How to Show Your Soft Skills on a Resume
Wondering how you’re going to make a good impression when you’re light on technical skills? Don’t underestimate your soft skills!
By: Ashley Dolar | Contributor for Let’s Eat, Grandma
Do you know which soft skills to showcase on your resume? Your college degree or your hard-won technical skills might grant you access to the hiring manager’s desk, but to land an all important interview, you’ll need to highlight attributes like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
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The Importance of Soft Skills
Luckily, soft skills – or transferable skills – are useful across all industries, which can come in handy for your job search (and especially if you are looking to change career paths). They also tend to focus heavily on emotional intelligence. That’s a sharp difference from hard skills, which are industry specific, learned through training, and usually technical in nature.
Even more striking, Forbes says that 94% of recruiters think that solid soft skills are even more crucial than experience, especially when it comes to internal promotions or being considered for a leadership role.
Unfortunately, so-called soft skills are hard to quantify on your resume. Usually, I advise clients to use results and metrics to build accomplishment-based bullet points, but we need a different approach to show-off someone’s flexibility or creativity, for example.
So, how do you show your soft skills on your resume?
How to Highlight Soft Skills on Your Resume
Employers in every sector are searching for candidates who bring a strong set of soft skills to the table. Which ones are most important to put on your resume?
Leadership skills are crucial in all industries and across a wide range of job titles from project managers to classroom teachers. These are people who mentor, train, and develop talent at all levels of an organization. They take action, deliver results, and strive to build authentic relationships based on mutual respect.
(Side note: Leadership is often confused with management. A quick way to remember the difference is that leaders have people who follow them while managers have people who work for them.)
Here’s an example of how to demonstrate your leadership skills in your Summary of Qualifications section:
- High-performing, innovative leader and project manager with sound business acumen, strong technical aptitudes, and extensive experience in researching and implementing large-scale, strategic IT solutions
You should also show your leadership skills in your resume experience section:
- Mentored 5+ technicians and junior chemists on a day-to-day basis, providing both technical and problem-solving expertise
Communication skills can be verbal or written and are increasingly important in our remote-work world. They are critical in positions like human resources, sales, and marketing. If you have strong communications skills, it usually means that you have a high level of empathy, a keen interest in listening, and the ability to give meaningful feedback.
Here’s how you can show communication skills in the experience section:
- Negotiated annual contracts with 3+ external partners and coordinated with all vendors on a weekly basis via both phone and email
Teamwork makes the dream work. It involves collaboration, coordination, and the ability to delegate tasks appropriately. Unless you spend eight hours a day in a literal silo, you are definitely participating in some sort of teamwork.
Here’s how you can quantify it for potential employers:
- Collaborated with cross-functional teams and senior leadership to facilitate four large-scale customer events per year
Flexibility is our worldwide motto after a year like 2020. Adaptable people are usually optimistic and can make difficult decisions under pressure. They are the type who rise to the occasion and give it their best shot.
Here’s how to highlight your flexible nature on your resume:
- Responded to COVID-19 protocols by rearranging the office space and coordinating schedules across three teams to accommodate for social distancing
Problem-solving requires strong analytical and critical thinking skills. They are logical, solutions-based, and love a good brainstorming session. They tackle challenges head on and put out fires without batting an eye.
Here’s how you can build problem-solving skills into your resume:
- Reduced overtime expenses by 30% by cross-training six employees to cover short and long-term breaks for the coating machine operator, leading to less equipment downtime
Creativity is cited as the skill of the future because it is so tightly woven into all of the other soft skills. This spark of innovation can touch any part of an organization from graphic design to process improvement.
Here’s how to tout it as one of your core competencies:
- Designed 220+ complex floor plans per year for large-scale events at conference centers while meeting client needs and fire marshall requirements
Time management involves more than just owning a watch. It’s important for employees in both leadership and support roles to show that they can set goals, prioritize, plan, and be organized. It can also show that you have a strong attention to detail.
Here’s how to highlight it in your resume:
- Prepared correspondence and estate documents with client information, saving three hours per week for senior leadership
What About the Skills Section?
Why do you have to go through all the trouble of spelling out your soft skills on your resume if you can just list them in the skills section?
My answer is twofold: You are absolutely allowed to list a few soft skills in your Core Competencies section, but it means more to potential employers to see those soft skills in action. My suggestion is to thread key projects and metrics throughout the rest of your resume, especially in the experience section.
That way hiring managers have concrete evidence of your soft skills right in front of them, making it a lot easier to green light your application and eventually, extend a job offer.
Soft skills, hard skills, summary, bullets… there’s a lot to keep track on your resume, but it doesn’t have to be tough. If you’re still struggling with writing a job-winning resume, check out our downloadable guides filled with the best practices of our professional resume writers, starting at just $25.
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