How to write about skills in your job applications.

person using macbook pro on table

Job seeking can be challenging whether you’re trying to create an excellent CV, craft a cover letter, or prepare for an interview. That’s why I have created an online resource with tips to help. The link below will show the soft and hard skills that you can include in your applications.


Skills describe what we are able to do and are usually defined in two categories: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills

Hard skills are also known as professional or technical skills. These skills are specific abilities that we have learned and developed through education or in the workplace.

 Examples of hard skills:

Languages, driving, building techniques, repair techniques, D.I.Y., sewing / dressmaking, operating machinery e.g. a hoist / a forklift, cooking, playing an instrument, gardening and sport.

Computer skills i.e. typing, Graphic Design, Data Management (collecting / organising and interpreting), Analytics, Word Processing and Technical Writing / Social Media skills, programming languages and coding.

 Soft skills

Soft skills are also known as transferable, non-technical or personal skills. These are skills that have come more naturally and deal with how we relate to the people and the environment around us. They transfer readily from one job to another.

 Soft skills usually fall into three categories:

  • Interactions with people
  • Professionalism and/or Work Ethic
  • Critical Thinking or Problem Solving

Interactions with People:





Demonstrating Empathy








Conflict Management



Professionalism and Work Ethic:

Time Management

Willingness to learn

Willingness to take on new challenges

Goal setting






Attention to detail

Critical Thinking or Problem Solving:

Quick thinking

Problem solving

Decision making





Thinking outside the box

Ability to cope under pressure


When writing a CV or cover letter it is always a good idea to highlight the skills mentioned in the job specification and match these as much as possible to show that you are the right fit for the role. You can create a separate skills section in your CV and include some of these keywords in your profile too. Even if you have not been in the same role that you are applying for, you can still show that you have the capabilities to carry out the tasks through your soft and hard skills. Best of luck!

Breda Hegarty is a career counsellor with the EPIC Programme run by Business in the Community Ireland. EPIC is a free programme supporting people from migrant backgrounds to gain employment. If you are interested in participating in one of the free programmes contact Livia Bartolomé on 086 8391313

You can contact Breda Hegarty on with any comments or questions that you may have.

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Preparing for Competency Based Interview Questions

two woman chatting
Photo by mentatdgt on

During the interview you may be asked competency based questions. These questions are designed to help the interviewer understand your personal qualities and how you deal with different situations and behave in a work environment. Look at job advertisements to see which competencies have been highlighted for your role. Then, prepare possible questions based on these competencies and think about specific examples from your work. If you don’t have professional experience, use examples from volunteering or education and training courses.

Sample competency questions include:

“Tell me about a time when you kept calm under pressure”

“Give an example of a time you had a deadline but could not reach it. What happened?”

“Tell me about a time when you worked in a team”

“How do you deal with conflict situations?”

 Common competencies:

 The STAR method

When answering competency based questions, the STAR method is a really useful technique to us.


Using a structured technique to describe an example clearly for the interviewer of when you demonstrated different competencies will ensure that your answers are easy and quick to understand. ‘Storytelling’ in this way will also keep your interviewers engaged and interested. It will ensure your answers are clear and concise, while also descriptive.

The STAR method will also not only give proof of your abilities and competencies, but will show the interviewers your strengths and suitability for the job, based on your answer and actions that you took – even if you do not specifically refer to your own strengths.

 Using the STAR Method

 Think of one specific example from your past experiences to answer each question.

S Situation

This sets the scene. Describe a situation that relates to the interviewer´s question. When did it happen and where?

T – Task

Discuss what your role/responsibilities were or what the task was.

 A – Action

Outline what you did and the action you took.  Use the word ‘I’, not ‘we’ to show accountability for your actions. Give a real example of one incident in the past rather than multiple. Give step by step details of what you did and how you did it.

This section will be the longest part of your answer.

 R – Result

Tell the interviewer about the positive result of your actions. Talk about the benefits of what you did. Did you learn from it? / Implement positive changes as a result?

Tip: Focussing on one specific example can be challenging. Keep it simple and check if you are using adverbs of frequency like “always”, “every day” or “often” or using plurals. If you are, try to instead focus on one specific moment, a ‘snapshot’ of the past – using the past tense where possible instead.

