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It should come as no surprise—
Hiring managers look for people who can get the job done and work as part of a team.
That’s why your soft skills matter.
But what are they exactly? And how to put them on a resume?
This article will show you:
- What soft skills are and why they’re in high demand at work.
- Lists of top soft skills divided into easy-to-understand subsets with explanations.
- How to identify your top soft skills for a job and how to put them on a resume.
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Looking for information on other types of skills? We’ve got you covered:
- Analytical Skills
- Computer Skills
- Management Skills
- Marketing Skills
- Project Management Skills
- Technical Skills
What Are Soft Skills & Why They’re Important?
Let's start with the basics—
Here’s a definition of soft skills:
Soft skills is a term referring to a set of transferable skills that are highly appreciated by employers. They comprise common sense, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, character traits as well as communication skills among others. Soft skills either can't be acquired or are notoriously hard to acquire through traditional education.
Now, let’s break this down.
The definition says they’re transferable. What does this mean?
In fact, we have a detailed guide to transferable skills, so I'll just outline the main idea here.
In short, transferable skills aren’t job-specific. You have them regardless of the job you’re doing.
For example, if you’re a great communicator you’ll remain one whatever you do.
This segues us smoothly into another part of the definition.
Employers appreciate them. But why?
Let’s put it this way:
If an employer has a choice between:
- a highly-skilled candidate who’s also emotionally intelligent, communicative, and instantly likable, and
- an equally skilled candidate who’s totally anti-social.
Guess who the employer will want to give a job to.
See the point?
With the advent of hiring for attitude, employers focus on soft skills more than ever.
Soft skills in the workplace are the driving force behind any company’s success.
It’s thanks to soft skills that team members are able to effectively collaborate with each other and achieve synergistic results.
You can teach people to use new software, or perform certain job-specific tasks rather quickly.
But you can’t teach them common sense. Or change their character.
This is also how soft skills differ from hard skills.
Hard skills are teachable and testable. You can learn them on the job, at school, or through various courses and certifications.
Soft skills are your interpersonal skills (a.k.a. people skills) the bulk of which depends on your personality and the environment you grew up in.
You can't test whether or not people will get along with each other.
They either will or won't.
Pro Tip: Check out if your employability skills are up to par. Make every employer wants to fight for you!
You can show off your soft skills in a job interview right from the start. How? Learn how to tell the recruiter about yourself, and make a great first impression.
Soft Skills: List and Examples
One of the most common misconceptions about soft skills is that they’re only useful for customer-facing positions.
While it’s true that customer service jobs do require well-developed soft skills—
Almost any other position that involves contact with another human calls for similar skills too.
Since such skills encompass various abilities and qualities, it may be useful to have a list that would help you identify which soft skills you already have, and which ones you need to work on.
But before we move on to our detailed lists—
Just know that a recent iCIMS study has identified the following soft skills as some of the most valued by recruiting professionals:
Let’s take a closer look at each soft skill mentioned above and... add some more.
You can use the lists below as a master list that’ll help you identify your best skills for a resume.
If people had no problems, the existence of businesses would make no sense. Problem-solving skills, along with time-management and organizational skills could easily become the unofficial Holy Trinity of soft skills.
- Benchmark development
- Drawing conclusions
- Project design
- Solution design
- Test development
Time management skills are crucial to working efficiently and effectively. Here’s a look at what this skill subset can refer to:
- Assessment and evaluation
- Goal setting
- Managing appointments
- Meeting deadlines
- Resource management
They say entropy is the natural state of things. This could be true, but only up to a point. The point at which your organizational skills come into play.
- Mental organizational
- Physical organization skills
- Time management
- Work-life balance
Good communication skills are a vital subset of soft skills. Employers value effective communicators able to express themselves clearly, who listen to what others have to say.
- Active listening
- Body language
- Clear speech and writing
- Cross-cultural communication
- Nonverbal communication
- Oral communication skills
- Public speaking
- Written communication skills
This subset is crucial to your success in the workplace. Strong teamwork skills in combination with the other types of soft skills turn you into an A-player.
- Conflict resolution
- Organizational skills
- Planning skills
The most important subset of your soft skills comprises your people skills or interpersonal skills. These skills help you establish good relationships with your coworkers and others.
