The SFIA generic responsibilities and skill descriptors are really helpful if you are looking to create a high impact CV.

So I advise anyone struggling to craft the right words to take a look at the (free to use) SFIA framework. You will find a “dictionary” of 97 professional IT skills, supporting the full range of IT disciplines (business, technical, operations and support). Its not aligned to platform, product, vendor or technology so no risk of too much jargon and too many acronyms.

Each skill is described at up to 7 levels of increasing seniority – giving a total of 344 skill level descriptions.

Its all built around generic responsibilities for IT professionals – covering 4 dimensions – autonomy, complexity, influence and business skills. These will also provide a rich source of inspiration for anyone struggling to craft an outcome focused CV.

Applying for a job which specifies the required SFIA skills?

in this case we know that the SFIA skill level descriptors will be used to help sift and shortlist CVs. You can help your self by matching your experiences to the SFIA level required. Don’t rely on the person reviewing this CV to do this. It is quite acceptable to use SFIA’s key phrases and terminology on your CV. This is a positive behaviour. It demonstrates self awareness and also that you are thinking carefully about your suitability for a vacancy.

Lets use an example: a vacancy for a Software Developer at SFIA level 4. The SFIA skills specified are:

  • Programming / software development @ SFIA Level 4
  • Methods and tools @ SFIA Level 4
  • Systems design @ SFIA Level 3
  • Data analysis @ SFIA Level 3

As well as these professional skills the recruiter will be looking for evidence that you meet the generic responsibilities of SFIA Level 4.

See the attached document for the fully expanded SFIA skills profile for this example – Software Developer SFIA Level 4

Actions to write a SFIA based CV

Work methodically through your experience and identify where you can match your experience to the SFIA descriptions.

e.g. for a SFIA Level 4 vacancy describe when have you

  • “Exercised substantial personal responsibility and autonomy”
  • “Planned your own work to meet given objectives”
  • “Influenced customers, suppliers and partners”
  • “Had responsibility for the work of others and for the allocation of resources” –  e.g. involved in planning the team’s work not just your own
  • “Participated in external activities related to you own specialism” – e.g. provided advice outside of the team with respect to your knowledge of applications. Taken part in process improvement working groups.
  • “Made decisions which influence the success of projects and team objectives” – e.g. made design decisions, re-planned work
  • “Investigated, defined and resolved complex issues”
  • “Selected applicable standards, methods, tools and applications”
  • “Communicated fluently, orally and in writing”
  • “Presented complex information to both technical and non-technical audiences”
  • “Planned, scheduled and monitor your work to meet time and quality targets”
  • “Maintained awareness of developing technologies and their application”
  • “Taken responsibility for driving your own professional development.”

Then turn to the specific SFIA Professional skills

To continue our example here are the SFIA descriptions for Programming / software development. NB: Remember all 97 skill definitions are available for free from the SFIA website (link at the bottom of this page)

SFIA L4 Programming / software development reads:

      • Designs, codes, tests, corrects and documents complex programs and scripts from agreed specifications, and subsequent iterations, using agreed standards and tools, to achieve a well engineered result. Takes part in reviews of own work and leads reviews of colleagues’ work.
Your CV should then provided examples inter-weaved with the SFIA level 4 wording.

e.g. As a designer/lead developer:

  • worked with business analysts to understand requirements and transform that into High level design and Low level design for <<insert name of application>>
  • Coded, tested, debugged and documented <<insert name of applications>>.
  • took responsible for the following stages of development: preparing work breakdown structure (WBS), conducting workshops for the team, resolving the queries for the complete delivery of the end to end project from requirement analysis through to the deployment into production
  • provided inputs to project and quality plans for the overall project working directly with the Project Manager.


Using SFIA to create a high impact CV

It can be quite daunting for technical people to write a CV.

  • The word-smithing does not come naturally to many technically oriented people.
  • You may be unsure how to describe technical activities in a simple easy to understand way.
  • Many people are reticent in talking about themselves and their achievements.
  • Its quite hard to know “what good looks like” and knowing what CV reviewers are looking for.