 Examples using the STAR technique:

Example 1:

I was the Promotions Officer for the International Volunteering Society in Dublin City University, during my studies.
For the international volunteering trips, the society needed to recruit 30 volunteers each year. To promote this and recruit volunteers, we decided to host a multi-cultural day. I was responsible for finding guest speakers and activity leaders for the multi-cultural day event.
I started with members of our own society. I also approached other societies such as language, dance and sports societies, where I knew there were many people involved from diverse cultural backgrounds. I also asked to speak at different society meetings to encourage people to get involved and created a plan of events and a timetable for the day.
I managed to get speakers and activity leaders representing 10 different countries and during the event, we held 10 workshops including a Zumba dance session, an African drumming workshop and cookery demonstrations. Over 1,000 students attended the event, and 67 also signed up as potentials for the international volunteering programme.


Example 2

I worked as a Volunteer Sales Assistant in the Enable Ireland Charity Shop, where I was responsible for organising stock, operating the till and dealing with customers.
I started off in the backroom removing clothes from bags and separating the items that could be sold, to items that needed to be recycled. After a few weeks, I became responsible for training new volunteers in the layout and organisation of the stockroom. I also came up with a new layout for the shop, which involved putting similar clothing and styles together, making it easier for customers to locate items and it also made the store look more like a high street shop. I created very visual and themed window displays and I started working on the till, calculating the takings at the end of the day, bringing them to the bank and training in new volunteers in this area.
I gained a lot of skills like organisational and time management skills and I became more efficient. I also learned that I am creative and enjoy coming up with new ideas to solve problems and improve sales and customer experience.

Crucial Personal Qualities Sought by Employers.


group of people sitting indoors
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Demonstrating your work experience and education on a CV are essential to make you stand out, however it can also be beneficial to highlight your personality. These traits will give the employer an insight into how you would perform in a team and allow them to visualise you in the role and the workplace. Ideally the personal qualities should match those outlined in the job specification.

You can choose some personal qualities from the list below:


  • Active
  • Ambitious
  • Analytical
  • Approachable
  • Accurate
  • Adaptable


  • Calm
  • Capable
  • Caring
  • Client focused
  • Committed
  • Compassionate
  • Competent
  • Competitive
  • Confident
  • Conscientious
  • Considerate
  • Consistent
  • Cooperative
  • Creative
  • Customer Focused


  • Decisive
  • Dedicated
  • Dependable
  • Detail Oriented
  • Determined
  • Diligent
  • Diplomatic
  • Discreet
  • Dynamic


  • Effective
  • Efficient
  • Empathetic
  • Encouraging
  • Energetic
  • Enthusiastic


  • Flexible
  • Focused
  • Friendly


  • Good Sense Of Humour


  • Helpful
  • High Achiever
  • Honest


  • Imaginative
  • Innovative


  • Level-Headed
  • Logical
  • Loyal


  • Methodical
  • Meticulous
  • Motivated


  • Non-Judgemental


  • Observant
  • Open-Minded
  • Optimistic
  • Organised
  • Outgoing


  • Passionate
  • Patient
  • Persevering
  • Persistent
  • Persuasive
  • Polite
  • Positive
  • Practical
  • Precise
  • Proactive
  • Productive
  • Punctual


