Tell us you have skills, without telling us you have skills

by Jul 16, 2021

Whether you’re down with the ‘tell us without telling us’ TikTok trend or not, it’s – rather strangely – a pretty great piece of advice when it comes to landing a job.

Regardless if it’s through your CV or in an interview, employers are looking to see whether you have the skills they’re after. And hey, you can’t just be like, “Yeah for sure, I have literally all the software engineering skills – hire me!” (Or, well, you could but that’s hardly going to be effective). So what do you want to do instead? You want to tell them you have the skills, without just telling them you have the skills.

Here’s how you do just that.


In your written application

Cover letters

A cover letter is your chance to expound on what you can bring to the position, and highlight some of the areas you truly excel in. So you’ve really got to make it work for you.

Have a look at the role’s position description and make a note of the key skills they’re looking for. Choose at least three that you definitely have and then, rather than just listing them in your cover letter, write about how you’ve successfully utilised these skills in the past.

Say they’re looking for someone who can run a great social media campaign. Don’t just write that you’ve had experience managing successful campaigns in a previous role. Tell them about the campaigns you’ve run, mention the targets you hit, the conversions you made, and really show them you’ve got the skill they’re looking for.


Likewise in your resume, your experience section is the perfect spot to really dig into your achievements. Use the dot points under your past roles to not only mention the responsibilities you had and the skills you utilised in those positions, but refer to the successes you had when utilising those skills. Stats and numbers are great if you’ve got them, and can really highlight your competencies.

Essentially, you can’t just say you can do the thing, you’ve got to bring receipts.


In an interview

Hoo boy, it’s go time! You’re written job application was clearly *chef’s kiss* remarkable, and the recruiter wants to ~interview~ you.

It’s time to once again, that’s right: tell them you can do the job, without telling them you can do the job (… I mean, that’s what this whole blog post is about so that shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point).

And how can you do that? Behold – the STAR technique!

The STAR technique is a way of structuring your answers to ensure you really highlight the skills you’re trying to sell in an interview. It’s essentially an in-depth way to do the thing, AKA tell them without telling them. Like I’ve broken down in a previous post, the STAR technique has 4 steps:

  1. Situation: Think of a situation that fits what the employer is asking.
  2. Task: What was your role or task in that situation?
  3. Action: What action did you take in the situation?
  4. Result: What ended up happening?

This technique basically prompts you to go beyond simply telling an employer you have the skill they’re asking about, and instead show them through a past experience that you have the skill they’re asking about.

For example, if they’re asking how you work in a team you wouldn’t just answer: “I’m a great team player, I love working with other people”, because all that’s really telling them at the end of the day is that you can say the words “I’m a great team player, I love working with other people”. Instead, back up your claim.

So instead, maybe you’d say something like:

“In many of my previous roles, I’ve worked very successfully in a team. For example, at my last job the team I was on was tasked with creating a website for a new business but we had very strict time constraints that really put a lot of pressure on us to work together cohesively.”

(This is the situation bit).

“My role in that team was to write the website copy, but because of the added time pressure it was really important these written elements were finalised alongside the site’s design so everything worked well from a UX perspective.”

(This is the task bit).

“To help ensure the project was successful, I spoke with our designer and we organised bi-weekly meetings where we’d sit down together and workshop the copy and design elements cohesively and to the project’s schedule. We then took this to the rest of the team, and liaised with them to stage the site.”

(This is the action bit).

“As a result of our collaboration, the site was on schedule and proved to be a huge success – the traffic it garnered was one of the key factors in this new brand’s profits upon launch.”

(This is the result bit).

See? By using this technique you’re actively demonstrating to an employer that you’ve got the goods and can deliver.

So bestie, it’s time to go forth with this TikTok-inspired knowledge, and land that job.


Featured image courtesy of Pexels

By Mia Casey

By Mia Casey

Communications Officer

Mia is a Sydney-based communications professional and content creator for UTS Careers, and ran the UTS Careers Blog for five years from its conception in 2016.
Her freelance work focuses on branding development and helping companies create a cohesive identity narrative tailored for each of their platforms.
She enjoys piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.