When looking for a job, you’ve probably come across opportunities requiring experience using certain types of abilities called hard skills. Hard skills are technical or administrative procedures related to an organization’s core business that are easy to observe, quantify, and measure. Like a dentist’s ability to fill a cavity or a carpenter’s aptitude for crafting a chair.
What are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are sets of interpersonal attributes that have to do with how people relate to each other: communicating, problem solving, listening, conflict resolution, giving feedback, and contributing in meetings. A secretary’s social ability to relate and take an active interest in visitors to an office is considered a soft skill.
Employers tend to put more emphasis on hard skills when describing a job, but soft skills play an important role in day-to-day operations and shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’ve just graduated from college and lack real world experience, are looking to switch careers, or are wanting to stand out from qualified applicants who share your skill set, you can bring attention to your soft skills on your résumé or interview.
You should have a list of hard skills and examples of what you’ve done with them from your education and previous work experience, but try to evaluate yourself and see what kind of interpersonal skills you have. Are you often in a leadership position? Have you produced good work when you were in a pinch? Do you know how to prioritize tasks and work on a number of different projects at once? Try listing your best qualities and adapt them to the job opportunities you are interested in.
Keep it Real
Think about specific examples of how you have used your soft skills. Just like hard skills, try to share how you used your soft skills to benefit a previous employer, school project, or group initiative. If possible, include any numeric data like money saved, teams managed, customers served, or people participated. Combining these examples with the accomplishment made from your technical skills will help you appear more well-rounded on your résumé and in interviews.
When you learn how to make soft skills work for you, they can go hand-in-hand with experience and hard skills to help you become more marketable and desirable to employers. What are some of your favorite soft skills and how have you used them to land a new job?