I'm currently making a CV, using the Europass format. There are two fields where I have absolutely no idea what do make out of them:

  • Communication Skills
  • Organizational Skills

The first one seems rather odd. First of all, communication is only possible if both intervenients speak the same language. In other words, if I were to explain why structuring data in Java using Arrays is/isn't a bad thing to my grandma I wouldn't be communicating properly. However if I were to do so to the fellas over at stackexchange, then I would be communicating properly.

And Organizational Skills. Man, what do you even mean with that. Back when I was a kid, my mom would sometimes cleanup after me. According to her, things were organized, because everything was in a box. According to me, they weren't, because I couldn't find anything.

Not only that, but also, how would an employer even know if I'm lying on purpose, telling the truth, or lying without knowing. Wouldn't that mean he would have to evaluate me in those skills himself? But in that case, why would I need to be the one telling him what I do/don't know, if he's going to evaluate me anyway on the skills he feels that matter the most?

How important is what I say I know?

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    "How important is what I say I know?" What? Seems to me like you need to work on your communication skills. Are you asking if your resume is important? ... – Lilienthal Jul 26 '16 at 9:38
  • Obviously not. I have concrete proof of skills, projects and other experiences I have partaken on. But regarding what it's measurable, I'm skeptical. Anyone can claim to be able to organize a drawer, but what is organized to one, may not be for another. – Oak Jul 26 '16 at 9:46
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    You are misunderstanding the point of both of those fields - communication skills has nothing to do with your specific area of work, and everything to do with how you communicate generally - can you talk to your fellow developers, can you talk to your managers, can you talk to your stake holders or are you just a bubbling mess who retreats into a shell when dealing with others? Organisational skills have nothing to do with being tidy or physically organised, and everything to do with whether you can plan your work day or whether you are constantly fire fighting even the smallest things. – Moo Jul 26 '16 at 10:39
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    One detail of communication you need to think about - you write as though you picture your readers, and especially technically competent readers, as men: "fellas over at stackexchange", "Man", and expecting readers to assume that your grandma does not understand Java arrays. I'm female, 67 years old, and a gold badge holder on the Stackoverflow Java tag. Also, check "intervenient" in a dictionary. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 26 '16 at 11:32
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    i was going to come back and qualify my previous comment - but nvoigt's answer below does the job - you shouldn't just say you have these skills, you need to demonstrate where you've applied those skills in your work – HorusKol Jul 26 '16 at 11:45

You seem to misinterpret these fields. They are to show your soft skills and where you applied them. Look at one of the examples:


Communication skills

  • team work: I have worked in various types of teams from research teams to national league hockey. For 2 years I coached my university hockey team
  • mediating skills: I work on the borders between young people, youth trainers, youth policy and researchers, for example running a 3 day workshop at CoE Symposium ‘Youth Actor of Social Change’, and my continued work on youth training programmes
  • intercultural skills: I am experienced at working in a European dimension such as being a rapporteur at the CoE Budapest ‘youth against violence seminar’ and working with refugees.

Organisational / managerial skills

  • whilst working for a Brussels based refugee NGO ‘Convivial’ I organized a ‘Civil Dialogue’ between refugees and civil servants at the European Commission 20th June 2002
  • during my PhD I organised a seminar series on research methods

We cannot know what you would put there. Did you work in a successful team before? Did you train and/or manage people? This is the field to put your skills that are not your hard skills like a diploma or knowledge in something that can be proven (i.e. Java) but rather your experience with people.

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  • I will add that soft skills are often as important or more important than hard skills once you get past the junior level. These are critical areas to get right in your CV. – HLGEM Jul 26 '16 at 14:45
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    I agree that it's good to get them right. For me, most important is that as in the examples, it's things the applicant did. Not just a list of buzzwords. "I'm a good team player" is totally meaningless, because who'd ever openly admit he's not? "From date X to date Y, I successfully lead a team doing Z" is in a completely different league. – nvoigt Jul 26 '16 at 15:19

I would venture to guess the reason why you don't know how to fill in this part of the CV is that you don't actually have these skills yet at any high level. Certainly the wording of the question tends to support this in terms of communication skills. It is too informal and patronizing to women and old people (BTW, I am both).

At a junior level, this is the type of thing I would expect to see:

Communication skills

  • A discussion of how well you work with others and how you participate in meetings
  • If you have made a suggestion that you had to sell to your team to get implemented, it would go here
  • Examples of your ability to produce written documents, particularly any larger than an email
  • If you know a language other than your native language, an estimate of your skill level such as "Speaks and writes English proficiently"

Organization skills

  • Something pertaining to your ability to meet deadlines
  • If you have had overall charge of any part of a project, how you assigned work to others (if applicable) or how you prioritized the work you had to do based on the critical path.
  • You could also talk about how you structured the source control to make it easier to maintain, or even how you designed code for maintainability.

Finally if you are very recently out of school, you could put some examples from your schooling. You could also put some examples from charitable work or outside organizations if you have any. I understand that is more commonly put in a CV in Europe. But the strong preference would be to put work-related examples first.

From the perspective of what the employer is looking for he/she wants to know if you can work well within your team, if you can work well with users/clients, if he/she can assign you to write a document such as a technical design, if you can organize your work on your own or if you need to be given the work piece by piece.

If you are at the level where you want to move from junior to intermediate or intermediate to senior, he wants evidence that you are starting to understand the job as someone of the higher level. So I would expect much more of this for a senior job where much more of your work involves soft skills than in a junior job.

As with anything though, what exactly is expected depends on the job. My job requires extensive contact not only with our client, but with the customers of our client. A junior person would not be allowed to directly contact either. So the expectation of the skill level could be different even at the same employer for different jobs.

A government contract might require the ability to produce written documentation while it might not be as important in a start-up. The larger, more bureaucratic organization might require less ability to self-manage the flow of your work than a start-up where everyone wears multiple hats.

Understand that technical skills are necessary, but these soft skills become more important the more experienced you are. I might not expect a junior level person to have much of this, but I would never consider hiring a senior who did not. You need to go out of your way to learn these skills even if it makes you uncomfortable to do so.

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  • But wouldn't that fall under the Work Experience / Skills important for the job at hand? Because I can prove it, and have actual evidence of it. But other than that, it's highly subjective. "Meeting Deadlines" is a good example. An unreasonable deadline is pretty much impossible to meet, yet what I may find unreasonable may not be for others, hence it's subjective and ... if you use a noBS-filter, it essentially means "Depending on how much time you give me I'll do the job" – Oak Jul 26 '16 at 19:04

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