In an increasingly competitive workforce, hard skills are not always enough to land you the job. While a relevant degree, similar experience, and a long list of technical skills might be impressive, they’re often not enough to make your CV stand out.
This is where soft skills come in. Listing soft skills such as on your CV shows recruiters that you have the right personality and people skills as well as technical proficiency. Employers value some soft skills more than others, however.
To make things clearer, keep reading our guide on soft skills below and find out how to make your CV shine.
What are soft skills?
In a nutshell, soft skills are interpersonal skills that make you excel in the workplace. They relate to your personality, attitude, and mindset and are becoming increasingly valued by employers. These include skills such as:
- Leadership qualities
- Team oriented
- Organization skills
- Time management
Soft skills differ from hard skills in that they are not directly related to one job or field. A data analyst job opening may need various qualifications regarding SQL databases, for example. Applicants who show on their CV that they are a clear communicators, work well with teams, actively listen and help solve problems with novel solutions, however, are more likely to get the job.
Why are soft skills important?
Showing these skills on a CV tells recruiters that you’re not just technically qualified but will be an asset to the company.
In fact, a study by Stanford University researchers suggests that it’s these sorts of skills that matter most. Long-term studies show that 75% of the time, long-term success depends on soft skills rather than technical knowledge.
Day-to-day life at work involves a lot of communication, problem-solving, negotiating, and overcoming various challenges. While recruiters know some of the precise qualifications you’re going to need to do your job, they look for soft skills to make sure you can handle things that aren’t listed in the job description.
Having a soft skill gap can limit your professional and personal growth, hold back your career, and make work more difficult. As more and more tasks are becoming automated, the value of soft skills is likely to increase in the coming decades.
Top soft skills recruiters are looking for
While there are a lot of soft skills you can develop, there are some that recruiters value more than others.
Many companies are now looking for individuals that treat work challenges and resources as a way to grow as a person. This includes personally and professionally.
A person with a growth mindset seek to better themselves and their skills. They will seek out challenges and responsibility rather than shy away from them, accept feedback, and grab opportunities to learn with both hands.
This soft skill can be showcased on your CV, explaining that this mindset can help a company grow too.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to become aware of your actions, their consequences, and your own feelings. It involves valuing the thoughts and feelings of others too, empathizing with their motivations, wants, and needs.
The qualities of emotional intelligence are multi-faceted. The most commonly cited, however, include:
- Empathy: identifying with other people.
- Self-control: maintaining control of one’s emotions and thoughts.
- Self-awareness: being aware of one’s emotions, thoughts, actions, and consequences.
- Motivation: having drive, ambition, and valuing long-term success over short-term payoff.
- Amicability: being able to speak to people easily and get along with them easily.
For some people, this comes naturally and is a professional application of social skills. Emotional intelligence is especially important for those applying to leadership or want to in the future.
Critical thinkers are able to see things clearly, breaking problems down into solvable tasks. Critical thinking is a soft skill that recruiters highly value as it shows you are able to think your way through challenges logically, evaluate potential problems, and come up with solutions.
This is a skill that can come in handy in a lot of different jobs and roles within a company. Recruiters like critical thinkers because they can help identify inefficiencies, management solutions, and come up with new ideas in the future to help a company grow.
Communicating is the heart of most businesses. If you can’t communicate yourself clearly, problems may not get solved, clients might become confused, and colleagues may not be able to work alongside you easily.
Communicating is a soft skill that employers really appreciate. You can demonstrate clear communication skills by making your CV's language simple, clear, and punchy. Should you get to the interview stage, you can also show clear communication by actively listening. This means not just hearing the words other people say, but engaging with them as you listen and offering unique genuine perspectives in response.
Where to add soft skills to CV
Soft skills shouldn’t be listed among your technical qualifications. Instead, you should implement soft skills into your summary paragraph and your professional experience section.
Your summarising paragraph can show skills such as communication through the language you use. You should also make sure to mention soft skills explicitly, however. Simply being aware of your own soft skills and how important they are can give you an edge.
Your professional experience section should not just say that you have a skill, but also explain how you used it.
For example, you could mention that your communication skills were used to negotiate a supply contract and how much this saved your previous company. Emotional intelligence, too, could be demonstrated through conflict resolution or leadership examples from your career.
Soft skills are essential to your CV. While they are not always as easy to acquire as hard skills, they are often more valuable. With technical skill requirements changing all the time, soft skills serve as long term proficiencies that will be useful for years to come.