How to Showcase Soft Skills on Your Resume
Oct 06, 2021
7 min read

You’ll hear the phrase “soft skills” thrown around a lot when looking to build your resume. It can be easy to throw in the words “motivated” and “organised” in your resume bio but taking the time to formally assess your soft skills is a vital part of the application process. 

As Neil Carberry, CEO of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, once said, “Business is clear that developing the right attitudes and attributes in people – such as resilience, respect, enthusiasm and creativity – is just as important as academic or technical skills”. 

Employers know full well that technical prowess is useless if a candidate cannot communicate well with others or develop a sensitivity to the needs of the consumer.  

What are Soft Skills?

Essentially, soft skills are the combination of attitudes, abilities and behaviours that help you effectively do your job. Whereas hard skills relate to technical qualifications (such as programming proficiency or languages spoken), soft skills relate to personality and disposition. 

The great thing about soft skills, is that they are highly transferrable, so even if your previous position was very different to the one you are applying for, you will likely have developed communicative, organisational, or motivational skills that will help you in your new role.

This isn’t to say that soft skills can’t be learnt, and many people pay thousands of dollars to learn soft skills through online courses. From teamwork to problem solving, these skills can be the real key to workplace success.

What are Good Examples of Soft Skills?

Work Style Skills: 

These skills refer to the way you approach your work. It is important to remember that there is no “right” way to work, but certain approaches might suit different companies better. A small start-up might want self-starters, with high levels of self-motivation and flexibility. An established corporation on the other hand might be looking for excellent team players, with attention to detail and an ability to work to fixed targets.

Skills for Start-Ups and Small Businesses:

  • Self-starter
  • Responsibility
  • Initiative
  • Flexibility
  • Self-motivation
  • Self-supervision

Skills for Established Corporations and Large Businesses:

  • Target-oriented
  • Collaborative
  • Team-player
  • Organised
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Communicative
  • Dependability
  • Growth mindset

Disposition/Personality Skills:

These skills communicate personal character traits that reflect how well you might gel with a team. Employers increasingly care a lot about culture fit, and how you might inspire others with your energy and enthusiasm. These can be more informal for start-ups and small businesses but should be safer and more reserved for established corporations. Make sure you avoid cliches! 

Skills for Start-Ups and Small Businesses:

  • Humorous
  • Energetic
  • Optimistic 
  • Intercultural sensitivity
  • Lively
  • Friendly
  • Empathetic

Skills for Established Corporations and Large Businesses:

  • Courtesy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Patience
  • Respectful
  • Social
  • Positive attitude
  • Diplomatic

How do I Figure Out My Own Soft Skills?

There are tonnes more soft skills out there to inspire you, but the best soft skills are those you come up with yourself. Employers will see thousands of resumes with the word “responsible” on there, so demonstrating a vital skill that might not be quite so commonly addressed is a good way to stand out. 

That being said, a resume with wacky or overly intense skills is also to be avoided, since it might make you look a little too unorthodox or undependable. For example, avoid writing “work obsessed”, “rockstar” or “unbelievably organised”. 

If you’re struggling to figure out where to start, Gyfted offer a wide range of clever (and free!) self-assessments to help you get to know yourself. Take the Work Mindset or Emotional Intelligence test to find out your top soft skills and how you work well with others. These tests offer extensive feedback that you can transfer directly to your CV as evidence of your abilities.

As well as this, it is helpful to look back on your previous work and identify situations where you effectively used soft skills to help achieve a goal. Perhaps you overcame a project roadblock by developing an effective communication strategy between key individuals. Or maybe you managed to complete a task within a much faster time frame than expected, thanks to your organisational and self-supervising skills. 

If nothing comes to mind, try reaching out to colleagues, managers or previous collaborators – who might have a better idea of your key soft skills than you. This is particularly useful for those that err on the humbler side, and struggle to talk about their own abilities!

How do I Showcase my Soft Skills on my Resume?

So, you’ve figured out your soft skills – what now? Many people choose to simply list their skills in a dedicated section on the side of their resume. This is useful since it makes them very clear for hiring managers to read. However, many people argue that it is better to back up your skills with evidence, via your “achievements” section. 

Under each previous work experience listing, showcase both your hard and soft skills developed via bullet points or a short description. If you want to communicate that you developed self-supervising skills, write that you “took the initiative to design and implement a new strategy that successfully increased productivity by 35% and was commended by my team”.

The only situation in which you might prefer to list your skills is if the job description is very clear about which soft skills are required for the job. Hiring managers will then likely have a checklist to tick off when scanning resumes, and you want to make this as easy as possible for them. 

A good rule of thumb is to pay close attention to the job description in general, since this is usually where you can find clues as to which soft skills are required for the job. Make sure you address every skill mentioned in your resume or cover and be prepared to back them up with evidence!

Hannah

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