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Top 20 Soft Skills and Tips on Featuring Them in Your Resume

Soft skills can be key to getting you the job you want. We’ll provide examples of soft skills, as well as the top soft skills you should include in your resume.

Donna Wright Profile
By Donna Wright 3 minute read

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Soft Skills Resume Example

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What are soft skills?

Soft skills include your personality traits, your social skills and other abilities used to perform interpersonal work interactions. Rather than being learned job skills, soft skills are linked to an individual’s character and can be equally important in the workplace. Leadership, communication, strategic thinking and problem-solving are all examples of soft skills. Employers look for soft skills on your resume, your cover letter or your resume cover page which set you apart from other qualified candidates, show you’re a well-rounded candidate and provide insight on how you approach work and complete tasks.

On this page, you will find:

  • Insight on why employers appreciate a candidate’s soft skills
  • Top soft skills for a resume that are valuable for any job role or industry
  • Tips on how to feature your soft skills in your job application
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Hard skills vs. soft skills

While soft skills give employers insight on how you will approach the work environment and perform tasks, hard skills are the technical skills that you learn through work experience, training and education. Every job role in every industry requires a mix of hard skills and soft skills for each employer to successfully perform the job. It’s important that you include a combination of both skill sets on a resume. If you’re looking for more information on the hard skills that employers look for, such as graphic design, database management, Excel, Google Analytics and project management, visit our hard skills page.

Check out these soft skills and hard skills for a Creative Director position:

Soft skills:

  • Management skills
  • Communication skills
  • Detail oriented
  • Leadership skills
  • Management skills
  • Motivation
  • Work ethic
  • Collaboration
  • Visualization
  • Creativity
  • Delegation

Hard Skills:

  • Graphic design
  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • SEM
  • JavaScript
  • Photoshop proficiency
  • Database management
  • Excel
  • Design skills
  • Google Analytics
  • Project management

Top 20 soft skills for a resume

Before you add your skills to a resume, read the job description carefully to see what skills are required for the job role. Make a list and separate them into categories, so you can best describe each group of skills. Below are five major categories of soft skills that are in high demand by employers; you are likely to see them in job roles that you are applying for.

Communication

Whether written or verbal, communication skills are a critical component of any job position. In fact, prospective employers can verify the effectiveness of a job seeker’s communications skills just by reading a resume, cover letter, or application, or during the job interview process. Examples of skills in the communication skills category include:

  1. Active listening – empathetic, observant and comprehensive listening
  2. Public speaking – persuasive, articulate and negotiation skills
  3. Writing – creative, time management and detail oriented
  4. Nonverbal communication – reading body language, facial expressions and hearing tone of voice

Jobs roles that require effective communication skills are: copywriter, nurse and police officer.

Interpersonal skills

Job applicants that possess strong interpersonal skills (or social skills) communicate and interact effectively with others. Examples of good skills for a resume in the interpersonal category include:

  1. Collaboration – reliability, respect and trust
  2. Teamwork – rapport-building, listening and decision-making
  3. Conflict resolution – patience, impartiality and emotional intelligence
  4. Negotiation – mediation, creative problem solving and perseverance

Job roles that require effective interpersonal skills are: attorney, veterinarian and customer service representative.

Work ethic

Within every industry, an employer will expect to hire job candidates that possess the discipline and drive to get the job done. Demonstrating that you have a good work ethic can make you stand out among other job candidates. Examples of skills in the work ethic category include:

  1. Dependability – responsible, reliable and confident
  2. Self-motivation – independent, shows Initiative and time management
  3. Attention to detail – analytical, consistent and accurate
  4. Organization – detail oriented, strategic planning and prioritization

Job roles that require excellent work ethic are: teacher, pilot and firefighter.

Problem solving

Problem-solving skills show an employer how you handle challenges and unexpected situations in the workplace. This category of skills demonstrate how effectively you’ll tackle unforeseen issues, and includes:

  1. Creativity – writing, designing and creative thinking
  2. Research skills – critical thinking, analytical and curiosity
  3. Critical thinking – analysis, interpretation and open-mindedness
  4. Analysis – Forecasting, data interpreting and reporting

Job roles that require effective problem-solving skills include consultant, plumber and interior designer.

Adaptability

Adaptability is a soft skill that demonstrates a job candidate’s ability to adjust to changing circumstances in the workplace. An adaptable employee knows how to prioritize, motivate employees, keep clients satisfied and learn new technology. Examples of adaptability skills include:

  1. Flexibility – creative thinking, open mindedness and receptive
  2. Positivity – motivational, team player and goal oriented
  3. Patience – empathy, perseverance and cooperation
  4. Stress management – calm, relaxed and empathetic

Job roles that require effective adaptability skills are: sales, marketing and public relations.

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How do you feature soft skills in your resume?

When you are building your resume, it is important that you consider the presentation of your soft skills, and show hiring managers how effectively you can use them. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when considering which soft skills to list on your resume.

