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The Importance of Emphasizing Your Soft Skills in Your Job Search

True or false: When applying to jobs and interviewing, it’s more important to highlight the technical skills you have to do the job, rather than your more intangible qualities and experiences that aren’t always apparent on paper.

If you answered true, you may want to reconsider.  Why?  The answer is simple –  as cultural fit becomes more important to organizations, employers are looking for employees who not only possess the skills needed to do well in the role, but also the soft skills necessary for evolving with the organization and moving the business forward.  If you need more proof, consider Facebook’s strongest hiring needs.  Contrary to popular belief, the majority of their needs lay in sales and business development; roles that require strong soft skills.

While strong technical skills are still and will always be very important, the ability to strategically showcase these soft skills in your resume and during your next interview may help you land the job:

Strong Communication Skills:

Whether you notice it or not, prospective employers will evaluate your ability to communicate with others during the entire application and job interview process.  While this may be more obvious for certain roles in creative/digital or nonprofit, for example, the ability to effectively communicate (in writing and verbally) with clients and across departments is a skill that employers in the information technology and accounting/finance industries are increasingly demanding in candidates.

As a result, it’s important to find places on your resume and opportunities during the interview to discuss your communication skills.  Think about a project, collaborative effort, or professional circumstance that clearly shows you possess excellent communication skills.  In the same regard, you must also be able to articulately explain why you are an excellent fit for the role to the interviewer.  If you can’t successfully do this, this may reflect negatively on your communication skills.

Project Management Skills:

Don’t worry; you don’t have to be a project manager to possess strong project management skills.  Employers are looking for new hires who can take ownership of their work and see a major goal or project through to completion, so if that sounds like something you have experience doing, you should not only say you have these skills, but also show you do.  Why?  Even if you’re not applying to a managerial level role, if the employer recognizes that you have strong project management skills, they may feel that you have more potential to manage expanding responsibilities and step up into future leadership opportunities.  Remember, employers are looking for new hires who will grow with the company.

On your resume and in an interview, elaborate on an example of an accomplishment that shows you had the autonomy and initiative to successfully manage a project.  If you can effectively prove this, the employer will also see that you have strong organization and time management skills, and perhaps the abilities to motivate and manage other people.

Problem Solving and Analytical Thinking Skills:

Having the capacity for critical thinking and analysis is inherently vital to performing well in any role, and may be needed for a variety of different situations.  As a result, employers are looking for someone who feels confident in their ability to assess and understand challenges, data, results (good or bad), etc. and proactively come up with a strategy to manage, resolve, or work around the issue. Therefore, when applying to jobs, make sure you can explain an applicable example of a time where you took the initiative to solve a challenge on your own.

Adaptability:

The abilities to adapt to changing business trends, evolving technology, and/or regulations affecting the way business is conducted are especially important today and are critical to an organization’s growth.  If employees can’t keep up with industry and tech advances, how can the business?  As a result, make sure your resume reflects your ability to adapt to change and learn new skills.  This will show employers that you have the drive to learn whatever you need to learn in order to move the business forward.

Leadership:

From entry-level to experienced applicants, the ability to lead is a quality that employers are looking for in all their candidates.  Why?  A majority of daily tasks that range from assigned work to overseeing a department require a sense of autonomy, and employers are looking for someone who can evaluate the work that needs to get done and take on these tasks without being told.  Make sure your resume includes it and that you can discuss any previous leadership experience, and if possible, how your leadership led to impactful results.

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