Careers advice

The most important skills for your NZ CV (+how to list them)

Here’s what employers want to see.

Last updated: 12 April 2024

When you’re applying for jobs in NZ, your CV should be a greatest hits of your professional experience and qualifications that screams to the employer that you’re the person they need in their team.

Essentially, you’re trying to show the hiring manager that you have the requisite skills that will allow you to hit the ground running. This might sound simple, but there’s definitely an art to it. You can’t simply write “I’m good at X, Y or Z” because…well, anyone can do that.

The trick is to tick the skill boxes listed in the job ad by showing how you’ve already implemented them in your previous roles.

But what are the most important skills that employers in NZ want to see on candidate CVs? And how do you go about demonstrating that you really can do all the things they’re looking for? Let’s explore.

The most important skills for NZ CVs

1. Communication

We know it’s a cliche, but communication really is key, and there are very few (if any) jobs that you do successfully without being good at communication.

When it comes to highlighting your communication skills on your CV, one incredibly important thing to note is that communication doesn’t just mean verbal communication. Good written communication is an important professional competency, and your CV is the first piece of written communication an employer is likely to see from you. So, in many ways, your CV itself is representative of your communication skills. Therefore you’ve got to make sure it’s clear; concise and completely free of typos and grammar mistakes.

In terms of demonstrating how you’ve used communication effectively in past professional settings, you could do something like this (remember a good CV format is bullet points):

  • “Engaging with product teams and other stakeholders to ensure clear, audience-focused messaging regarding our core offerings”. (Marketing CV).

You'll want to show that you can communicate with colleagues from different backgrounds and specialities.

2. Problem solving

Things going wrong is a fact of life, but what employers want to know is how you respond when something goes pear-shaped, whether or not it was your fault. Do you stepaside and wait for someone else to fix the problem, or do you take the initiative and do what you can to turn the situation around? Here’s how you could demonstrate your problem-solving skills on your CV:

“Successfully resolved a critical production issue by conducting root cause analysis, collaborating with stakeholders to identify potential solutions, and implementing corrective measures to prevent recurrence.” (Factory and production CV)

Of course, you don’t need to wait for things to go wrong before you make improvements to company processes. If you’ve taken proactive steps to help past businesses, this also shows creative problem solving capacity, for example:

  • “Identified key bottlenecks in the existing supply chain process and devised innovative solutions to streamline workflows and optimise resource allocation.” (Supply chain manager CV).

3. Adaptability

Even if you’re applying for a specialised role, employers will be keen to know that you can switch things up when the moment calls for it. This might be to exploit a new opportunity in the market, to deal with an unexpected setback or just to try something a little different.

Adaptability is even more important if you’re working for an agency style organisation where you’re likely to work with a variety of different clients on a daily basis. Here’s how to show your adaptability:

  • “Demonstrated versatility in working with a variety of programming languages and frameworks, including Java, Python, JavaScript, and React, to develop scalable and efficient applications for diverse clients and industries.” (Software engineer CV).

4. Customer service skills

Even if you aren’t working in a directly customer facing role, many modern Kiwi companies want their employees to have a customer focused mindset. This means that even if you’re working in a backroom capacity, employers want their staff to be considering the customer at every step of delivering their product or service.

Demonstrating your customer service skills on your CV could look something like this:

  • “Collaborated closely with clients to understand their business goals and financial challenges, offering tailored solutions and strategic advice to optimise their financial performance and mitigate risks.” (Accountant CV).

5. Computer literacy skills

These days, there are not very many jobs at all that don’t require you to use a computer or digital tools to at least some extent. When talking about computer literacy skills on your CV, you really need to focus on how you will use these tools in the role you’re going for. It’s not really much use to an employer that you’re awesome at Microsoft Word, for example, unless you know you’re going to be using that specific programme.

“Demonstrated competence in navigating hospital information systems to retrieve patient lab results, diagnostic reports, and other medical records, facilitating timely and informed decision-making by healthcare providers.” (Nurse CV).

It's hard to find a job that doesn't require some degree of computer literacy.

6. Time management

Even if you’re highly skilled in your chosen career path, you’re going to be of limited use to an employer if you’re so bad at time management that you’re forever missing deadlines or forgetting important meetings.

Given that people manage their time in different ways, employers are often interested to know the specific tools and tactics that you use. You can demonstrate this to them effectively on your CV like this:

  • “Prioritised and triaged customer requests based on urgency and complexity, ensuring timely resolution of critical issues and escalation to appropriate departments as needed.” (Customer service agent CV).

7. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is important for all sorts of reasons, like being a good co-worker, and being able to really understand the problems and desires of your customers. This particular soft skill takes on an even greater importance if you have ambitions of getting into a management position, as being aware of your reportees’ emotions is crucially important to successful managers.

“Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to build rapport and establish trust with clients, media professionals, and internal team members.” (Public relations (PR) CV).


Al Hall
Al Hall

Al Hall is a regular contributor at Trade Me Jobs and Trade Me Property. He’s dedicated to helping people succeed in their aspirations to find their dream job and place to live.