The top 8 skills and attributes an employer wants to see on your CV

When an employer creates a job advert they often list the main skills in which the potential candidate needs to stand a chance of getting an interview. However, what you will not usually see is a list of personal traits or attributes, which can also be described as ‘soft skills’.

The specific or hard skills, like operating machinery, are the first thing that springs to mind when writing a CV. Obviously, you need to cover as many of these hard skills as possible on your job application, and some employers expect them all to be listed. Soft skills are equally important as they enable an employee to function efficiently in the workplace and use their skills and knowledge to their full potential.

There are literally hundreds of different personal attributes, so to help you understand which are more important, here are the top 8 soft skills an employer wants to see on your CV:


Having good communication skills is probably one of the most common personality traits to need in the workplace. With a few exceptions, most jobs require a minimum standard of communication skills in order to function efficiently within a working environment.

“Good communication is integral to business success,” explains recruitment expert Martin Carline who co-manages a busy careers website, “It creates better customer relationships, increases employee engagement and ultimately results in a more productive and talented workforce.”

A sales or customer service role would, of course, require a very high level of communication, and a job seeker should focus upon this heavily when writing a CV. A job in the industry of journalism would require a high level of written communication, and possibly verbal as well.

Team worker

Working well with other co-workers is an essential part of any team. All egos have to be put to one side, and a common goal needs to be achieved and focused upon at all times. Even as a salesperson striving to make as much commission as possible, you’d still be expected to work with other sales staff and help each other when needed.

Having a friendly and positive attitude will contribute heavily to your ability to work well with co-workers. Your approachable personality and willingness to help out others should be second to none.

Teamwork has many benefits according to the Australian Institute of Business: including increased efficiency, idea generation, mutual learning, enhanced communication, the ability to share the workload and the creation of a support network. With so much to gain, don’t be a glory hunter and instead look at the bigger picture.

Honesty and integrity

Mistakes can happen from time to time, and a company would value an employee who admits their mistakes and provides honest and accurate feedback. Having integrity in the workplace creates a more realistic view of daily results. In any case, you have to fail many times before you succeed, according to Yo Sushi’s founder Simon Woodroffe.

Your boss wants to know exactly what’s happening, and even though it might seem like a good idea to exaggerate the results, it won’t help drive the business forward in the right direction.

Accurate performance

The claims you made on your CV and during the interview have to hold weight. When you’re finally hired and are ready to show the boss your talents, it would be a shame to let them down with lower performance than what was expected.

Liz Ryan, CEO/founder of Human Workplace, thinks there are some things you can fudge on your CV. For example, you might want to alter your official job title for clarity; and you might want to list job responsibilities that you did which were not official. “If you did the work and can talk about it, claim it!” she explains in her blog on Forbes.

However, you need to be honest with what you have to offer and avoid exaggerating your skills and achievements. Your CV’s list of competencies should not closely match the job requirements just because you decided to make them do so. Even if you have the main skills but lack in the more fundamental ones, like typing or spreadsheet use, you should look to train in these areas rather than gloss over them.

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Work ethic – reliable

Having a strong work ethic is vital to every employer as they want to be able to completely trust their workforce. This means that deadlines will be hit consistently and employees will arrive to work on time.

A lazy employee will make mistakes and hinder the team’s progress. A hard-working one will contribute much more and create a positive impact on the business. Write a CV that demonstrates your work ethic with past examples of outstanding performance.

Resilience and determination

Every employee faces a challenge each and every day. No matter how large, small or frequent these challenges present themselves, an employer wants to know they are in safe hands.

“Resilient people are better able to deal with the demands placed upon them, especially where those demands might require them to be dealing with constantly changing priorities and a heavy workload,” explains personal and professional development coach Barry Winbolt.

A determined individual will persevere until the job’s done – never quitting. Having a resilient personality can also pay dividends when it comes to facing a difficult challenge. That could be in the form of an angry customer or a systems failure which shuts everything down. Someone who can handle the pressure and remain level headed will stand a far greater chance at overcoming any challenge.

Willing to learn

Moving forward with a company or striving for promotion takes an open mind. An employer is looking for someone who’s willing to accept they are not always right and don’t have all the answers.

An employee who is stubborn enough to think they do the job to perfection is a very unwise one. You should openly admit you need help from time to time. Training and developing should always be at the forefront of your employment, as opportunities may arise.

“Successful people never stop learning,” Bill Driscoll, a district president for Accountemps, explains. “The world is changing quickly and constantly, and it’s vital to stay informed of the latest trends and sought-after skills in your industry.”

When a promotion is up for grabs an employer will look to someone who has constantly developed over time.

Open to change – flexible

No role ever stays the same forever, and the same can be said about a business. There are hundreds or even thousands of constant variables all shaping the future of a company. Some can be predicted, whilst others are unexpected and completely out of the control of the employer.

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When change comes the employer needs to rely on its workforce to roll with the punches.

“At times, all of this uncertainty can be overwhelming, but you can’t let it frustrate you,” implores Business Consultant Larry Alton, writing in Forbes. “Change is what ultimately drives growth, so you have to be willing to accept it.”

Moving forward with the business might mean a change in responsibility or a move to another department or branch. If a change is met with resistance it serves to frustrate those around you and cause issues.

An employee is potentially on board for the whole journey, and this will inevitably mean being flexible and adaptable to the environment.