Soft skills are qualities that reflect what kind of employee you will be. In reviewing job posts, I found that employers are looking for employees who are self-motivated. Here are a few suggestions of ways to present yourself on resumes and in interviews as an employee who doesn't need to be told what to do.
1. Tell a story that begins with these words: "I took the initiative to. . ." or "I volunteered to. . ."
2. Talk about a time you saw a problem and fixed it.
3. Use the word the employer is looking for: "Demonstrated leadership and self-motivation by . . ."
Every boss dreams about having employees who know who to do the job and care about what they do. If you can communicate that you are this type of person (and you have the right kind of experience and hard skills), you will get the employer's attention and be well on the way to a job offer.
When I ask clients to name their strengths, they often point to broad qualities or skill sets, such as, leadership, communication skills, and flexibility. Too often that’s where they stop. The trick to good personal branding, networking, interviewing, and resume writing is to take this kind of strength and project it to the different audiences you interact with. For example, a senior sales professional and an office manager both need good communication skills, but they are different. Sales representatives present, negotiate, and train to sell. Office managers negotiate to buy products and train employees in job skills. They might also lead meetings. Whenever you are promoting yourself as a professional, think about the person or group you are addressing. What do they need to know about you? What is their biggest concern? Give them what they need to know, and they will give you the kind of respect that opens doors.
I’ve come across several resume experts who say that it is impossible to convey personality on a resume. Nothing could be further from the truth. Soft skills and qualities give an employer a good indication of the kind of person you are and the kind of worker you will be.
For example, a word like flexible indicates that someone can fill different roles. It is important to follow up on this point in the resume and show how you are versatile and able to take on different roles. Similarly, a popular word in job postings that I often use in resume is proactive. Someone who is proactive either prevents a problem from happening or solves it without being told to do so. These are just two examples of how a personality can be conveyed as part of a well-written resume. Here are a few other terms that you can use to give an employer a sense of what you offer:
Many job posts include these terms. Find a way to integrate them into your resume so the employer can tell who you are as well as what you do.
Prospective clients often bring me cover letters that are thicker and longer than their resumes. I ask: If a hiring manager doesn’t want to read a long resume, why do they want to read a longer cover letter?
My philosophy is simple. Keep your cover letter concise and focused on your strongest qualities. State your current duties in a sentence. Sprinkle in a few of the soft skills that employers ask for in job postings. Don’t repeat specific details that will be played out in the resume. Use the cover letter to drive the employer to the resume. Keep it short and focused on the most important qualities you will bring to a new employer.
P.S. There is one exception to what is said above. Some employers, very few, give specific instructions about what they want in a letter. In those rare cases, be sure to address what the employer is looking for.
Everyone wants to describe themselves in resumes and job interviews by using general terms like “hard working” and “team player.” There’s nothing wrong with these phrases, but you can go deeper in telling an employer why you are the kind of person she is looking for.
Here are some examples::
Word/phrase: Took initiative to
An assistant retail manager might say: I noticed that the store manager was spending too much time doing inventory. I took initiative to learn an inventory control system, which let my manager focus on other duties.
Word/phrase: Volunteer to
A nurse might put on her resume: Volunteered to work extra shifts and be on call for holidays.
A sales professional could say in an interviewer: I have always been elf-motivated in following up with clients and solving problems in a timely manner.
A hotel employees might write in her resume: Worked proactively to identify and prevent customer service issues.
Some looking to move up from an entry level job might say during an interview: My supervisor always called me reliable because I never missed a shift, and I’m always on time.
These are just a few examples of how you can present your personal qualities in a way that will make an employer want to hire you. Think about how you go above and beyond what is expected and make sure that you communicate those qualities on your resume and during interviews. Find the right language to show what makes you an ideal employee.
Most jobs require communication skills. It’s not enough to speak in general terms. A good resume will inform prospective employers about specific ways you communication on the job. Here are some verbs that indicate communication skills:
Present (lead presentations)
Ask in-depth questions
This list is not complete. My purpose in providing this list is to help you think about ways to describe your communication skills in the most powerful way.
While it is important to let employers know that you have the experience and skills that are required to do a job. It is just as important to demonstrate that you have the qualities that will make you a good worker, which are called “soft skills.” Employers want to know that you are the kind of person who will be a good worker as well as a skilled employee. Soft skills sell you as a good worker
Soft skills include:
Attention to Detail
Decision Making Skills
Along with soft skills, we need to demonstrate qualities that employers need:
Attention to Detail
Find a way to integrate relevant soft skills and qualities into your resume and interviews. Employers want to good people they can rely on, not just a set of skills. Show them what makes you different.