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One Item That Is Often Absent in Resumes but Extremely Important: Soft Skills

One Item That Is Often Absent in Resumes but Extremely Important: Soft Skills

Resumes are your first (and often only) chance to impress a prospective employer.

They may have received hundreds of applications for the role you’re going for. If your resume is stacked-full of professional qualifications and work experience – then you may be surprised to find that your application doesn’t stand out.

If you’re failing to reach the interview stage, then you should definitely look at adding a selection of ‘soft skills’ to your resume.

Soft Skills: The Difference Between a Weak and Strong Resume

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term soft skills, I’ll give you a few examples:

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  • Conflict resolution.
  • Creativity.
  • Decisiveness.
  • Responsibility.
  • Time management.

As you can see from the above, soft skills are intangible and non-technical. In other words, they are skills that you’re unlikely to have a certificate for.

Now, just to be clear, it is of course important to list any relevant professional qualifications and experience on your resume. However, to help your resume catch the attention of a prospective employer, you should ensure that your soft skills jump off the page(s).

As an example for you, imagine that you are applying for a job as an accountant. It’s probable that the majority of applicants will have accountancy qualifications and relevant work experience.

What they may not have (on their resume at least), is demonstrable soft skills. If your resume clearly shows that you are a great team player and have first-rate communication skills, then you’ll have an excellent chance of being selected for an interview.

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How to Boost Your Resume by Adding Soft Skills

Let’s get straight to it.

Soft skills are in high demand by employers. The reasons are obvious. They want employees who:

  • Know how to solve problems.
  • Are easy to work with.
  • Are adaptable (as opposed to stuck in their ways).

Before updating your resume, take some time to think about what soft skills you have. For example, are you good at working under pressure? How about observational skills – are you able to spot trends?

My suggestion is to come up with 5-10 soft skills that you genuinely have a talent for.

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To help you out, here’s a list of common soft skills that you may be able to add to your resume:

  1. Communication.
  2. Conflict resolution.
  3. Critical observation.
  4. Decisiveness.
  5. Flexibility.
  6. Leadership.
  7. Problem solving.
  8. Self-motivation.
  9. Team work.
  10. Time management.

To help discover which soft skills you excel at, you may want to ask a friend or colleague to give their honest opinion/perspective on you.

The next step is to come up with examples for each soft skill. It’s no use just saying that you are a good problem solver (for instance), you need to show why this is the case.

You can do this by using real examples from your experience. It could be something along the lines of… “In my previous role, I was often presented with issues and problems that no one else in the company could help with. However, I discovered that with persistence, I was able to resolve these problems – sometimes very quickly.”

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If you’ve done all the above, then you’re ready to add the soft skills to your resume.

The best way to do this, is to: Show, don’t tell.

This means that you should embed your soft skills within examples taken from your academic, personal and professional experiences. Let the examples clearly illustrate your soft skills.

In terms of placement, soft skills should be spread across all sections of your resume. You don’t want to overdo it of course. As with most things in life, it’s about finding the right balance.

By adding soft skills to your resume, you’ll likely secure an interview – and maybe the job too.

More by this author

Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

  • Intro to Visual Facilitation
    • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
  • Structure
    • Why, What, How to, What If
  • Do It Myself?
    • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
  • Specialize Offering?
    • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

What Is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

    Image Credit: English Central

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    By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

    3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

    The three steps are:

    1. Set a central topic
    2. Add branches of related ideas
    3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

    Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

    Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

    Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

    Word it in a clear and concise manner.

      What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

        Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

        Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

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          You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

          In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

          Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

          Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

          Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

            I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

            In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

            Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

            You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

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            • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
            • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
            • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

            Branch by Branch

            Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

              Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                  Level by Level

                  In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                    Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

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                      Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                        Free-Flow

                        Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                          I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                          What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                          Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                          The Bottom Line

                          When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                          If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                          More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                          Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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