Recently, I shared on this blog that in many cases, the candidate who gets the job isn’t always the one who is most qualified on paper. One reason for this is that employers aren’t just looking at your degree (or lack thereof) or your technical skills. They’re looking for that “something more.” In other words, companies aren’t just hiring employees; they’re building a team. They want to know not just that you’re capable of doing the job, but that you could be compatible with the team they are building. We refer to these qualities as soft skills.
Employers often evaluate soft skills by the questions they ask on the job interview. However, there are some creative ways in which you can highlight soft skills on your resume, as well. This can be a very effective strategy for getting the attention of employers especially if you’re feeling a little self-conscious about your training and job experience.
What Are Soft Skills?
Think of soft skills as non-technical, interpersonal qualities that relate to how you work and interact with others. Soft skills are important because they show that you are a well-rounded candidate who can not only complete tasks but also thrive in a team environment, adapt to changes, and handle challenges with grace. Here are some examples of soft skills that employers look for:
- Communication: This includes both verbal and written communication skills.
- Teamwork: Your ability to work well with others.
- Problem-solving: How you approach difficulties or unexpected situations.
- Leadership: Your capability to guide, inspire, and manage others.
- Adaptability: Your readiness to accept and implement change.
5 Strategies for Highlighting Soft Skills on a Resume
Even if you have concerns about gaps in your work experience or education that might make you seem less qualified on paper, you can often make up for those gaps on your resume by subtly demonstrating your soft skills. Doing so can even make your resume more memorable because prospective employers are “reading between the lines,” so to speak, to find people with these skills. The following five strategies should help.
Quantify Your Achievements
To borrow an old saying, numbers speak louder than words. If you led a team in a previous position, mention how many people were in it. If you completed a project under budget, specify how much money you saved. For example, instead of saying “Led a successful project”, you could say “Led a team of 5 in completing a project 20% under budget”.
Use Action Words
When summarizing your work experience, use engaging verbs like “led”, “managed”, “coordinated”, “developed,” etc. This not only makes your resume more interesting but also subtly conveys that you’re a person who takes action and possesses the soft skills employers are seeking. For example, “Coordinated a team of four to meet tight deadlines for five projects” demonstrates your leadership and teamwork skills.
Highlight Diverse Experiences
You might presume, as many people do, that if you’ve worked in a wide range of industries or roles and include these on a resume, it subtly suggests that you lack focus. However, in the right context, it can actually be a great way to underscore your soft skills. Diverse experiences tell an employer that you are adaptable and comfortable dealing with different types of situations and people. Try framing your diverse work experience by listing it among your strengths, underscoring that your experience has made you a creative problem-solver.
Tailor Your Resume to the Position
Finally–you’ve likely heard me say this before, but it’s absolutely essential to tailor your resume to each job position you apply for. Don’t just mass-send the same copy of your resume to a dozen employers; personalize it. Emphasize the specific qualifications you have that make you the right candidate for that job. As part of that process, make sure to read the job posting thoroughly and tailor your resume to highlight the soft skills mentioned in the posting. If the job requires excellent communication skills, for instance, provide examples of your experiences where you demonstrated this skill.
In many cases, soft skills actually matter more to an employer than hard skills. By emphasizing these qualities on your resume, you enable yourself to stand out better to an employer and generate more interest–even if someone else may have more actual experience or technical skills than you do. As you can probably tell, I place a lot of emphasis on getting the resume right when working with my clients. If you want some extra help landing the job you want, I’m always available to chat. Just access my calendar here and schedule yourself a free initial consultation.