How to make the most of your soft skills

Before we examine how mastering soft skills will help you in your job search, let’s discuss what a soft skill is and compare it with a hard skill.

Soft skills are often difficult to quantify, but often include stellar verbal and written communication, along with clear leadership abilities and analytical thinking skills. Hard skills are the technical skills and abilities you bring to a job – these are the skills you’ve learned either through education or experience.

Most employers value soft skills more than hard skills. The reason is that soft skills are directly responsible for facilitating human connections. This means that having soft skills will help you build relationships, gain visibility, and create more opportunities for advancement within your career.

As a job seeker, one of the most overlooked things you can do is work on your soft skills. Not only will having soft skills help once you’ve landed the job, but they’re also an invaluable asset while you’re searching and interviewing.

To best highlight and showcase your soft skills, take a look at the jobs for which you’re applying. Often, the descriptions themselves will offer clues on what kinds of soft skills the team is searching for, which helps prime your interview responses.

For example, if the job will require a lot of teamwork, that means that you should highlight your experience with leadership and team-building exercises. As a transitioning service member, this should be very easy for you to talk about since much of your time in the military was spent as part of a team.

Before you rush and send off your resume, make sure it has been fine-tuned appropriately for the job you’re seeking. That means adjusting language to suit the job description and finding ways to illustrate your soft skills as they’re relevant to the open posting.

The skills section of your resume doesn’t necessarily need to be as much about your technical skills as it does your ability to make decisions and work well with others. This is a simple trick that will help your resume get noticed.

First, check out the posting. Highlight all of the hard skills in one color and the soft skills in another. Make sure you don’t overlook skills that are disguised as “personality traits” like being persistent and self-motivated. Once you have your clearly defined list, think about instances in which you used these skills. Past work experience might be slim if you’re just entering the job field, but you probably have a lot of volunteer experience from your time in service. When you come up with a relevant example, make sure to record it on your resume using clear, concise language.

Then, once you’ve been asked to interview, spend some time thinking of new and different examples that might best illustrate your ability to both lead and be a team player. Not only will this help separate you from the rest of the candidates applying for the job, but it will also showcase your wide breadth of experience.

Once you’ve found a way to highlight these soft skills, you’re better positioned to make a splash in interviews, which might ultimately help lead to a job.

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