How To Display Skill Levels on Your CV (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When the competition for employment is high, it can be challenging to enter the job market. You might be looking to embark on a new career or are just starting out in your first job. Regardless of your work experience, It's important to inform hiring managers of your skills level to improve your chances of securing the position you desire. In this article, we discuss what skill levels are and why they're important, explore the different levels of skills and learn how to include them in your CV.

What are skill levels and why are they important?

Skill levels describe your knowledge and expertise in a particular area. In the workplace, companies usually quantify your ability using four standard terms: novice, intermediate or proficient, and expert. These descriptions help prospective employers quickly gain a basic understanding of your skill levels.

It's important to include the level of skills on your CV to add some context to the skills you have listed. Simply mentioning that you possess skills, such as graphic design and typing, doesn't let a hiring manager know how capable you are of those skills. By indicating the levels of your skills, you might gain an advantage over other candidates.

Related: Transferable Skills To Help You Succeed (With Examples)

What are the different levels of expertise?

Here are the different levels of expertise:

  • Novice: This is the first level of skill acquisition, where you're just getting started with the skill and are a little familiar with it. If you're a novice at a particular skill, you may need guidance on how to perform it to complete any task.

  • Intermediate: If you possess intermediate skills, you are able to successfully complete tasks as requested. You may need help from an expert from time to time, but you can usually perform the skill independently.

  • Advanced: You can carry out the actions associated with this skill without help. You are capable of helping others develop the skill.

  • Expert: You can troubleshoot, provide guidance and answer questions related to the field where the skill is necessary.

How is skill level measured?

Employers usually use skills assessment tests to gauge your skills and abilities. These tests can assess whether you have the skills necessary to perform various aspects of a job. Companies find these tests useful for eliminating candidates who might be underqualified for a position. Here are a few types of skills tests and what they evaluate:

  • Hard skills test: These types of tests measure your skills in a specific area, such as typing, math or software development.

  • Work sample test: These tests resemble certain tasks that companies expect employees to perform in their position, such as technical coding tests, case study presentations and situational judgment tests.

  • Cognitive ability test: This test assesses how you would perform in unexpected situations. Companies do this by assessing your ability to think abstractly when using verbal and numerical reasoning skills.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Hard Skills

How to include skill levels on your CV

Here are the steps you can take to demonstrate your skill proficiency on your CV:

1. Evaluate your skills

Begin by assessing your skills and abilities. You can take a hard skill, cognitive ability, personality or a work sample test to determine the level of your knowledge of a specific technology or concept. A career coach or a trusted friend can also help you evaluate your skill level, especially when you are deciding how to rate your soft skills.

2. Colour-code your skill level

Using colours can be a creative way to make the hiring manager take a closer look at the skills you listed on your CV. When colour-coding, make sure to combine accent colours to create a hierarchy. For instance, you can use orange for your novice skills, yellow to represent proficient skills and green for those you are an expert in. You can also use different shades of one colour when highlighting skill level on your CV. For instance, you can use sky blue, navy blue and deep blue to present your skill proficiency levels. Whatever colour-coding method you use, make sure to include a key to discuss what each colour represents.

3. Categorise skills based on skill level

Another way to highlight your skill level is by categorising them according to your knowledge of each. This can help an employer identify skills you're good at and areas that you need to improve. For instance, you can group your copywriting, email marketing and task delegation skills if you are an expert in those areas. You can then place your time management, verbal communication and critical-thinking skills in a group to show you are proficient in them.

4. Consider using graphics

Using graphics can be a unique way to show the level of skills on your CV. You can create a skill-level chart to tag skills at an expert, proficient, intermediate or novice level. Make sure to minimise the use of graphics and use simple designs, as companies usually use an automated applicant tracking system (ATS) that can reject your CV before a hiring manager reviews it if the system can't read your application well.

Related: What Is Graphic Design? A Comprehensive Guide For Beginners

5. Categorise your hard and soft skills

You may also express your skill level by first categorising soft and hard skills before you indicate your level of expertise beside them. For instance, if you're an expert in a specific web analytics service, you can indicate it in your CV's technical skills section. Likewise, you can tag your communication skills and place them in the soft skills section.

Tips for displaying levels of skill proficiency on your CV

Here are a few tips to help you demonstrate the levels of skill proficiency on your CV:

Be honest

Including skill level in your CV can make a hiring manager interested in your application and improve your employability. However, make sure your evaluation is sincere. Although you can mention novice skills, it's important to mention the steps you are taking to improve them. This can make your CV more attractive to a hiring manager than only listing your expert skills.

Related: What Is Integrity? Definitions and Examples

Use a template

Using a template can make it easier to highlight your skill level on your CV. A good template can give you an idea of how to use colours, and it may come with charts or graphics to show your skills level. Make sure you select a professional CV and use the same font throughout to leave a great impression on employers.

Think about how to quantify your skills

Although words such as expert, intermediate and novice are acceptable, you can use other ways to describe your levels of skills. For instance, you can use a scale from one to five to represent your experience and knowledge of applying a specific skill. You can also use percentages or graphics to mark a skill as novice, intermediate, proficient or expert.

Choose skills that are relevant to the job

Before you include skills and your skill proficiency levels, review the requirements of the position. Then, identify which skills to include in your CV. Determine the required expertise needed to perform a particular job duty and consider it when assigning a skill level on your CV. If possible, include more expert skills than novice skills.

List your hard skills before your soft skills

No matter how a job advertisement lists the required skills, make sure you place hard skills before soft skills. This can help the hiring manager easily identify your job-related skills. After listing these skills, you can include skills that are relevant to your personality and work ethic.

For instance, assess your ability to use the latest technologies or software or common office tools before you indicate the levels of your communication and interpersonal skills. In addition, list the skills you're most experienced in first. Listing expert skills before those you're currently learning can help attract the attention of the hiring manager.

Use columns and horizontal spaces

There are several ways of formatting your skills section. For instance, a bullet list, categorisation and expanded bullet list are common methods. Determining the best way to demonstrate your level of skills and formatting your skills section properly can increase the readability of your CV. Organising your skills horizontally and in columns can help maximise your skills section's space.

If you're not sure of how to show your skill proficiency on your CV, consider reviewing CV examples on job posting websites. There are several job posting websites today, such as Indeed, that provide free CV samples. Note how other job candidates demonstrate their skill proficiency levels and use a similar approach when reworking or writing your CV.

Review your levels of skills periodically

As you gain more experience and develop new skills, review your CV and update your skills. Updating your proficiency rating can improve your suitability for the job you're applying for. For instance, if you stated you were a novice in mobile marketing, consider updating your skill level after acquiring relevant work experience as a digital marketer.

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