Research the job posting for key soft skills

The quickest way to determine which of your strongest skills to highlight on a resume is to look at the job posting of the role you are applying for. Employers write job descriptions based on the needed requirements to fill the position. Match your soft skills to those qualifications, so you can show hiring managers you’re the right candidate.

Many busy hiring managers also rely on applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan through resumes and find the most qualified applicants. The ATS software is programmed to find specific keywords throughout a resume in the form of skills, experience, education and more. If you target your soft skills for a resume to address the job posting, you will be more likely to be viewed as a potential candidate in ATS, and move on in the interview process.

As an example, here are soft skills you could mention for a customer service job posting:

Qualifications:

  • Positive thinker who provides excellent customer care
  • Excellent verbal communication
  • Ability to perform in a fast-paced environment
  • Working as part of a team to accomplish goals
  • Creative thinking to solve a variety of customer issues
  • Quick thinker and negotiator
  • Motivated for career advancement
  • Willingness to learn new responsibilities

Feature an impressive skills section

Your skills section needs to jump off the page and demand attention from the hiring manager. Putting emphasis on the soft skills that are most applicable to the job description will yield the best results. For the chronological and combination resume formats, create bulleted soft skills and hard skills lists for your skills section. For a functional resume that gives you more room to focus on your skills and education, separate your skills into categories relevant to your industry and provide short examples of your soft skills in action.

Here’s a skills section example from a teacher’s chronological resume:

Skills:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Time management skills
  • Observation
  • Active listening skills
  • Patience
  • Leadership skills
  • Subject matter expertise
  • Microsoft Word
  • Google Suite
  • Whiteboard management
  • Multitasking

And here’s a skills section example from a teacher’s resume in functional format:

Relevant Skills

Classroom curriculum

  • Utilized whiteboard technology to present lesson plans.
  • Documented academic progress charting for each child.
  • Developed learning initiatives to improve literacy skills.

Student management

  • Problem solved issues among 30 students to encourage collaboration.
  • Demonstrated calmness in emergency classroom situations.
  • Performed disciplinary action according to county guidelines.

Communication skills

  • Created a 30-family support group to nurture the development and learning of the students.
  • Assisted director in parent-school relationships with active listening to allow varying opinions.
  • Led development team to train staff for program advancement and new technology.

Present a dazzling work history section

When it comes to the work history section of your resume, don’t emphasize the mundane tasks you performed daily. Instead, highlight the most measurable accomplishments that make use of important soft skills of the job role. Remember to use action words (such as managed, collaborated and organized) to describe how you’ve used your skills. To show the impact of your skills in the workplace, use metrics that pertain to your role in the industry like the number of people managed, customers helped, articles written, students taught, dollar amounts and percentages.

Here’s a work experience example from a human resource coordinator’s resume:


Human Resources Coordinator June 2020 – October 2022 ABC Marketing, Camden, NJ

  • Conducted new employee orientation and assisted with the onboarding process.
  • Managed confidential information including harassment reports and leave of absence requests.
  • Timely maintenance of employee records and files in accordance with state and federal laws.
  • Reviewed 100+ incoming job candidate resumes weekly and qualified candidate referrals to staff.
  • Arranged 25 interview appointments weekly between interviewers and applicants.

Write a showstopper resume summary or objective

The resume summary or resume objective is located at the top of the resume just below your contact information. Both will be a 2-3 sentence paragraph summarizing your background and top qualifications. When should a summary for a resume be created? A resume summary is for job candidates that have held a few relevant jobs in the same industry as the new job. A resume objective is for entry-level job seekers or people changing careers. While a resume summary focuses on work history, a resume objective focuses on skills and goals rather than experience.

In your summary or objective, lead off the paragraph by mentioning one or two good soft skills.
You can gain the attention of the hiring manager and make a great first impression by featuring a required soft skill from the job posting.

Example of soft skills in a banker resume summary:

Focused banking professional delivers consistent, customer service and high-achieving results for a variety of financial tasks. Six years of experience in the banking industry with proven success in cash flow management, analytical thinking, creative investment portfolios, detailed reporting, problem solving and product upsell.

In this example, customer service and problem-solving are two soft skills mentioned in the summary — two skills that are crucial for the position.

Example of skills in a resume objective:

Talented graphic designer and college student, graduated magna sum laude in May 2022 with a BFA in graphic design. Awarded Dean’s list for eight consecutive semesters, with rewarding internship experience at Edgewater Magazine designing print and digital ads. Seeking graphic design position in digital or print publication with growth and training opportunities to enhance creativity, time management, collaboration and leadership skills.

This objective example packs in plenty of soft skills in the third sentence, emphasizing creativity, time management, collaboration and leadership. While the job seeker might not have professional experience, these soft skills tell employers that the candidate already has good attributes to succeed.

List certifications, training or awards that show you’ve mastered specific soft skills

The purpose of a resume is to show how you stand out from other job candidates so it helps to add a last section to your resume that highlights certifications, training or awards that enhance your skill set. While most soft skills like communication, adaptability and problem-solving can simply be improved through experience, some official training programs can help validate your skills. Many certifications are available online on LinkedIn, Coursera and Udemy that can document your soft skills.

