By: Josie Reynolds

There is a lot of important information on a CV, and it’s the first impression that potential employers have of you. Therefore, it’s important to use it to quickly and concisely convey your best attributes to catch their attention. Especially when recruiters will be sifting through multiple applications, you’ll want to do all you can to differentiate yourself from other candidates. 

But if you have limited experience in the world of paid employment, it can be challenging to know how to showcase your skills professionally. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to show employers how desirable you are, without having a long work history.

Here are some top skills to highlight on your CV if you have limited work experience, drawing on life experiences that transfer to the workplace.

Hard skills vs soft skills

Although you may have completed a course that has provided you with the hard skills necessary to fulfil a job role, there is more weight put on soft skills than you may realise when it comes to employability. You’ll need to showcase both if you want to stand out from the crowd with your CV

Even if you lack some of the technical skills required for a specific role, don’t be afraid to apply regardless. By displaying interpersonal, or ‘soft’ skills, you can show an eagerness to learn, a desire to progress, and a strong work ethic. These will give you a good chance of securing an interview, even if there are areas of knowledge you’ll need to develop. 

Employers are generally aware that there’ll be a degree of ‘learning on the job’ for all applicants, so don’t be put off. The following soft skills are vital elements of a successful CV that will help to show your potential employer that you’re well worth investing in.

Communication skills

Communication is something that we all practise every day, but many job roles are looking for candidates with ‘excellent written and verbal communication skills’. Even if you haven’t been in a professional role before, you’re likely to have plenty of communication experience to fill these criteria. 

Employers want to see that you can adapt your communication methods to suit the appropriate audience. Throughout your education, you’re likely to have given presentations, written essays, and also sent emails to your tutors in a professional manner. These all require confidence and clarity of communication. 

Great communication skills can also come from having life experience of being around people from all walks of life. For example, perhaps you’ve volunteered at a care home and connected with the residents, or have experience helping those with learning disabilities.

Looking at life experiences that demonstrate transferable skills is a great way to reassure yourself that you already possess the excellent communication skills that employers are looking for. Your cover letter is another great opportunity to demonstrate these sought-after skills – keep it professional and tailored to the company you’re applying for to show how you can adapt your communication style. 

Organization skills

Employers want to feel reassured that you can manage your time, be flexible, and adapt to new situations with confidence. If you’ve been a student, you’ve undoubtedly had to organise your time effectively to manage your studies. Reflecting on the ways you’ve been able to manage your workload and priorities all paints a good picture for potential employers of how well you’d cope in a professional position. 


Again, volunteering alongside studying is a great way to show that you can manage multiple responsibilities at a time. Be sure to also list any extracurricular activities, as these also show this skill, as well as giving recruiters more of an insight into you as a person. 

Teamwork skills

Whether you’ve been in a sports team, social club, or on a team-focused expedition such as hiking or sailing, think of times when you’ve worked well with others. Remember that skills are transferable, so it doesn’t have to be a work-specific experience to be valuable within a professional setting. 

Even more independent roles will have elements where professional collaboration is necessary, so be sure not to miss this one on your CV. Showing that you have a team-player attitude, a good level of emotional intelligence, and can communicate effectively in a group will aid you with applying for almost every job role. 

It’s not all about being the leader, either. Try to use examples of when you both led a group and where you took directions with efficiency. This shows employers that you can take advice and adapt yourself to fit multiple collaborative situations. 


Creativity isn’t a skill isolated to creative roles. Employers in all industries will value your ability to problem solve and think outside the box. From turning a problem into an asset, to using an unexpected angle to turn a negative situation around, draw on times you’ve had to think analytically and remain open to new ideas.

You’ve likely been creative many times throughout your life outside of work, so be sure to include these examples to flesh out your CV with examples that showcase your creativity. 

Match your skills to the job description

It’s important when applying for any job that you tailor your CV to the role, and don’t expect the employer to read between the lines. Highlight the specific skills that make you the best possible candidate for the role, even if you feel underqualified in the hard skills aspects. 

If the job description clearly states you’d be working in a team, reword your experiences to highlight the team-focused skills you’ve acquired through them. If they are a creative and innovative company, highlight how you are adaptable, open-minded, and quick to learn new skills. 

By making the effort to mould your CV around the requirements of the specific role you’re applying for, you instantly show your passion and enthusiasm, as well as demonstrate your communication skills.