You’re scanning through the job description for a role you are applying to. Some buzzwords keep coming up: “strong communication skills”, “able to work collaboratively”, “strong organizational skills”. They seem almost too evident to invest resume space on — does your ability to communicate with team members overpower your ability to use certain computer programs relevant to the role? Is it worth investing valuable resume space on something that seems obvious?
It’s a question I’ve faced in helping build resumes too. The balance of hard skills (the technical things you have learned to do), versus soft skills (those personality traits that make you a good human to work with). And sure, those soft skills listed on the job description might seem like something really evident — we all know how to communicate, or organize tasks, or work with people, in some way. So why use space on a resume to address that?
Answer: When it’s written on the job description — whether you’ve seen the terminology on 50 job descriptions or five — it’s there for a reason. Hiring managers are looking for those traits in a team member, whether it seems obvious or not. So, try to address the points just as you would a particular skill for your field.
Some examples of soft skills are: being a team player, attention to detail, communication skills, interpersonal skills, adaptability, problem-solving.
How do you ensure they are useful on your resume when applying for a certain role? Try some of the following tips:
1. Get Particular
Before you start looking at jobs, I recommend making a list of the soft skills you think are your strongest, and rank them in order of strength. It might sound silly, but it will get you really considering not only what you are good at, but why (and concrete examples are incredibly useful once we get to the resume writing!).
From that list, you will be able to compare to job descriptions and pick out those you think are highly relevant to the role and align with their required skills and abilities.
2. Find the Trends
In going through the job description, which of those soft skill buzzwords appears more than once? Are there many that appear a handful of times? Take that as a hint that those skills are important to the organization, and prioritize those recurring ones on your resume.
3. Support with Strong Examples
A key skills list in your resume sidebar can be helpful for a hiring manager to see exactly what you think are your top skills, but remember to quantify those in your work history bullet points as well. For example, if you’ve listed “communication skills” on that key skills list, think of how you have used communication skills positively and impactfully in past positions or volunteer roles — and write that down.
This will also help if you get to the interview faze as you’ll have already pinpointed a particular example of how you used that skill effectively.
4. Cut out what isn’t Relevant
Save yourself as much space as you can, and invest your valuable bullet points into soft skills that the job description asks for specifically.
If the job description lists “organizational skills”, but doesn’t reference “interpersonal skills”, focus your energy on quantifying the organizational examples you have in your work experience toolkit.
If you have interpersonal skills in your bullet points, consider taking it out to give yourself more room for other more relevant skills.
— written by Lucy Fox
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