- Ability to work under pressure
- Conflict resolution
- Decision making
- Emotional intelligence
- Relationship building
Critical thinking skills
Critical thinking skills, also referred to as common sense, allow you to take a step back and judge a situation from a distance. They’re indispensable skills in any kind of position.
With the help of conceptual skills you can visualize complex interdependencies, see the big picture, and find optimal solutions. These skills come in handy to people in managerial positions in particular.
- Abstract thinking
- Cognitive skills
- Creative thinking
- Critical thinking
- Decision making
- Logical thinking
- Organizational skills
Creative Thinking Skills
Creative thinking skills include a wide array of soft skills and abilities that let you see ordinary things from an extraordinary perspective. They help you find innovative solutions to various problems.
- Active listening
- Artistic design
- Creative writing
This is a great subset of skills for project management. Decisions have to be made, and the biggest challenge is to keep your cool and make the best one. Here’s a list of different types of decision-making skills:
- Consensus decision-making
- Consumer decision making
- Data-driven decision-making
- Ethical decision making
- Rational decision
- Shared decision-making
- Team decision-making
To sum up:
The lists could go on almost indefinitely.
You don’t have that much space on your resume, do you?
So it’s crucial to know how to identify and present your top skills on a resume.
Well, you're about to find out in the next section.
Writing a resume requires you to pay attention to many things big and small. Don’t let anything slip your attention, read our guide on what to put on a resume.
Soft Skills for a Resume: How to Pick & List Them
Now that you know what soft skills are—
It’s time to see which of them to put on your resume.
And the answer is—
Well, it depends.
Different positions have different requirements, so the skills you’ll want to put on your resume will vary from one position to another.
This is exactly why it’s crucial for your resume to be tailored to the position you’re pursuing.
Here’s how to choose the best soft skills for a resume in six simple steps:
1. Identify what soft skills employers want.
It’s easy to do this. All you need to do is take a long hard look at the job offer they posted, and note down all the skills the employer looks for.
2. Make a master list of all your soft skills.
You’re free to use the lists above to get inspired. Peek into our detailed guide on resume skills to identify the ones you have.
3. Compare your list to the job offer.
This is how you can identify the right soft skills to put on your resume. Remember: focus on the ones you’re great at. Leave out all the rest.
4. Use the resume experience section to show your soft skills.
The trick is to work them into your resume experience bullet points. They’ll look much more powerful if you find a way to quantify them.
5. Put your soft skills in your resume profile.
6. List your soft skills in a dedicated skills section.
You can give more prominence to your top skills by putting them in a separate resume section labeled Skills.
Pro Tip: Your resume isn’t the only place where you can highlight your relevant skills. Write a cover letter that will put your top skills in the spotlight.
Now look at the examples below to see what this looks like in practice:
Soft Skills—Resume Objective Example
Collaborative and dynamic business analyst with 7+ years of professional experience. Eager to support XYZ Inc. with top problem-solving and analytical skills to support the company’s strategic initiatives. In previous roles increased sales by 20% through identifying a major bottleneck and improving business processes.
Job Description on a Resume—Soft Skills
- Effectively communicated the scope, schedule, and budget of projects to 10+ customers and contractors.
- Led a team of 5 sales representatives and mentored 20+ new hires.
Always try to quantify your experience described in bullet points.
This way you show your real-life impact and turn your boring responsibilities into full-blown achievements for a resume.
Pro Tip: If you want to double the impact of every bullet point in your resume job description, start each one with a powerful resume action word.
Resume—Soft Skills Section Example
- Time management
Pro Tip: To make sure your resume goes past the ATS scan, use the wording that mimics the job ad. For example, if the job ad lists collaboration rather than teamwork, go for collaboration.
Putting the right skills on your resume will give your resume a serious boost. But you can do so much more to up your chances! Learn how to make a resume that will stand out from the crowd.
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building your resume here.
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
Here’s all you need to know about soft skills:
- Soft skills consist of a set of personal traits and transferable skills that allow you to work effectively in a group.
- In contrast to other types of skills, soft skills are hard to learn in a traditional way and are an integral part of your personality.
- Top soft skills that employers look for are problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills among others.
- Always highlight the right soft skills on your resume, and tailor your resume to the job offer.
- Don’t forget to mention your soft skills in a cover letter.
Do you have any questions? Would you like to share your advice? Reach out to us using the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!