Want to Stand Out From the Crowd? Then Stop Using the 'Fast Food Skills'. | Johnathan Maltby
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Want to Stand Out From the Crowd? Then Stop Using the ‘Fast Food Skills’.

Stand out from the crowd

Want to Stand Out From the Crowd? Then Stop Using the ‘Fast Food Skills’.


One of the classic mistakes that people make when building their personal brand is listing generic skills in their CVs and LinkedIn profiles. The skills I am referring to here are the same ones that so many people list no matter what industry they’re in.

Many of you may recognise these generic skills and even have a few of these listed somewhere in your own CV or LinkedIn profile. They are:

  • Results-focused
  • A ‘can-do’ attitude
  • Energetic team player
  • Work autonomously
  • Think outside the box or square
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Ability to prioritise
  • Problem solver
  • Multi-tasking
  • Dynamic
  • Microsoft Office


Do you notice anything about these skills? They are pretty much the same skills you need to have in order to work in a fast food restaurant. That is why I call these skills the ‘Fast Food Skills’. Not that there is anything wrong with working in a fast food restaurant mind you, feeding people is a vital job. It is expected that you have these skills for most jobs nowadays anyway as they are a given in today’s employment landscape.

So how should you go about listing your skills? Well, the key is to make sure they are industry specific skills. You see hiring managers, HR and recruiters are looking to match relevant industry keywords associated with the role to the ones used in your CV and/or LinkedIn Profile. In fact they are trying to tick as many boxes as they can when matching you to their role and this goes for interviews too. In order to help them tick those boxes, you need to align yourself with the job or industry.

The easiest way to align yourself is to use the proper language and terminology that someone in that role would typically use. For example if you want to get a job as a Senior Software Developer, then you must use the language and terms that a senior software developer would use. One of the best ways to determine the type of language and skills you should be listing is to visit the job boards or job section in LinkedIn profile – it does not really matter which one and in which country. Choose about 10 jobs that you would typically apply for and have a look at the key selection criteria and the required skills they have listed in the job advert. If you have any of those skills, then list them in your CV and LinkedIn profile. In most cases those adverts are already using the correct language and terminology that you need to be using.

Another strategy to use is to head to Google and so if we use the Software Developer example again, you could do a search for something like this “What are the skills a senior software developer needs to have?”. If you have those skills then list them in your CV and LinkedIn profile.

Now that you have listed all the relevant industry related skills, you may want to add in a few other ‘unique’ skills that you have and this does require a bit of thinking. The easiest way to do this is to think about a typical day or week in your role ands make a list of the activities you would typically do. Now pick the activities that you really do well from that list and try to determine what the underlying skill is that you posses which allows you to do that activity really well. Adding a few of these skills will help round out the skills section of your CV and is actually quite important when it comes to branding yourself as it helps you to stand out and differentiate yourself from others.

Always keep in mind that your skills are a vital part of your personal brand, so when you start to package yourself, don’t put the same skills into the box that everyone else does.