As a positive person who thrives working in cohesive teams, office-based and sporting ones, I’ve been acutely aware of the power of soft skills for a long time.
I find myself talking about these transferable skills more and more in my day-to-day recruitment conversations because they are increasingly valued by employers. If you’re interested to know what soft skills are and how to identify them visit my previous blog.
Hard skills can be assessed through qualifications and tests, and the successful application of your hard skills can be illustrated in your CV through specific achievements, milestones, and targets.
Conversely, soft skill strengths are hard to measure or quantify and they are subjective too, for instance “effective proactivity” can mean different things to different people depending on the work situation, previous experience, and individual personalities.
How do you know which soft skills to showcase in your CV or job application?
Your secret weapon is the job description.
It’s important to tailor your CV specifically for each job because it really strengthens your application, this s to your soft skills too. Read the job description carefully and list all the required skills into 2 categories: soft skills and hard skills. This comprehensive list will help you identify the soft skills.
For example, I’m recruiting for an Electrical Maintenance Technician and the job description includes the requirement for these soft skills:
- Effective communication and interpersonal skills.
- Ability to work on own initiative and within a team.
There are 4 soft skills to include in your CV to meet the requirements for the job.
Where do you include soft skills in your CV?
The soft skills listed above are from a real job description, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that they are generic, and anyone could add these skills to their CV.
Listing them in your CV doesn’t make them true. You need to provide evidence that demonstrates a track record of using a particular skill or skillset. There are a few ways I recommend including soft skills in your CV:
- Within your personal statement.
- As bullet points in the dedicated skills/core competencies section.
- To explain achievements and responsibilities in your employment history.
Follow the STAR method when including your skills in the personal statement and employment history sections. Describe a Situation – Task – Action – Result. Here’s an example:
Electrical Maintenance Technician, Company ABC June 2021 – August 2022
Mitigated disruption during a significant power outage. Through effective communication and interpersonal skills, I coordinated multi-team efforts and expedited delivery of critical repair components which minimised production loss.
A cover letter is a good place to highlight relevant soft skills, for instance if you specifically want to draw the recruiter’s attention to your achievements at Company ABC you could mention them in the cover letter as well as your CV.
Referees can also be helpful if they have personal knowledge of your soft skills.
Your CV has impressed and now it’s time to convey your soft skills during the job interview.
The important thing is to make sure you have properly prepared for your interview. You connected your skills with those required for the job in your CV and now the interviewer will want to delve deeper during a good conversation.
Adopt the STAR method again and incorporate more relevant detail and context for each of your soft skill achievements.
Role-playing before going to the interview gives you a chance to test out what you want to say and the time to structure a clear answer. For more information on the STAR technique and preparing for interview download our guide.
Active listening is a simple but oh so important soft skill that can significantly impact your interview success. By understanding what the interviewer is asking you can respond thoroughly, give a better answer, and begin to build rapport.
Developing Your Soft Skills
It’s a good idea to look at what you can do to develop your soft skills if you’re thinking longer-term about your career progression.
If you have already carried out some self-assessment to recognise your transferable skills, then you should be in a good position to decide what areas you need to develop. Consider building the development of specific soft skills into your objectives. For example, if you want to improve your leadership skills you could set an objective which requires you to step up and manage a project, small team, or initiative.
Personally, I’ve found asking for feedback and taking time to reflect on that feedback have made me more aware of how my actions affect others. Working with a coach has provided insight to help me mature my soft skills, through their guidance, alternative perspective, and signposting online resources.