Sorry, right now the custom fields are not searchable “out of the box”. This is a planned enhancement.
If you need the skills and talents to be searchable you can rename the “notes” field as you suggested or you could add them as categories under a sub category named “Skills” and “Talents”. This would allow the user to filter by either skill or talent use the category drop down on the premium templates.
As far as the having the notes field open by default, sorry no, that can not be done unless you create a custom template file override removing that functionality.
I hope that helps!