Soft Skills Are Important, But They Won’t Land You The Interview
By: Cheryl Schwartz, LCSW, CRC
For the vast majority of us, soft skills – the ability to work with a variety of people, a talent for listening, humor, etc. – are vital to our success on the job. In fact, most job descriptions list such skills as important factors.
When writing your resume, however, a list of soft skills is unlikely to get you in the door of your targeted employer.
Filling a position is a difficult task. To make it easier, most people in charge of hiring look for experience and tangible results. They choose from resumes that reflect the duties of the open job. So if you’ve never worked in marketing, even though you are great with people, you’re unlikely to get a call for a marketing opening.
There are exceptions to the rule. I know of a non-profit director who was offered a corporate communications job by a member of the non-profit’s board of directors. The communication department worked inside human resources at this corporation, and within a couple of years the former non-profit director was named the HR vice president.
His success illustrates the importance of networking – and of soft skills. Demonstrating your ability to work efficiently, follow direction and solve problems can create opportunities once you are employed, or as you employ your network.
And soft skills can help you get a new job once you land an interview. Employers are eager to hire people who will fit into their existing office culture. Unless you are being hired to completely change a department’s direction, your next boss will expect you to get along with, support, and complement the skills of existing employees.
The resume is your opportunity to secure an interview. Use the interview to not only reiterate your years of experience and achievements but also to demonstrate your soft skills.
Be yourself, but expect to engage in small talk before and after the formal interview takes place. Talk about the difficult co-workers you have won over, or the customer bomb you defused. Those are things that won’t win you points on a resume, but they will help convince potential employers that you can fit in at their organization.