This is where SFIA can help. The wording of the SFIA descriptions comes from experienced practitioners in the field. The wording has been tested and improved by practical use. It has been used around the world in organisations large and small.


Review the generic responsibilities in SFIA – (on the spreadsheet or in the full reference manual). Take sometime to compare the responsibilities described against your own experience. You will soon get a sense of which one applies to you. It is likely that you will be able to home in on one of the levels which best matches your experience.Take note of the language used and consider how you can use similar language to describe your own experience. Now look through the 97 skills; which of these would you say are best representative of your experience and / or your strengths.

SFIA version 6 Assessment Tool

Here is a pragmatic method for a full SFIA version 6 Skills Self Assessment.

Key points to consider when you create your high impact CV

For SFIA Level 1

This is the lowest entry level into a professional career. You may need to draw on your non-work experience to demonstrate the required skills (e.g. from academic or non technical work experience). Focus on your employability – employers want to be confident that you will be able to operate in a work environment.

  • Show you can use basic information systems and technology applications, and processes.
  • Demonstrate an organised approach to work.
  • Show you are quick to learn new skills and apply newly acquired knowledge.
  • Show you understand the need to follow organisational procedures
  • Show that you have basic written and spoken communications

For SFIA Level 2

  • Show how you have resolved issues and problems
  • Describe your interactions with your team and department. How do you work with them and collaborate.Describe how you area team player.
  • How do you deal with customers; what feedback do you get
  • Describe the range of activities you perform to demonstrate versatility and willingness to learn and stretch you responsibilities
  • Show how you approach your work and that you analytical, organised and responsible and that you can operate effectively in the modern workplace.

For SFIA Level 3

  • Show how you have applied your technical or business domain knowledge.
  • Describe your interactions with internal and external customers. Internal customers include people inside the IT / Technology function but in different teams.
  • Don’t just list Technologies / applications you have worked with – try and describe what SFIA responsibilities you have displayed .
  • Show evidence of interacting within the team. What do you do and how does it make a difference?
  • Mention the individual decision making capabilities
  • Don’t just list tools – explain how you have used them and what SFIA responsibilities this has displayed.
  • Explain any new techniques you have used or introduced into the work environment
  • Demonstrate the breadth of work and complex / non-routine projects or operational areas you have worked in.

 For SFIA Level 4

The shift from level 3 to level 4 should be seen in demonstration of more personal leadership type activities.  This is not about managing people (although it could be). Leadership here is showing personal responsibility to get things done and enabling others to get tasks completed.

  • Describe situations where leadership activity has been performed
  • Work being performed should be more complex and should show multi application experience – demonstrate leadership qualities and being successful in a range of complex activities
  • Explain the project-based or and process-based skills and experience
  • If leading a team you should mention the Team Size

For SFIA Level 5

This Level reflects a more managerial role through usage of ‘Ensuring the tasks are accomplished or ‘Advising’ teams throughout project / service life cycle

  • Need to explain more on technical experience – not just number of years.
  • Use SFIA wording to describe depth and complexity of tasks and responsibilities.
  • Where applicable – show Team Size and scope of work
  • Be clear on demonstration of leadership capabilities
  • Stress work which has been personally initiated e.g. projects, process improvements, other initiatives
  • Resource management and decision making skills needs to be highlighted

For SFIA Level 6

  • At this level it must be clear that you can ‘Initiate or Influence’ strategies which in turn means influencing organization, business stakeholders, customers.
  • This Level reflects Senior Manager or Senior Technical specialist roles. You need to demonstrate dealing with Senior Management levels within the organisation and externally.
  • Your authority and responsibility must be for a significant area of work including technical, financial and quality aspects.SO describe how big your responsibilities are. Note this is may be size of team but is not restricted to only team size.
  • Even without a team you can establish organization objectives and delegates responsibilities.
  • Need to stress capabilities of defining and implementation of organizational level objectives
  • Customer and supplier relationship at senior management level capabilities needs to mentioned
  • Project and process management capabilities with evidence of setting policies to enable strategy execution. Just following policies is not a level 6 responsibility


Want to know more? – here’s the top 10 things that Technology and IT professionals need to know about SFIA.

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