Skills or certificates – what should a CV showcase?

Qualifications Ellis Fox Blog

When applying for a job, a CV is the first impression you get to make. Before a phone call inviting you for an interview, or even the interview itself. A CV sells you and your potential suitability for a specific role.

Much can be said about being suitably qualified, especially in technical fields. But is a degree the only way to further your career? It depends…

Qualifications are not to be sniffed at. They’re hard earned. But consider this: How does what you knew at age 23 when you graduated compare to what you know at age 34 after working in the industry for more than 15 years?

Qualifications may give you the foundation for your career, but they aren’t necessarily what will secure you promotion. A degree is a certificate, confirming you have a certain level of knowledge. But it doesn’t confirm that you can do a job, that you can problem solve, or pull a team together to overcome challenges.

Similarly, someone who has worked in construction for 20 years, may have a far better understanding of what it takes to get a job done, even without a degree. And this is what companies are starting to realise. Having an understanding of how the industry works is as important as having the academic knowledge of how things should work.

Because the reality of how things should work, and do work are often two different things. And in the end, practicality wins out. Being able to finish the project on time or within budget is far more important at the end of the day.

Back to CV’s. What to include and what to highlight? Qualifications are a good starting point. Highlight these. But more important is how you’ve applied that knowledge. This is measured in impact. Have you been able to keep a project on track? Have you been able to deliver on client expectations despite on-site challenges? How have you managed materials price increases and project delays?

Ultimately, regardless of how you started out in your career, it’s the impact that matters.  And this is what should be the highlight of your CV. Finishing projects on time or within budget is a rarity. If that is something that you have achieved, it’s worth boasting about. It shows not only that you know what you ‘re doing, but also that you understand how the industry works. And that you have the skills and experience to overcome challenges along the way.