Making the right impression in your resume and subsequent job interview can be a minefield sometimes when it comes to presenting the relevant skills to your future employer.
But did you know there are two types of skills that you can get across that show your suitability for the job? And not everyone gets both across effectively in order to make the best impression.
The Two Types of Skills That Determine Your Suitability for a Job
The skills we have can be categorised into hard skills and soft skills. But what is the difference?
Hard skills are those that show our specific abilities and knowledge through education and previous work experience. Soft skills focus more on our behaviours and personality including how we communicate, our attitude and how we approach certain problems.
While hard skills are what we tend to focus more on (both us and the interviewer), soft skills are equally important in showing our suitability to the job. A CareerBuilder’s study conducted in 2014 looked at data collected from over 2000 Human Resources specialists and found that 77% of those surveyed believed conveying soft skills were just as important as hard skills with 16% believing they’re, in fact, more important.
Why is this? While hard skills show your basic competency for a job, soft skills matter more in the long term. They indicate to the employer how well you’ll fit in with the company environment, how well you cooperate with others and your ability to overcome problems and challenges.
You Can Easily Outperform Other Candidates When You Include Your Soft Skills in the Resume
Most people will focus on their hard skills for a job especially in their resume and this is where you can hold an advantage by putting more emphasis on your soft skills before you even enter the interview room.
Resumes have been routinely structured to focus on our hard skills – our experience, our education and most commonly listing out our job duties all of which show we can technically do the job but doesn’t convey our personal traits and abilities. Therefore, the benefit of including more of your soft skills within your resume will mean you have an even higher chance of landing that all-important interview.
It Is Not About What Soft Skills You Have But How You Present Them
The tricky thing with soft skills is how to present them effectively. It can be restricting and hard to convey on a resume without using cliché and general terms such as ‘strong leadership skills’ or ‘strong communication skills’.
Interviews can be especially difficult because you aren’t in control of how the questions will be structured and the most common structure tends to centre around hard skills. Time in interviews is also limited so it can be difficult to find a suitable opportunity to present your soft skills in a natural and effective way plus the possible answers vary immensely but this can be used to help you stand out from other interviewees.
How To Land Your Dream Job by Showing Your Soft Skills Skillfullly
So at this point you may be considering tailoring your resume to include more of your personality traits and ability to handle problems. This is an important stage to include your soft skills and will help you stand out to the employer when selecting possible candidates. And of course, presenting your soft skills well in the interview will show your mindset and long-term fit within the company.
Presenting Soft Skills in Your Resume
When it comes to your resume, it’s all about wording your experience that also reflects your ability to communicate in a positive way, show your flexibility, multitasking skills and your approach to problems and challenges.
According to CareerBuilder, the top soft skills employers are looking for are: a strong work ethic, dependability, positivity, self-motivation, team-working skills, organisational skills and multitasking, working well under pressure, communication, flexibility and confidence.
Include Soft Skills in Job Duties
It’s all too easy to list what duties our previous roles involved but the secret is to word it in a way that shows off your soft skills at the same time.
- Worked with a variety clients building long-term, positive relationships (shows you’re personable and a good communicator)
- Headed several successful projects within a big team (shows team-work ability, dependability and communication)
- Was a point of call for relaying and explaining complicated processes to other members of the team (shows flexibility, willingness to help, team-work)
- Sought out by managers to edit and streamline training guides for new starters (shows reliability, multitasking skills and dependability)
When it comes to relaying your soft skills within your resume, you’re essentially looking to convey the impact that you have had in previous roles.
Presenting Soft Skills in Your Interview
When it comes to the interview, you have little control over what you’re asked. Believe it or not, not all interviewers are good or ask questions in the right way in order to allow you to show off your soft skills in particular.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t mould your answer to what seems like a ‘hard-skill’ question.
For example, the interviewer may ask you something like “how would you define good team-work?” While this comes across as a fairly closed question, don’t be afraid to rephrase the question in your head to “tell me about a time you worked well in a team.” In other words, don’t feel restricted to just tell them your opinion on what makes a good team – give good examples of why this is so from your own experience.
“Good team work involves effective communication at all levels and the ability to listen and understand each others needs and roles within the team. I know this because good teamwork was paramount in the major, successful projects I worked on with our biggest clients. I was part of a large team working under pressure and to quick deadlines which meant communication with each other resulted in a much smoother operation.”
Just Get in the Soft Skill Mindset
When it comes to your interview or your resume for that matter, don’t be afraid to inject your personality traits where possible. Don’t always be restricted by the interviewer’s vocabulary or stick to what you think they want to hear. Allow yourself to stand out by telling your story rather than your philosophy – not only will you convey your soft skills effectively but also shape the interview to your advantage by showing them your positive way of dealing with situations.
So remember, while your hard skills are showing your ability to do the job, getting your positive mindset across and showing how you can fit in well to the new job, team and company to promote long-term suitability to the role will more likely land you the job. Not only will the recruiters see this important side of you, but it will inject more of a human and personable level that is just as important to the role as your hard skill abilities.