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How to Effectively Market Soft Skills on Your Resume

During a time when many of us have faced unexpected employment changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now more important than ever to successfully market hard and soft skills on your resume. Whether you are in the early stages of your career or are an experienced professional pivoting your career, how you demonstrate the possession of job skills on your resume can make all the difference in landing an interview.

How to Include Hard Skills on Your Resume

You’ve probably heard that employers look for candidates that possess both hard and soft skills. But what exactly is the difference between these types of skills?

Hard skills are teachable skills by which your proficiency can be measured, such as experience with software and equipment, the languages you speak, and other knowledge and abilities required to perform specific tasks related to your job. Some in-demand hard skills include data analysis, project management, coding and programming, technical writing, and social media content management.

When you’re developing your resume, incorporate hard skills into your experience descriptions to explain how you’ve used those skills. If you possess relevant certifications, include them on your resume to demonstrate you’ve put your hard skills to the test.

Your resume may even include a “skills” section to highlight the software and industry equipment that you have experience using. It is acceptable to include hard skills within a “skills” section because these abilities are objective — either you’ve used them or you haven’t.

How to Put Soft Skills on Your Resume

While hard skills are job-specific and are usually acquired through formal education and training, soft skills are the personality traits that make you a successful employee, regardless of your role. Soft skills are not typically listed on your resume the way hard skills are, as these qualities are more difficult to measure and evaluate. Since soft skills are subjective, it is best to show how you’ve used them as you’re describing your experience.

Don’t let the name “soft skills” fool you. Soft skills are important professional skills that can be even more valuable than technical abilities, and they are often more difficult to develop than hard skills. Some essential soft skills include leadership, creativity, communication, adaptability and collaboration.

Employees with soft skills create a positive, effective work environment. To learn the technical skills required for a position, you might need initial training, which can be expensive for employers. But if you possess valuable soft skills — like working well with others or problem solving — you may convince an employer that you’re worth the investment.

Crafting Resume Statements That Demonstrate Your Possession of Soft Skills

Don’t assume the employer will believe you possess specific soft skills simply because you list them on your resume. You’ll need to craft statements within your experience section to provide context for every skill listed on your resume in order to prove when, how and how often you’ve used those skills.

Once you’ve found a job announcement that interests you, carefully review the description to identify which skills the employer values in its candidates. Then, think of specific examples from your experience that demonstrate how you’ve used and developed those skills.

Be sure to consider all of your experience, including education, employment and volunteer work. If you’ve developed certain skills through your education or volunteer work, provide details in the education and volunteer sections of your resume.

To craft a concise statement for your resume, consider the following questions:

  • What tasks did you perform?
  • What tools, methods and skills did you use?
  • What were the results of your actions?

Here are some examples of resume statements that demonstrate your possession of common soft skills:

  • Creativity: Designed monthly email promoting published content and celebrating content contributors, increasing participation in content creation by 50% over a seven-month period.
  • Communication: Presented via Zoom to 25 members of the university’s Save the Earth Club on environmental changes impacting endangered species, contributing to chapter achieving platinum status and receiving additional funding in 2021.
  • Teamwork: Collaborated with Resources Coordinator to provide content for 12 infographics included in blogs and social media posts, diversifying the content produced and increasing reach.
  • Leadership: Mentored three fellow students through the university’s mentorship program and coached mentees on networking and professional skill development.

As you can see, it is possible to craft statements that highlight your soft skills, regardless of your experience level. By providing specific examples from your professional or personal experience, you are telling the employer where and when you applied these skills.

Remember that the resume itself is an example of your communication skills. Being able to articulate your soft skills alongside your accomplishments can impress potential employers.

Some Final Tips for Marketing Your Skills

Knowing how to incorporate your hard and soft skills on your resume is only part of the puzzle. There are other ways to successfully market your skills to employers.

First, remember to tailor your resume to the job description.You shouldn’t try to illustrate each and every skill you possess on your resume. Instead, use the job announcement to identify which skills the employer considers the most important and craft resume statements that match those skills.

Use numeric data to increase the impact of your statements. The previous examples of resume statements not only illustrate soft skills, but many of them also include measurable data that quantifies your achievements. While not all accomplishments are quantifiable, including data conveys the scope and impact of your actions.

Illustrate your skills on all fronts. While your resume is an important marketing tool, you’ll also want to demonstrate your skills through your cover letters, LinkedIn profile and interview responses. Marketing your skills across the board will help you stand out as a competitive candidate.

Use your skill sets as search terms for jobs. The hard and soft skills you possess may match a variety of job opportunities that you may not have previously considered. To broaden your search results and find opportunities that match your qualifications, search for jobs based on your skills.

Finally, get help from a university Career Coach. Identifying and effectively demonstrating your skills can be challenging. If you are a current university student or alumni, the Career Services team is here to help! We can:

  • Assist in identifying achievements that illustrate your skills
  • Review your resume, cover letter or LinkedIn profile  
  • Help you fine-tune interview responses that showcase your skills

Contact us today to get started!

Roxanne Ferreira has been a Career Coach at the university since June 2019 and has over nine years of experience in education. Prior to working for the university, she was a lead teacher at Ocean State Montessori School in East Providence, Rhode Island, and a teacher for Killingly Public Schools in Killingly, Connecticut. Roxanne has a B.A. in elementary education from Rhode Island College.

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