What soft skills are and why they are important
Soft skills are the non-technical skills and personal attributes that you can apply to work. They generally fall into the following categories:
The way we relate to people, such as listening skills
Organizational abilities, such as meeting deadlines
The way we process information, such as critical thinking
Personality traits, such as curiosity
Soft skills are vital in the workplace because they foster connections with people and help us adapt to new situations, manage time, learn, and grow. Employers tend to seek applicants with a balanced mix of technical know-how, hard skills, and soft skills because they want well-rounded employees who can perform well in all aspects of work.
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How to use soft skills on a resume
First, you have to match your skills to the job. You likely have a range of traits and abilities, but it’s crucial to choose skills that match the requirements of each job.
- Start by evaluating your skill set.
- After writing down your list of skills, pick out your soft skills.
- Review the job description and highlight the required and optional soft skills as well as personality traits like “motivated,” “passionate” and “proactive.”
- Match your soft skills to those you identified from the job description.
- Go through your list once more, looking for soft skills and attributes that don’t appear in the description but are relevant to the position, and add those to your final list.
In your resume objective or personal summary, explain how your soft skills make you an asset to the company.
“Reliable and conscientious warehouse associate with 3 years of experience coordinating, planning, and packing shipments in a high-volume, fast-paced
environment. Track record of superior communication with team and vendors.”
Soft skills are difficult to measure, so it’s crucial to show what you’ve done with them in the form of measurable achievements when adding them to the employment section of your resume.
“A job candidate applying for a supervisor or manager position could point out
how they used their leadership skills in a previous role like this:
“Hired, trained, and mentored a team of 5 summer interns to successfully
deploy a new data management process that saved the department more than $1500.00 per quarter.”
Every resume should have a separate skills section. How you display your skills will largely depend on the resume format you choose. You can mix your soft skills with the rest of your skills, create a separate skills section for them with an appropriate heading, or add them to a separate section under a main skills heading. You might choose to simply list them or put them in context.
For example, a soft skills section for a marketing intern might look like this:
- Wrote 20 blog posts
- Co-produced the company’s first ebook
- Developed new social media campaign that increased customer engagement by more than 30% in three months
- Conducted comparative analysis of customers to identify key priorities for new campaigns
- Measured web and social performance for insight into business’s impact of online campaigns
- Created an SEO strategy that improved organic search traffic to the website by 15% YoY
- Initiated branding strategy for new product launch
In-demand soft skills employers look for
It’s a good idea to use a variety of soft skills on your resume, as long as they are relevant to the job. But some soft skills and personality traits are more in demand than others because they can be applied to just about any job.
Soft skills that will make you shine include:
Dependability: Employers want to know they can count on their employees.
Collaboration: Employees that work well together make an effective and productive team.
Verbal and written communication: Being able to communicate means building and maintaining relationships in the workplace and with customers.
Adaptability: Being able to adjust to new situations and environments shows that you are open-minded and willing to learn, which helps the company in the long run.
Conflict resolution: Employees that can handle conflicts are crucial to a business’s success.
Problem-solving: No matter what you do for a living, being able to reason through situations as they arise and use your imagination to develop solutions is incredibly useful to employers.
How do I improve my soft skills?
Soft skills can be improved over a person’s lifetime. Some ways you can develop yours include:
- Expanding your knowledge.
- Asking for and accepting feedback from others.
- Practicing self-awareness.
- Being mindful of how you communicate.
- Looking for ways to be more effective in the workplace.
- Learning from your mistakes.
- Thinking about the big picture.
Do employers place a higher value on hard skills versus soft skills?
Employers prefer employees who have a mix of soft and hard skills because they are well-rounded. Such employees can do so more effectively than if they didn’t have soft skills.
For example, an auto mechanic who can fix a car engine and communicate well with customers stands a higher chance of achieving customer satisfaction than a mechanic who can fix car engines but struggles to communicate effectively.
Are there different jobs and industries where soft skills are more important?Soft skills are important for every job and industry because they complement hard and technical skills, increasing performance and therefore the company’s chance of success.
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