You’re more than just a former job title and a task list.

Your employability rests on a set of core transferable skills that should shine from your freshly-polished CV:

Leadership and management

February 2013: People Management Magazine reports that managers and business leaders are struggling with basic management skills, as budget cuts and efficiencies increase the pressure on organisations. Of 1,460 managers surveyed, the issue was so serious that 55% of employers had made ‘leadership development’ a top priority for the year ahead.

If you have the ability to develop others, set objectives, give feedback including praise, hold difficult conversations for managing under-performance, use time and change management, interview and coaching skills, networking and promoting the business, then you have a highly valuable skill-set.

While you may not yet have leadership and management experience, you probably have a wealth of other vital skills that employers want and need from everyone they recruit. Here are the other skills that need to be highlighted in your CV, your cover letter and at the interview:

Communication skills

Communication skills are vital for business, yet employers find that candidates don’t perform well at interview because they haven’t addressed their nerves, prepared their answers or practised being interviewed. And, they reason, if you can’t demonstrate this skill at interview, how can you do it at work?

So develop the courage to speak up for yourself, using plain English and being sure to listen, too.

Be prepared to flex the language you use to help others to understand, explain and simplify complex information, developing your awareness of non verbal communication [tone of voice and body language], too.

The next three qualities go well together, and will affect how you deal with the challenges of everyday working life:


It can be hard to hold on to a sense of self-worth if you’ve taken a few knocks, putting set-backs into perspective and trying again, but that confident decision to welcome a challenge will help you to get out of your comfort zone, try new things and inspire confidence in yourself and in others. And employers will be aware that this will positively affect how customers see their business.

Problem-solving ability

The ability to avert challenging situations before they escalate, and to deal well with problems, complaints and difficult conversations are highly sought after.

Staying calm under pressure

We all face pressure at work, and how you deal with it matters. Experience in taking responsibility, meeting deadlines, dealing calmly with aggression and negativity while staying goal-focussed will help sell you.

Team working

Most businesses are a team effort. We all have different team roles, different strengths and specialisms, all working to a common goal. If you’ve been accustomed to helping colleagues, respecting differences, doing your bit and going the extra mile, then be prepared to talk about it.

Attention to detail

Detail matters – ensuring there are no mistakes in your CV and cover letter will reassure the employer that you’ll be in the habit of reading the small print, picking up potential problems early, locking up securely, handling money well … and allowing spelling mistakes to go uncorrected will give quite the opposite impression.


An finally, no-one wants to work with a sullen, negative cloud of gloom! Smile, stay good humoured and show a have-a-go / can-do attitude to help inspire your colleagues and yourself.

If you’ve used these skills in previous roles, whether at work, college or in private life – highlight them on your CV and cover letter, and be prepared to talk about them and demonstrate them in your behaviour at interview, because employers want them.


For further information, discussions and bookings:

Philippa Hammond


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