Writing Soft Skills into Your Resume

By Erin Coursey, iHire, LLC
           
Writing Soft Skills into Your Resume

Soft skills are the general competencies employers are looking for, such as dependability and attention to detail. They are usually more subjective and harder to quantify than hard skills like public relations, quality assurance/control, product development, or data analysis. However, they are still important to include in your resume to prove that you will fit in well and work hard in your new role.

But how do you know which soft skills employers want to see? And how do you make something subjective and unquantifiable into a persuasive argument that will get you hired?

Don’t worry: it’s not as difficult as it sounds.

Step 1: Pick Your Skills

Every moment of the day, you are using some skill or another. But employers probably aren’t interested in your grocery-shopping proficiency or deep understanding of late night TV programming. You’re going to need to filter out some key talents to use in your job search.

If you already know the position you’re applying for… go through the job ad and highlight all the hard skills in one color, and the soft ones in another color. Don’t overlook skills disguised as personality traits (like self-motivated and persistent)! Then, think about a time you used each of these skills. Think about volunteer work you’ve done, career accomplishments, etc. Write down everything you remember about each example.

If you want to search for jobs based on your skills… think about your recent experiences, positions, etc. What major accomplishments have you had? What did you do that made you succeed? Don’t worry about separating hard and soft skills at first; just brainstorm a list to start and then go back and categorize.

Now it’s time for some investigation. First, search for top competencies bosses are looking for, both for the overall job market and your specific industry (scroll to the end of this article for an example list). Note any that describe you and add them to your set. Second, research each employer before you apply figure out what they value. Do you have any other abilities that might matter to a particular company? If so, make sure you have them in your resume.

If your list gets too long or difficult to manage, focus on talents that have helped you go above and beyond. Such accomplishments are what convince hiring managers to schedule interviews to learn more.

Step 2: Write the Resume

While hard skills are good for listing in your core competencies section so that employers can immediately see that you meet the necessary measurable qualifications, soft skills are a bit trickier. Because they are more subjective, they aren’t as persuasive without context to prove that you have these talents.

Soft skills work best in two parts of your resume: the summary and your achievements. In the summary, you want to include as many of the skills from the job ad as possible as well as those you will use frequently in the rest of the document.

The professional experience section is your chance to prove how good you are at using the skills necessary for the open position. The majority of applicants are going to have these talents written somewhere in their resumes. If the hiring process involves an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), every candidate who passes the initial screening probably has some level of ability in each area. The key is to show that you are better at using these skills than the competition.

Let me say that again— it isn’t just about having the skill; it’s about how well you use it.

That’s why you need to talk about your past experiences and accomplishments in which you used each soft skill and achieved a specific goal. Employers use these successes to quantify the seemingly un-quantifiable world of soft skills.

List of Top Soft Skills

  • Interpersonal
    • Communication
    • Collaboration/teamwork
    • Empathetic

Resume Example: Built trusting relationships with patients as well as family members, educating them on treatment plans, actively listening to concerns, and ensuring fellow medical personnel were up to date on individual care needs.  

  • Leadership
    • Conflict management
    • Mentoring
    • Ability to build rapport

Resume Example: Following company merger, led teambuilding activities, clearly communicated performance objectives, and achieved cohesion among newly formed departments.  

  • Decision making
    • Adaptability/flexibility
    • Problem solving
    • Accepting and integrating feedback

Resume Example: Ran customer survey to gain valuable insights into product and service preferences, identify key areas of improvement, and implement changes to increase sales and satisfaction.

  • Work habits
    • Multitasking
    • Perform well with deadline/under pressure
    • High energy/enthusiastic/(self) motivated

Resume Example: Readily took on additional responsibilities following major reduction in force, continuing to meet deadlines for core duties while learning new skills on own initiative.

  • Organization
    • Planning/scheduling
    • Prioritization
    • Time management

Resume Example: Expertly coordinated community outreach event, setting activity schedules, negotiating vendor contracts, and launching marketing campaign within tight deadline.

 

Sources:

Jeff Gillis— Skills to Put on a Resume

James Hu— How to Include Hard and Soft Skills in Your Resume

Alison Doyle— List of Soft Skills

           

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