Selling your soft skills

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Hard skills on your resume might be what get you noticed. But it’s your ‘soft skills’ that will make you a stand-out candidate at the interview (and move you up the ladder when you’re in a job). Below, find out why soft skills are so critical these days and how to show your human side to land the job.

So, what are soft skills in the workplace?

Think back to your favorite teacher, manager, or sports coach. You remember them because they made you feel encouraged, listened to, and understood. Soft skills – like communication, problem-solving, teamwork, and interpersonal skills – are critical for success but can be challenging to quantify. They’re the skills that make you a better colleague, a better leader, a better human being. The skills that make people trust and value you.

Why are soft skills so in-demand right now?

Email, messaging apps, and emojis are substituting eye contact and conversation. But it has created a disconnect. Closing this ‘soft skills gap’ is key to building high-performing teams and market-leading organizations.Indeed, the number of companies addressing empathy and interpersonal skills doubled in 2020.

How to best communicate your ‘soft skills’ in a resume?

A convincing description of your soft skills alongside your hard skills list can tip the balance as to whether your resume lands on the hiring manager’s desk or the reject pile. Instead of a dry list of words like ‘teamwork,’ or ‘influencing skills’ say, ‘Organized weekly get-togethers to improve morale and communication.’ And ensure your examples align with the job level. While ‘effective communication skills’ might suffice for an entry-level position, a manager role will demand more demanding soft skills like influencing and conflict-resolution.

How to showcase your soft skills in an interview?

The words you choose. Your tone of voice. Your body language. They’re all channels for demonstrating your enthusiasm and ability to connect with others. Before the day, practice talking about your experience out loud with clear, concise answers. Be ready to answer questions about soft skills:

Problem-solving skills: Interviewers probe your problem-solving skills to gauge your ability to gather and analyze information, make logical decisions, and build solutions. Think of tangible situations where you used your soft skills creatively to overcome challenges.

Values: How would ex-colleagues describe you as a person? What charities or causes are important to you? Interviewers ask these types of questions to determine whether you have the soft skills to bring together your colleagues around the company’s shared purpose. Do your homework and show how your values align with those of your target firm.

Empathy and emotional intelligence: Tell us about a time you handled a demanding customer. When did you use your conflict resolution skills to diffuse a challenging team situation? Gather examples of how you have used your soft skills to communicate effectively and positively influence colleagues at all levels.

Teamwork: Strong teamwork differentiates leading firms from the rest. Interviewers will want to judge whether you can bond with all types of people. They’ll also want to weed out selfish or egotistical ‘lone wolves’ who can wreak havoc with a team’s equilibrium. Use anecdotes that describe your role in the team effort, the contributions you made, and what your team accomplished.

Adaptability and resilience: Today’s complex working world means quickly adjusting to – and recovering from – new situations and challenges. Interviewers need to know that you’re open-minded, welcome new opportunities, and won’t freak out if you need to do something that falls outside your job scope. Come prepared with examples of how you have successfully navigated a fast-changing environment.

While hard skills are indispensable, employers fight to hire, retain, and promote people with the right mix of interpersonal abilities. Showcasing your soft skills throughout your job search is the best way to apply for a job.

At Adecco, we’re here to support you every step of the way to finding a great job and getting better at it. Our Aspire Academy offers free access to re-skilling and upskilling programs in a range of hard skills. And check out our blog for helpful articles, from tips on how to make a big career change, to looking after your mental health at work.