Consider investing in training courses and other certifications to back up your resume soft skills:

  • Time management training
  • Public speaking skills training
  • Leadership training
  • Organization skills programs
  • Productivity improvement programs

One of the best ways to see how important soft skills are featured in a resume is to check out our ResumeHelp resume examples, which were expertly written for hundreds of jobs and industries.

How do you feature soft skills in a cover letter and job interview?

When you’re featuring skills in a cover letter or answering questions in a job interview, you are actually using your skills to make a great first impression. As you would when writing a resume, read the job description carefully to pick out the best skills to show you are the ideal candidate for the job. Find ways to tailor your own experience to the new job role and match your skills with the soft skills and hard skills that a potential employer is seeking. Don’t write your cover letter or answer questions at a job interview as a simple reiteration of your resume. Expand on the accomplishments from your resume, and make more connections between these achievements and how they fit the job you want.

Remember to:

  • Choose a few key skills and pieces of knowledge that make you the ideal candidate.
  • Relate how your skill set can benefit the employer with details about specific work you’ve done.
  • Highlight skills in a few sentences that will clearly stand out to the hiring manager.

When preparing for a job interview, ResumeHelp has a list of the most common behavioral interview questions in addition to the proven successful STAR interview method. STAR stands for: Situation, Task, Action and Result. The STAR method allows you to mention a specific situation, talk about the task you needed to perform, go over the action you took and highlight the accomplished result.

We also offer job seekers specially written, industry-specific cover letter examples to give you wording ideas for the role you are applying for. Short on time? Our Cover Letter Builder can help you craft a powerful cover letter in minutes.

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FAQ: Soft Skills

Have questions? We’re here to help.

Soft skills are character and personality traits like compassion, adaptability, communication, interpersonal, problem solving and work ethic. Think of soft skills as intangible skills and social skills that show how effective you will perform in a job and how well you will work with coworkers, clients, customers or patients.

Here are a few examples of soft skills in a resume:

  • Collaboration: This skill indicates that you’re adept at working with others, and pulling together with team members to complete assignments successfully.
  • Attention to detail: Whether it’s your job to compile accurate data, keep track of office employees’ schedules, or code a new app, a commitment to careful review and “getting things right” is useful for any job.
  • Communication: Being able to stay in contact with others and point out issues or challenges when necessary goes a long way to making sure projects are finished on time, and successfully.

All of these skills can simply be listed in the skills section of your resume, or mentioned in your summary (e.g., “Six years’ experience collaborating with development teams”) or work experience section (“Collaborated with development team to design and build five websites”).

Each job role and industry will emphasize different sets of soft skills to perform the job. If you work in the hospitality industry, for example, you’ll find that you need to demonstrate many communication-related soft skills with hotel guests, guest services team members, housekeeping, engineering and restaurant staff. You will be responsible for providing excellent customer service skills in a hectic work environment. Important soft skills in this case will be problem-solving, time management and patience. Always look over the job posting to determine which soft skills are best for the specific job.

While the modern work environment has been enhanced with technological advances and many jobs are now remote, soft skills still play an important role in job performance. Each industry requires job-specific skill sets; highlighting your soft skills and transferable skills in your job application shows hiring managers, recruiters and employers just what makes you unique. Hard skills can be learned, but soft skills are necessary to work well with others and be part of a successful, productive team.

Yes, it is highly advisable to list appropriate soft skills on your resume. Soft skills are your personality traits that will ensure you effectively stand out to recruiters. First, take a good look at the job ad and find out what are soft skills the employer is looking for in a job candidate. Be sure to match your resume skills with the skills mentioned in the job description. Besides just listing your strong soft skills, be sure you highlight the results of your efforts using soft skills

While soft skills are important to show that you will fit in well at a company, hard skills show that you have the technical aspects to perform the job successfully. You want to have a good mix of hard and soft skills throughout your resume. The job posting will provide a list of candidate requirements. Tailor your soft skills and hard skills to match those qualifications. If you lack some hard skills, take it as an incentive to get additional training, and focus on the skills you do have. When it comes to soft skills, give the prospective employer some work history examples that show you have the right skills to handle the work environment and achieve career success.

For every soft skill that you claim to have, you want to provide your soft skills examples in action. Add those examples to your resume summary and work history section in the form of job responsibilities and achievements. For example, if you claim to be detail oriented on your resume, be sure that your resume is free of misspellings and grammatical errors. If you need help featuring soft skills on your resume, use our Resume Builder and we’ll provide examples of soft skills to include in your resume.

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Donna Wright Profile
WRITTEN BY Donna Wright

Donna is a career expert with extensive experience in the fields of Marketing, Publishing, Direct Mail and Communications. She’s witnessed firsthand the importance of a powerful resume and cover letter to a job search, so she takes great pride in helping change the lives of job seekers by sharing expert career advice and tips to help land the perfect job.

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