Understanding How to List Soft Skills

Soft skills can be an important part of your skills listing on your resume. What do you need to know about your soft skills?


Soft Skills

Unlike skills that are subject to certifications and qualifications, soft skills are intangible, non-technical skills, such as emotional intelligence and adaptability, which demonstrate how you approach work. Soft skills also determine how you interact with your team members and co-workers, which is increasingly important in a busy workplace. These skills can also be referred to as transferable skills, but not all transferable skills are soft skills. Examples of soft skills include but are not limited to:

  • Active listening
  • Problem-solving
  • Interpersonal skills (otherwise called “people skills”)
  • Time management
  • Conflict resolution and empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership skills
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility/adaptability
  • Public speaking

Though you may not find all of these top soft skills in every job description, carefully reading between the lines will reveal how important they are. If your job search uncovers a listing that calls for a friendly, reliable, and goal-oriented person, chances are they are looking for people skills, problem-solving, decision-making, and strong leadership skills in their candidates. In other words, soft skills.

What to Know About Soft Skills for Your Resume

When you are building your resume, it is important that you consider how you want to present your soft skills. Though answers will differ when it comes to asking which part of your resume is most important, your soft skills will stand out because they demonstrate how effectively you work. Here’s few things you should keep in mind when considering which soft skills to list on your resume:

List two to three of your best soft skills
Choose the skills that are most in line with your job search. If you are tailoring your resume for each application, choose the ones that best suit the job description. Supplementary skills may be beneficial, but hiring managers will want to know you are a good fit for the role before they consider what extras you can bring to the table.

Consider training courses and other certifications for soft skills
While traditional soft skills like communication, conflict resolution, and problem-solving have not always been certifiable, there are now certifications that can act as documentation of soft skills. For example, there are leadership skills programs that come with certifications that can be used to back up those skills. There are even some general soft skills certifications available, but not all of these are recognized by large employers. As such, be sure to do your research before paying for courses like these.

Soft skills are important, but you need to be able to back them up
Anyone can claim to have good problem-solving or leadership skills. This is why many hiring managers will ask behavioral questions to see if you have examples of your hard and soft skills in action. Therefore, it is good practice to take the time to think of a few examples for each of your soft skills in action, and add them to your work history section, whether they’re responsibilities or achievements.

As you can see, less is often more when it comes to soft skills, and putting emphasis on the ones that are most applicable to the job description will get the best results. This will be particularly effective if you have examples of those skills in action.

How to List Soft Skills Effectively

As a job seeker, it is important to know how to effectively include soft skills in your resume. First and foremost, there are some soft skills that can be displayed through your resume itself. For example, a coherent, well-structured resume and cover letter that address the main points of the job description show critical thinking and communication skills. Likewise, you can display interpersonal skills while answering interview questions. Here’s what you need to know about listing soft skills on your resume.

Choose unusual or specific soft skills
There are some soft skills that recruiters will simply expect qualified candidates to have. Good time management and communication skills, for example, are expected in most roles. More unusual or specific skills, like public speaking, project management, or negotiation, may be of interest and should be listed when applicable.

Provide examples
Your resume should inspire trust in recruiters, so providing short examples of your soft skills in action can be helpful. For example, to show your public speaking and presentation skills, you could list “Conducted three performance review presentations with corporate audiences” in your work history section.

Use active language
Rather than noting that you were “responsible for” team leadership or increasing efficiency, use active language. Draw attention to what you have “achieved,” “developed,” or “implemented” and be sure to highlight the results of your efforts. Just look through our resume examples to see how it’s done.

Display the skills you claim to have
One of the most common mistakes job seekers make is to fail to represent the skills they claim to have. For example, if you claim to be detail-oriented on your resume, it will look even worse if you have spelling errors. Likewise, if you claim to have a strong work ethic, it will look strange if you don’t include a cover letter and send a follow-up email.

If you follow this simple advice, you should have a resume that effectively communicates your soft skills as well as your hard skills and education. If you are having trouble creating your resume, you can always use ResumeHelp’s resume-building tool, and we’ll provide job-specific skills suggestions to include in your resume.

FAQ: Soft Skills

Q: How helpful are soft skills in the modern job world?

The modern work environment is saturated with diverse skill sets and experience levels; your soft skills are part of what makes you unique. This means soft skills are very important, especially if you are looking for work in a competitive market.

Q: Do I need to list soft skills on my resume?

Yes, it is highly advisable to list appropriate soft skills and personality traits on your resume to ensure you stand out to recruiters as much as possible.

Q: How should I balance soft and hard skills on my resume?

While soft skills are important, hard skills should still be your main focus. View your hard skills as the meat of your resume, so to speak, and your soft skills as supplementary. Recruiters may be more inclined to hire you if you have good soft skills, but if you lack the required hard skills, you will have little chance of success.

Q: What can I do to back up my soft skills?

If there are no certifications for the soft skills you list, or you do not have the appropriate certification, you can support your claims by listing personal achievements and awards that showcase those skills. For example, if you cite a strong work ethic or good communication skills, listing language night classes or freelance credits can support these skills, as it shows a willingness to sacrifice free time to achieve self-improvement or meet goals.

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