  • Rational
  • Reliable
  • Respectful
  • Responsible
  • Results Oriented


  • Supportive
  • Sympathetic


  • Tactful
  • Thorough
  • Thoughtful
  • Tolerant
  • Trustworthy
  • Truthful


  • Versatile

Preparing for an Interview

man being interviewed by a woman
Photo by Gustavo Fring on
Know the role;
Read the advertisement many times to be familiar with what the employer is looking for. Be familiar with the vocabulary of the position. Reading through the advertisement will also give you an idea of the questions you might be asked and the areas of your C.V. that you should highlight.
Know the company;
Know three things about the company. Provide facts, figures or statistics. Saying things like, your company is one of the best and a great place to work lets the employer know that you have not done your research and you are waffling. Check through their social media channels for their latest news and achievements, find out about their Corporate Social Responsibility and know their mission, vision and values. Researching the company and having key information will show this employer your interest and eagerness for the role.
Know your C.V.
Know every detail of your C.V. Be prepared to talk the employer through your C.V. Employers may have not had a long time to look at our C.V. It is up to you to know every section of your experience and relay it to the employer in a passionate way.
Identify what you do best
Identify 3 achievements that you are really proud of i.e. improvements you made, targets or deadlines achieved etc. and make sure to work these examples into the interview.
Prepare for the worst
Think about what you least would like to get asked and prepare for that. That is the best way to settle nerves before an interview as you know that even if they ask you a sticky question you will be ready. Be ready to explain gap years and change of career. If there is an area of the role that you are not familiar with be ready to show how you dealt with unknown areas in previous roles and triumphed.
Prepare your answers
Interview questions are nearly always similar, research the most popular interview questions and prepare your answers for these.
Prepare your examples
Always give specific examples in the interview this will show the employer what you will be able to do in their company. Pick different examples  showing your competencies i.e. communication, organisational, planning, prioritisation, time management, teamwork, conflict management, decision making, problem solving and coping under pressure. Make sure your example is detailed e.g . when I worked as a hairdresser with Peter Marks I was responsible for…………. and make sure it has a  good start middle and an end. When giving an example it is really important to use the star technique. Mention the situation, task, action and result. Spend most of the answer on the action as this will hold the most important information for the employer.
Know what you are going to wear
Get your clothes ready before the interview, know what you are going to wear and hang them up, make sure that they are clean and ironed and that shoes are polished.
Plan your route
Find out where the interview is going to be. It is so important to be on time for the interview. Ideally you should be there 15 mins in advance, anything earlier than that is a bit too early and can be awkward for the employer anything later than that is late!. Plan the route know which bus or train to take or how long it will take to walk there. It is really good to do a dummy run of the journey in advance, to know exactly how long it will take.
Know what you are going to ask at the end of the interview
Have two questions prepared that again show you have done your research and you are really interested in the role. This is your last opportunity to make a really good impression and make sure that you use it wisely.
Good luck and keep reminding yourself that they called you for interview so they believe you can do the job.
Breda Hegarty is a Career Counsellor with Business in the Community Ireland.If you have any questions or would like more information on our free courses for jobseekers contact me on or DM me. 

15 Tips for Dealing with Change and Transition

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change”


Butterfly-transition 2

Change and transition are an inevitable part of life; at some point in our lives we will all encounter insignificant and major transitions. Transitions can cover a multitude of events both expected and unforeseen. It is therefore of utmost importance to know how we can navigate these changes, learn from them and how to thrive because of them.

My curiosity regarding job transition was triggered by an experience that I had when changing roles. This planned-for change had an unexpected and profound effect on me that rippled into all aspects of my life. It brought about feelings of being up-rooted and un-anchored. Exploring ‘Transition Theory’ at a greater level enabled me to understand my own transition and that of my clients. In this article I will draw from transition theory, my own and my client’s experiences.


  1. Understand the transition

The first step in dealing with a transition is to gain an understanding of it. Was it an anticipated transition or unanticipated transition? Is it one that you chose or one that you had no control over. Understanding the type of transition that you are experiencing can help identify the root of some of the feelings that you are experiencing.


  1. Understand what has changed

It can also be helpful to identify what has actually changed, this can help with understanding what you are feeling and supporting yourself in that. After twelve years of teaching Esther decided to take a career break as she was burnt out. What deeply affected her in the months after this change was that she felt she no longer had a purpose or value. Her identity was so intrinsic to her role as a teacher that when this unravelled she too became undone. “Who am I now that I am not myself any-more?” We looked at the role she took in her family which was that of the performer and entertainer, which teaching also gave her an outlet for. Her stage and platform had now been removed making the transition more difficult for her than it may have been for others. She is currently volunteering as a tour guide and taking acting classes to regain the feeling that teaching gave her and allows her to pursue new and varied opportunities. It is important to figure out with gives you meaning and how to bring this back and also pursue new opportunities


  1. Check your expectation

Disappointment unpacks its bags when our expectations are not met; it is important to look at expectations and see how realistic they are. Nero is from Italy and has been looking for a job for three weeks. He is frustrated as he has not secured employment yet. This scenario highlights a somewhat unrealistic expectation as Nero would not just like any job but a “good job in a big company”. Nero does not realise the average amount of time it takes to find this type of work and the amount of competition, and therefore his unrealistic expectation is creating further frustration. We can end up in a cycle of beating ourselves up because of standards that we cannot achieve. Time, persistence and resilience are key in this situation.


