When you create a resume, CV, or cover letter, soft skills enhance your educational and work experience. These are skills that transfer from job to job and may not have a quantifiable effect on your work but are invaluable, nonetheless.
Soft skills are behaviors and traits that allow you to be successful in a job. A staggering 93% of employers value soft skills in an employee. They are different than hard skills or technical skills and are often personality traits. Your soft skills aid in communication, behavior, and company culture building. They are personal attributes that help you interact and work well with others.
Because soft skills are innate, they are often easier to learn than technical or hard skills. They are worth the time to develop because they are applicable across any profession and any industry. If you aren’t sure where to put them in your history, Jobseeker has both free and paid templates that highlight soft skills on your resume.
Categorizing soft skills
Soft skills fall into different categories and many job descriptions request certain soft skills, including the following:
- Independent worker: 2 million jobs
- Analytical thinking:7 million
- Project management:8 million
- Time management:6 million
- Scheduling: 5 million
- Communication skills:1 million
You may have heard of soft skills referred to as “people skills” that show how a candidate reacts under pressure and interacts in the workplace. Some recruiters use soft skills to determine a candidate’s professional potential.
Soft skills you need in your resume
No matter what type of job you’re applying for, there are certain soft skills you should highlight when you create a resume, CV, or cover letter. When crafting your resume, be straightforward and honest about the soft skills you have and the ones you need to develop, as interviewers can often spot them or the lack of them quickly.
Time management is one of the most popular soft skills, as the cost of employing you drops as you are more efficient. These skills include things like goal setting, planning, prioritizing, organization, and stress management.
One of the most important skills in any relationship in life is communication. This includes active listening practices, constructive feedback, presentation, written communication, and verbal communication. These skills allow you to share feelings and ideas effectively and in productive ways. They also help avoid miscommunications that come from an inability to give or receive feedback.
Problem-solving skills are valued in any job and may help you move up the ladder faster than those without them. Skills associated with problem-solving include:
- Decision making
- Logical reasoning analysis
Leadership is a hard quality to define, but one that people notice almost immediately. These skills help you guide, train and mentor those around you. Soft leadership skills are valuable because they show investment in the company and your own initiative. They also give recruiters and hiring managers insight into your desire and ability to be promoted into a stronger leadership role. Leadership soft skills include:
- Cultural intelligence
- Management skills
In industries like design and art, creativity is expected, but the truth is that creativity is also a soft skill that is applicable to all jobs. Some creative soft skills include questioning, experimentation, innovation, mind mapping, and imagination. Any professional can benefit from a strong set of creative soft skills.
Another soft skill that is hard to define but visible quickly is teamwork. Those who can work effectively to accomplish tasks in small groups are extremely valuable employees. They also build up other employees, resolve conflicts, exchange ideas, coordinate and collaborate, and mediate when problems arise.
Employers value employees with teamwork skills at every level. When conflict and collaboration are handled at entry levels by employees, upper-level executives and employees interfere less in the day-to-day operations of every department.
Those with work ethic skills show up ready to work, stay focused and attentive during the workday, and put effort into everything they do. Soft skills you can develop include:
Those with interpersonal skills know how to put people at ease instantly and develop good relationships with healthy boundaries. Interpersonal skills include diplomacy, tolerance, networking, humor, and empathy.
Organization and attention to detail are valuable skills to have in any job. Employers want to know that you’re dedicated to your work and determined to do a clean, organized job. Attention to detail is often what sets apart workers who are truly invested in the job and the vision, and those who come to work for a paycheck alone.
Soft skills related to detail include critical observation, questioning, acuity, introspection, and scheduling.
Adaptability or flexibility
Workers in today’s world must adapt to constantly changing trends, schedules, and even office locations. You may be working remotely when you originally planned to work in an office atmosphere. Your team may change over the course of your employment. Your company may be bought, and you may end up with new management. The more adaptable you are, the more likely you are to be successful at your job.
Adaptability skills include but are not limited to:
Adaptable workers are vital in times of crisis or chaos. Supervisors and executives know they can rely on adaptable workers in a changing and uncertain environment.
Soft skills by industry
While soft skills are transferable across many jobs and industries, they are more valuable in different situations. Some soft skills specific to the industry or job include the following:
- Healthcare: Empathy, attention to detail, stress management, positive attitude, time management, confidence, and work ethic
- Customer service: Taking responsibility, depersonalization, conflict resolution, self-control, listening, and communication
- Education: Assertiveness, public speaking, patience, enthusiasm, motivation, stress management, communication
- Digital marketing: Honesty, creativity, teamwork, multitasking, tenacity, curiosity, acceptance of criticism
- Accounting and finance: Attention to detail, deductive reasoning, critical thinking, accuracy, organization, active learning, time management, and problem-solving
- Sales and marketing: Sociability, empathy, persuasion, negotiation, public speaking, critical thinking, teamwork, time management, and communication
How to develop soft skills
You likely have some of these soft skills and need to develop others. You show true dedication to the job when you learn additional skills, and doing so is a constant process.
To develop soft skills, you must always be open to feedback, both positive and negative. Listen to managers, supervisors, and colleagues for constructive criticism to help you improve. Thank the person who gave you the feedback and develop a plan to apply it.
When communicating with others, think of how you address them, what tone of voice you’re using, and how to clear up your message. Watch others for communication tips and techniques. Communication includes email, presentations, online meetings, and face-to-face interaction.
If you have a good relationship with your managers and other employees, it’s easier to communicate and develop important soft skills. Emphasize teamwork and build relationships within the workplace. Look for ways to connect with co-workers on a personal level by asking about their interests, hobbies, or family. Look for those with experiences like your own to establish a connection.
Can soft skills get you the job?
While work experience and education are the most important parts of your resume, soft skills can tip the scales in your favor if you are up against someone with a similar background. Use your tangible and intangible qualities to help you get ahead of the competition.