These days, it seems that job hunting has become a science. And only those who are successful at devising the perfect equation will get the job. You must take hard skills and add some great soft skills in order to equal long-term career success.
But What Are Hard and Soft Skills?!
Hiring managers are looking for candidates who have two distinct – yet equally important – skill sets.
Hard skills are those abilities that are acquired through training. As such, they are easy to quantify – making them stand out in a resume. Examples might include:
- Being fluent in more than one language
- Earning a college degree or other certification
- Typing 100 words per minute
- Understanding various computer programming languages
Soft skills might also be referred to as people skills or interpersonal skills. They are highly subjective and difficult to quantify. Basically, soft skills speak to how you interact and deal with other people.
Why Are Soft Skills So Important
When writing a resume, most applicants will easily include all the necessary hard skills. Why? The hard skills are listed in the job description. Parroting them back and emphasizing them in your work history isn’t challenging.
Soft skills are often overlooked – and that is a huge mistake. In fact, for many hiring managers, soft skills might be more important than hard skills.
If necessary, an employer can train an employee in areas where the hard skills are lacking. A two-day conference on social media marketing implementation might be all it takes. However, the employer will have a much harder time training the employee to be patient, hardworking, and a team player.
Soft skills also come in handy when a candidate is lacking in certain hard skills. For example, you may not have experience using the company’s chosen point-of-sales software. However, you do have experience with three other similar systems and have the ability to adapt quickly. In this case, the soft skill (adaptability) might outshine the lack of a hard skill (knowledge of the chosen POS system).
To put it simply: hard skills might get you the interview, but soft skills will get you the job.
What Soft Skills Do I Need?
Hiring managers agree that there are certain soft skills that are more favorable than others. When writing your resume, look for ways to emphasize the following:
1. The ability to collaborate and work as part of a team.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a job that allows you to work entirely independent of any other person. No matter what career you choose, you’ll be expected to interact with other employees.
Show prospective employers that you can play nicely with others. Write about instances where you’ve been a leader and a follower. Emphasis times when you helped the team meet an important deadline and what your role was in accomplishing that feat.
2. The ability to communicate efficiently.
Again, no employee exists in a vacuum. Communication will happen – and you need to ensure it happens successfully.
You don’t necessarily need to be a brilliant speaker or a published author. However, you do need to be able to master efficient oral and written communication.
Write about presentations you’ve given, times when you’ve persuaded someone to take action, or memos that have inspired change. At the very least, let your perspective employer know you are able to communicate with team members without becoming emotional and ensuring your ideas are understood.
3. The ability to solve problems.
The job search process has various elements and each has different intentions; this skill will most commonly be challenged in the interview. The famous statement always seems to come out: “Tell us about a time when you helped solve a problem.”
For the interview, you’ll want to have several specific examples ready to share. When possible, refer to difficult business problems you’ve helped to resolve – not something mundane like installing a change machine in the break room because the vending machine never accepted dollar bills.
Just because you’ll be expecting the question at the interview doesn’t mean you can skip over a mention of this skill in your resume. Write about how you discovered a problem, how you approached it, who else was involved, what the outcome was and your role in achieving a resolution.
4. The ability to adapt.
This skill is important for everyone – but it is vital for the seasoned employee. Adaptability goes directly against the thought that “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.”
No matter how old you are or how long you’ve been in the workforce, it is essential to prove you aren’t set in your ways. Express your passion for life-long learning. Write about your desire to grow and enhance your skillset. Share instances where you’ve sought the opportunity to learn or expand your career.
5. The ability to resolve conflicts.
If you ever hope for any type of advancement in a company, you’ll have to master the art of conflict resolution.
Conflict resolution is so much more than ending an argument. It also includes a sub-set of resolution skills – persuasion, negotiation, and compromise.
Employers are on the lookout for employees who are capable of creating mutually beneficial working relationships. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. An employee who is interested in establishing a win-win situation that benefits the company and everyone in it is highly valuable.
6. The ability to receive feedback and implement change.
No two companies are exactly alike. Even if you’ve performed tasks X, Y and Z for your last employer, you might not be completing them in a satisfactory manner for your current employer.
Are you willing to accept feedback and criticism? Will you take those tips and implement change or will you sulk in the corner?
Let your prospective employer know you are willing to do whatever he or she suggests. When composing your resume, reflect on a time when you implemented feedback and it yielded a positive result.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
When it comes time to writing your resume, think long and hard about the best way to represent your skills. While employers definitely want someone who is able to communicate, it isn’t enough to simply write, “Excellent written and oral communication skills.”
Instead, write something like this: “Represented Company X at a local trade show by giving a presentation to over 500 potential clients, securing 11 new contracts and $800,000 in additional revenue.”
When reviewing a resume, your hard skills might be what grabs the attention of the hiring manager. But your ability to express soft skills is what will land you the job – and long-term success.
What do you think? Are soft skills just as important as hard skills? Do you know of any vital soft skills we left off of this list? Let us know!
This post was written by Mike Hanski. Mike is a blogger and an essay writing expert at Bid 4 Papers, a company specializing in writing and editing of research papers and essays in different subjects. Contact him on twitter and google+.