  1. Transitions are different for everyone.

People can differ greatly in how they deal with transition. When I changed jobs I became really jealous of others that had done the same and appeared to be thriving. This was an unhelpful thought pattern. Transitions can be different for everyone and it was important to admit that this was difficult for me. The determiner of how significant a transition might be relates to how much the transition impacts or alters our roles, relationships, routines and assumptions (Schlossberg, 2008). It could be good to take time to break down the transition and see how it has altered your role, relationships, routine and assumptions about yourself.


  1. Gain advice

Gain advice from people who have been in similar situations before and also advice on how to deal with the situation that you are in. For me speaking to people who had been through similar situations was very helpful.  I mentioned to one colleague that I was having difficulty sleeping, she mentioned how this had happened to her too in the past, I asked what happened, and she responded with the sentence that “I learned that I could cope with a few hours of sleep”. Hearing that someone else had been through a similar situation and realising that I could cope too ironically helped me to sleep better.


  1. You are more than this transition

Transitions can be all consuming, we can identify with what we have changed, be it a new role or unemployment. It is important to remember that you are more than this one thing. You are a brother/ sister, parent/child, friend; there are many more parts to you than this one thing. Allow yourself to see your value in all aspects of your life and that you are still the same person that you have always been.


  1. Make a plan and take back control

The value of routine and structure cannot be underestimated as it provides comfort and stability. When this is removed or changed it can feel like the rug has been pulled from under us. In this situation making a plan can be helpful: what are the next small steps that can be taken, what is one thing that could make this situation better; how can a new routine be established; and where can new relationships be built. Bola recently lost a job that she greatly enjoyed; this led to a period of confusion and sadness.  In our session we worked out a plan regarding her job search. She decided that she would like to use this time to return to college to take up computers. We looked at possible courses that she could take and paths that could be followed. On leaving the session her mood was visibly different as she now was armed with a plan and had taken back some control over the situation. In life there are many pathways and avenues, shifting the focus to a small change or a little step that can be taken can give back a greater sense of control. This allows for a sense of progress and a small certainty that can be held onto.


  1. Embrace the chaos

Transition can involve a sort of halfway house between where we have been and where we are going, between who we were and who we are going to be. Kayla described her transition as “I feel like I’m waiting in the lobby of the airport not exactly knowing the destination of my flight”. Transition involves a relinquishing of the past or future expectation, which can involve shock and a period of grieving. Debora came to me in a state of shock after leaving her previous role to return to college. “I keep thinking of the terrible mistake I made, I just want my old job back. I am ashamed to admit that I fantasise about something happening to my replacement. I can’t stop shaking, I can’t sleep and I have lost my appetite”. Debora is grieving for the role that she has given up. She is experiencing the stages of bereavement which can include denial, anger, resentment, bargaining, depression and eventually acceptance.  If these stages are ignored or bypassed they can catch up with us at a later period.


  1. Hang on in there

Transition can be seen as leaving a familiar shore and making one’s way in stormy water. While journeying through a transition many years ago, I received some very sound advice from a priest – “when in the midst of a storm it is better to hold tight and stay on the boat. Once the storm has lifted the way forward will become clearer”. The counsel of ‘hang on in there’ and ‘be gentle with yourself’ is one that I now impart to clients. While the storm is passing I aim to support clients in softening their fixated gaze on the departed shore and gently adjusting their lens so new horizons can come in to focus. To alter their perception of the event by turning challenges into opportunities, difficulties into time for learning and delays into time to take stock.


  1. Transitions take time

Knowing that adjustments take time and can be accompanied with periods of unknowing and vulnerability and are more acute at the start, can in itself bring comfort. We can strengthen ourselves by looking back at the initial reasons for the transition, if it was a self-elected one. For Petra we discussed the reason for her move to Ireland, which was to improve her English. Even though she is now frustrated as she is looking for a new role, it is important to highlight that her English is practically fluent. Transition works in stages and steps and though it might feel like we are at the bottom of the mountain, we can be closer to the summit than we think. It is important in transition to take time to see how far we have already come, to know what we are experiencing is normal and that going through this now will help in facing future challenges.


