How do you add skills like “team spirit” or “positive attitude” to your resume without sounding pretentious? How do you put your soft skills – your ability to listen, your compassion, your friendly personality – down on paper? Well, ready or not, you’re going to have to find a way, because according to a 2017 Global Trends Survey recently published on LinkedIn, 35% of recruiters stated that soft skills assessment will drive their future recruiting trends. Your soft skills are going to be as carefully evaluated as the “hard” skills that are directly related to your profession.
What are today’s most important soft skills? According to surveys from sources as diverse as Bloomberg, the American National Association of Colleges and Employers, and lynda.com, the soft skills that today’s employers want most are Leadership, Teamwork / Collaboration, Communication, Creative Problem-Solving, Motivation / Drive, Flexibility / Adaptability, Analytical Thinking, and Strategic Planning.
Different companies call these skills by different names, but they all want candidates who possess soft skills that align not only with the needs of the job but with their company culture as well. So how can you communicate these increasingly vital skills?
How to talk about soft skills on your resume
You obviously can’t just add a list of keywords to your resume hoping to catch a recruiter’s attention. Imagine how that would read: “Practical, punctual, respectful, service-minded”. The recruiter will take one look and think, “Oh great, this one’s a boy (or girl) scout”. Right into the trash can.
So how can you demonstrate that you really do have the soft skills you believe you have? The best way is to include key soft skills related to the position as you write about your accomplishments.
For example, to highlight your leadership abilities, you could say something like:
“When my team was on a tight deadline to finalize a project and our manager was out sick, I took the initiative to call for a brainstorming to find ways to get the work done faster. Together, we found a solution and delivered the project two a day earlier than expected.”
This shows that you aren’t afraid to step into a leadership role – and that you get results when you do. It also shows that you’re a team player, and that you have initiative. Triple whammy!
How to talk about soft skills during your interview
When it comes to soft skills, recruiters aren’t simply going to ask you “Are you a good communicator?” Instead, they’ll ask behavioral interview questions. This type of question focuses on what you’ve done and how you’ve responded to things in the past. They usually take the form of, “Tell about a time when…” or “Give me an example of…”
By asking behavioral questions, your recruiter is trying to gain insight into how you function on the job. Your answers to such questions should focus not only on things you did, but also on what the outcome was. Did you achieve a successful result? Did you solve a problem? If you were unsuccessful or didn’t solve a problem, what did you learn from the experience?
Success in business, no matter how tech-focused it’s become, can still come down to people’s interactions with each other. Remember, there are lots of other candidates with the same “hard” skill set as you who are applying for the same job. So don’t underestimate the importance of your warm personality, your sense of ethics, your entrepreneurial spirit, or your positive attitude. Your soft skills are extremely valuable to recruiters and the companies they work for, and they provide you with an opportunity to stand out from the pack.