Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The 5 Human Skills You Need to Highlight On Your CV – And the Ones Employers Should Be Looking For in New Hires

Whether you’re an employee looking for the next big thing and you’re wondering what to include in a CV, or you’re an employer looking to find – or keep – the best staff, these are the five skills you NEED to focus on.

“As the workforce continues to evolve, more and more employers have started to focus on seeking not just technical skills, but human skills when they recruit, promote and develop their workforces,” says Frances Bearne, an internationally certified executive coach, team coach, people and culture consultant, and founder of Human Focus Consulting. “Human skills, sometimes known as ‘soft skills’, such as resilience, proactivity, critical thinking, collaboration and empathy have become more important following the rise of digital and AI technologies.”

To put this rise into perspective, a McKinsey report discovered that, depending on the adoption scenario, automation will displace between 400 and 800 million jobs by 2030, requiring 375 million people to change job categories entirely.  

“I’ve witnessed how the fall out of the global Covid-19 pandemic – lockdowns, remote and hybrid-working, economic pressures and more – has put a spotlight on human skills,” she says.

Read on for what Frances reckons are the skills that are the most valuable for both employees to have and what to include in a CV, and employers to look for in this new job market as workers take advantage of The Great Resignation – while bosses try to keep hold of their staff and hire the best in an employee market.

What to include in a CV according to Frances:


We’re experiencing a fast rate of change in the workplace, both within the organisation and factors thrust upon us by outside forces. This presents challenges, where employers value employees who demonstrate resilience and adaptability – the skills to manage change and pressure, recover quickly from difficulties and still perform well.

These factors are an extensive and ever-evolving list – the rise in hybrid and remote working, shifting priorities and expectations from clients and customers, the “juggle” people feel with work, home and other interests pulling us in different directions and technology always forcing us to be “on”. Whether that be through the traditional email and mobile, or Teams, Trello, Slack or a mixture of them all, the ability to manage pressure and still work effectively and efficiently is one of the top human skills employers seek – and what you should include in a CV for sure.

In addition to this – resilience and adaptability are both essential for innovation – to be innovative we have to be comfortable thinking beyond the expected, pushing boundaries, and potentially failing and still continuing – the ability to take knocks, learn from them and keep going.


During my consulting work, workshops and Human Focus Consulting training sessions, I’ve seen how proactivity is important to organisations of all sizes as they become increasingly agile, adapting quickly to market changes both internally and externally. Employers want employees who are able to move at pace and who can proactively contribute ideas, ask for feedback, take that feedback or additional information on and independently put into action what is needed – without the need for constant oversight and direction for ideas.

In a time of digital transformation in business, computers must be programmed, however humans can take their own initiative – making proactivity an essential human skill.

Critical thinking/Insight

More than ever, information and data are considered crucial for unearthing the insights a business needs to operate smoothly and garner success. Information helps drive business decisions, allowing employers to understand the areas they excel in, and the areas they need to improve in – through gaining efficiency, building productivity or generally being more effective at what they do. While technology can produce numbers, it takes humans to analyse it, bring it to life and obtain the insights that add value and allow for informed decision making.

Critical thinking is the mental process of evaluating information and determining how to interpret it to make a sound, reasoned judgement that is logical and well thought out. With increasing financial pressures on employers – this skill is something employers need in their employees to stay ahead.


Collaboration in a workplace involves a group of people sharing their ideas and skills in order to achieve a common goal. Collaboration has always been important in running a cohesive, joined-up and efficient business – allowing everyone on the team to communicate and share their experience and skills to get something important done.

However, collaboration isn’t just important for achievement – which research as well as recent discussion and feedback from my clients shows – feeling part of a team that communicates well and knows how to effectively work together is a core part of employee wellbeing/satisfaction.

With Covid-19 forever changing the way we work – either through remote or hybrid working, mask wearing in the office or remaining a suitable distance away from our colleagues – the way we collaborate and communicate has changed. However, the need for it within a successful business has not, for both achieving business goals as well as building kinship and fostering a sense of community.

It is those employees who embrace the changes to the ways we communicate and actively utilise and seamlessly work across technology e.g. Trello/Miro/Slack/Zoom/Whiteboards etc to do so, who will stay ahead – empowering teams to work on projects, communicate, and share updates in real-time, thereby reducing the barrier of remote work, and allowing people to digitally “drop by” a colleague’s desk and check in.

Too often now though, perhaps through being used to remote working or simply no longer meeting in person as often – employees will communicate exclusively through technology rather than think about collaboration more holistically. In fact a recent survey from Prosper Insights & Analytics has found that 87% of employees have grown comfortable with digital collaboration, although 56% of respondents find digital collaboration draining as it limits their engagement.

It is those employees who prioritise proactive, clear communication, seek out in person meetings, call instead of use technology when it is required, and understand the need to actively seek opportunities to work together rather than in silo, who will be most sought-after by employers.

Empathy/ Building relationships

Thanks to digital technologies that can process and provide data, people can easily access information but it’s the personal touch, the skill of creating long-lasting and trusted relationships with new and potential clients, customers and colleagues alike that employers are finding increasingly important to find and develop within their employees’ skill sets – and when it comes to what to include in a CV, this is vital.

Employees who have sought-after technical skills will always be important to business, but it’s the employees who have those skills plus the ability to build relationships who are often called “purple unicorns” in the HR world – a term used to describe a candidate or employee who possesses the skills and experience that is believed to be so rare and important, they are almost mythical.

Many employers are moving towards a “human approach” to business – seeking employees who can bring skills beyond those offered by technology, enabling organisations to create products and services that resonate and are tailored to their audience, clients, customers, end users or community’s needs – building a more future-resilient organisation and in doing so, increasing their competitive edge.

Multiple interpersonal skills are important when building relationships: one of the first is having empathy – the ability to understand another person’s thoughts and feelings in a situation from their point of view, rather than our own, which is essential to understanding our clients and customer’s needs, reacting and ultimately anticipating these, fulfilling them and thus building trusted relationships. 

Equally – empathy is important to our relationships with our peers, leaders and staff. Employers seek employees who can work as a cohesive team, understanding each other’s perspectives, forgiving their small mistakes, working through conflicts that arise and collaboratively getting on with the job at hand – empathy is essential to this. 

While some see empathy as a “wishy-washy” or “fluffy” skill – enlightened employers are increasingly aware that employees who can put themselves in other’s shoes – whether that be their clients’ or customers’, their actual employer, or their team -are a powerful tool for ultimately improving profits. Empathy is a big one when you’re figuring out what to include in a CV.

Empathy is integral to the many other skills essential to nurturing relationships with all stakeholders, such as inspiring trust, fostering an inclusive work environment that drives collaboration and encourages employees to listen to one another, while asking quality questions that will lead to better results. Empathy should sit at the heart of a business, anchoring employees through the unpredictable ebbs and flows of today’s working world.

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