  1. Focus on what you can do rather than on what you can’t

In the midst of a transition especially to a new role we can become fixated on what we can’t do, feeling a form of imposter syndrome. Try to pick tasks that you can do well and focus on them and congratulate yourself for doing them well. Focus on the small wins and what you can achieve.


  1. Reshape how you view the transition

Relabeling, re-prioritising, reshaping and refocusing are all positive ways to deal with a transition. (Schlossberg, 2008). A period of wilderness can be relabelled to a period of learning and opportunity for growth. The areas causing the most difficulty can be re-prioritised to the area of least importance. This time can now be used to reshape and refocus and provide an opportunity to create a new plan, dream or vision


  1. Recognise familiar thinking patterns

Knowing that we have overcome difficulties in the past can provide a reassuring blanket. While in the midst of transition it can be hard to see anything else. Transitions can be overwhelming, bringing a temporary blindness to our ability to cope and our past ability to succeed. When Denise started her work placement she was terrified and afraid. “I just feel like I know nothing and that I’m letting everyone down”. On probing these feelings further to find out if she had ever felt like this before, it became clear that this was a very common pattern in her thinking. There were intense moments when she was learning to drive and starting her studies, where she felt like a complete failure and that she would never succeed. In both cases she ably accomplished the tasks. Recognising this pattern of negative / faulty thinking was somewhat of a breakthrough. By becoming aware of our negative thinking and self-talk patterns we can take steps towards changing it. It may not always be possible to change the situation but changing how we view it can be monumental.


  1. Identify supports

Supports can also help us to feel valued, understood and that we are not alone. Studies carried out on concentration camp inmates showed that it was important to affiliate with a group, to obtain advice, protection, information and a sense of self-worth. The desire to help others and give to others gave people a reason for living (Schlossberg, 1981).  Exploring the supports you already have to hand and how to leverage them can prove worthwhile. Attending counselling, joining hobby groups or volunteering can help build a new circle of supports. If a situation cannot be changed, finding ways to deal with it i.e. through meditation or visualisation can prove essential to maintaining mental health. Reading, taking baths, exercising, singing, listening to music and dancing are other ways to deal with the stresses of transition. Chupe decided to deal with her negative feelings by writing up a list of 30 things that she likes to do and using a dice to pick a different one each day.


  1. You won’t always feel like this.

Change changes. It may feel like you are stuck and will always feel like this but as this transition has happened so too will another. These feelings will shift and change over time. Having experienced this transition will create a resilience within you that you can draw on the future, it can be good to visualise feeling differently and trust that you are doing your best.


Transitions take time, patience and understanding, a period of holding tight and hanging on in there until we can take that leap into embracing our new future. Best of luck!


‘Come to the edge’

‘It’s too high’

‘Come to the edge’

‘We might fall’

‘Come to the edge’

And they came

And he pushed

And they flew


  • Come to the Edge – Christopher Logue




Anderson, Mary, PhD, Jane, PhD Goodman, and Nancy K., EdD Schlossberg. 2011  ‘Counseling Adults in Transition’ Fourth Edition, edited by Mary, PhD Anderson, et al, Springer Publishing Company,. ProQuest Ebook Central.


Schlossberg Nancy K., 1981,A Model for Analyzing Human Adaptation to Transition’, The Counseling Psychologist Sage publications, Washington DC. America.


Schlossberg Nancy K., 2008. ‘Overwhelmed – Coping with LIFE’S UPS and DOWNS’.M. Evans & Company, Maryland, USA.


Schlossberg Nancy K., 2009 ‘Retire Smart, Retire Happy – Finding Your True Path in Life’. APA Life tools, American Psychological Association.


Schlossberg Nancy K., 2011, ‘The Challenge of Change: The transition model and its application’. Journal of Employment Counselling’, Volume 48. The American Counselling Association.







Butterfly-transition 2

Job News



We are very pleased to bring you some of the hottest jobs available in Dublin at the moment.

