure to put some thought into how you wish to present yourself. It should be a brief overview of who you are, what you are looking for and why you are a great candidate for the role. You should personalise this section to every role you apply for, always review the job description and ensure you highlight how you match employers' requirements.

Remember that this format of CV emphasises your skills, so you can mention your top one or two skills briefly in your personal statement and you'll have the opportunity to elaborate further in the CV.

Key skills
As a skills based CV format focuses on your skills, carefully consider your key skills to ensure you're clearly presenting what you offer. Review job descriptions and person specifications if available, and consider what skills you have that meet the role's requirements. The skills that are essential to success in the role, plus any relevant skills that you're an expert in, can make up the main body of the key skills section.

You may wish to format each skill as its own heading. Then beneath the skill heading, include a paragraph or bullet points offering tangible examples of how you developed the skill and how you've put it to use. Any specific examples that you can provide where you've successfully demonstrated the skill to the benefit of yourself or your company can be included here.

Although you can include as many skills as you wish, three to six skills is a good amount. Remember that your CV should be approximately two sides of A4, with a font size of 10-12pts, so if your CV is much longer then you may wish to remove any irrelevant skills or make your bullet points more concise.

Structure this section as follows:
Degree or qualification type
School, college or university name and location
Dates you attended and graduated. For simplicity, you may wish to include month and year only. For example, from September 2017 to June 2020

For recent graduates, if you have little work experience you may wish to expand the education section further by including modules, subjects and relevant extracurricular responsibilities. However, if your work experience is more valuable for the role then keep the education section brief to allow room to provide more details about your work experience.

Employment history
Include clear job titles, dates of employment and a brief description, listing roles in chronological order with most recent experience first.

Beneath each role, bullet point achievements and highlight some examples of how you've succeeded in the role. If you're able to quantify your achievements, such as ‘increased X by 15%', include this information to show hiring managers what you can bring to the role.

If you don't have a vast employment history, expand on the education section rather than including less relevant details in your employment history section. However, if your work history is extensive, you can reduce this section to only include your most recent experience.

Hobbies and interests
This is optional, so you may wish to skip this section. However, if you have interests that apply to the role you can include them here. This is a great way to show employers you're passionate about what you do.

For example, if you're a social media manager and have a personal blog or offer freelance social media management services this could be beneficial to the role.

While you should prepare some references in advance, it's acceptable to advise employers that references are available upon request unless the job listing specifically requests them. You can format your references as follows:
Reference's name | Job title and company | Relationship to you | Email address

Alternatively, you can simply state References are available upon request.

Read more: How to Write a CV Employers Will Notice

Skills based CV example

The example below is a skills based CV for a sales representative:

*John Smith
+44 (0)7700 900706
123 Wood Lane, Wood Green, London, EN3 8JH

Personal statement
With a proven record of increasing monthly sales by 15%, I'm confident in my ability to consistently exceed sales targets and l would look forward to rising to the challenge of emulating this success in a role within your sales team.*

Thanks to my background in customer care, I pride myself on my ability to build a strong working relationship with clients and enjoy the challenge of problem-solving when clients have a less than perfect experience.

Combining both my sales and customer care skills, I believe I can be a great asset to the sales team and look forward to growing a diverse client base for the company.

Key skills

Communication skills

  • Regularly reaching out to new clients and effectively educating them on our products and services has enabled me to grow my client base has by 300% in my current position

  • Communicate professionally and efficiently with colleagues, whether that's through email, telephone calls or during monthly sales presentations

  • Voted most charming salesperson for three months in a row

Target driven sales

  • Regularly exceeding monthly sales targets

  • Confident upselling skills, with an average of 1 in 4 clients adding on to their planned purchase

Collaboration and teamwork

  • Frequently collaborating with the customer care team to troubleshoot and resolve issues to maintain client satisfaction

  • Liaising with colleagues in the marketing department to assist in organising trade and networking events

  • Supporting sales colleagues and encouraging peers during busy periods

BA Business Administration (2:1)
University of Nottingham, U.K.
September 2017 to June 2020*

*Employment history
Sales Representative at P&J Ltd., London
November 2020 to present
My role entails meeting new clients, reaching out to prospective clients and pitching our services. Onboarding and product education has allowed me to build a strong customer base at P&J ltd. During my time here I've developed my sales and communication skills, which has allowed me to become a consistently high performer within the sales team.

Customer Care Representative at Swift Company., Nottingham
May 2020 to December 2020
As part of the customer care team, I became a confident problem solver, always seeking to find innovative solutions to client's problems. These skills continue to be useful in my current position, as I regularly seek to provide pro-active solutions to customers' concerns.*

References available upon request.*

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