Reward Analyst – Primark

Relationship Manager – South African Market – LinkedIn

Spanish Speaking HR specialist – Bookassisst

Content Review agent – French – Cognizant

Market Operations community specialist – Spanish – Facebook

Vacancies – PitneyBowes

IT vacancies – Openjaw

Vacancies with

Graduate Intern programme – Centre for Effective Services


Free Springboard courses at the NCI

Interesting article

Interesting article from CPL on why recruiters don’t respond

Dublin Job News


Here are the latest happenings job-wise in Dublin, from open days to apprenticeships and from legal roles to those in pharmaceuticals. Take a look, it could be the change that you are looking for.

NCI Vacancies

Executive Connections Vacancies

Inside sales with Polish – Microsoft

Cash Specialist – Docusign

Corporate Real Estate and Property Manager – Diageo

Inside Sales – Arabic and English – Microsoft

Recruitment Administrator – PWC

Customer Service Representative – Hilti

Barnardos Vacancies

Shire Vacancies

Legal roles – Open Day – Lex Consultancy

Dublin Bus Apprenticeship recruitment

Dublin News – Jobs, clubs and useful information

News are expanding in Dublin, below is a link to their current openings

Arvato are having an open day on the 18th of April for roles in “Transaction Specialist” and “Content Review”,

You can ‘branch out’ and connect with people if you would to improve your English and build your confidence

ILAC Dublin City Library

  • English/Multilingual Conversation Exchange – open to speakers of all languages including English speakers: Fridays, 3.30 – 4.45pm

ToastMasters is an international network of clubs, set up to help individuals improve their leadership and public speaking skills.  Most clubs meet fortnightly. Follow the link below to find out more

The Garda Reserve are recruiting for volunteers

If you would like to consider a career with the Irish Police Force, the Garda Siochana are currently recruiting for ‘Garda Reserve’ Officers.  This may be a very useful way of getting involved into Irish Society and a state institution.

Applications must be submitted via   Here you will have to complete your profile on the site before submitting an application for this or any other public job.

There are many free events, and events with small charges. Find things you are interested in and get to know people and improve your English doing something you love.

Check out:

Thank you to Tatiane Garcia for some of these useful tips, if you have any more hints or tips about, jobs, clubs or events in Ireland make sure to get in touch.

Vacancies in Dublin – 06/04/2017










Some of the latest jobs on offer in Dublin at the moment. Check them out.

Financial Administrator – Allen Recruitment

Training Operations Specialist – Coupa

ustomer Assistant – Lidl

Customer Service Associate – Spanish and French

HR and Payroll Administrator – MetLife

Food and Beverage Administrator – JLL

Recruiter – Dropbox

Consultant – Microsoft Office

Market Specialist Community Operations – Brazilian Portuguese

Reporting and Analytics Analyst – Facebook

Client Solutions Manager Italian – Facebook

Administrator – Archdiocese of Dublin

AsIAm – Information Officer

Finance Assistant – DePaul

Communications and Media Assistant – Public Jobs

Assistant Secretary – Public jobs

HR Administrator – Aer Lingus

HR Associate – Central Bank

Administrative Assistant – VSO

Business Development Representative – Arabic Speaking

Students Services – Students Budgeting Advisor


A new job in Dublin to put a Spring in your step.


Spring is here, that sense of new beginnings. If you are looking for a new beginning and a job in Dublin check out these live vacancies. If you would like any support with your job search do not hesitate to contact us on 01 8743840.

Recruiter – LogMeIn

Recruitment Coordinator – Amazon

Recruitment Specialist – Addeco

Transfer Agent – State Street

Temporary Clerical Officer – ESRI

Work placement in Marketing, finance or sales – Renault

Corporate Travel Administrator – Deloitte

Customer Service representative – Baxter

Upstream Risk Officer – Bank of Ireland

Graduate Fund Accountant – Michael Page

Reward Project Manager – Diageo

Personal Assistant – Arvato

Marketing Graduate – Aer Lingus

Executive Assistant – LinkedIn

Administration worker – Barnardos

Information Officer – Deaf Hear

Corporate Responsibility Advisor – Business in the Community