Employers are looking for soft skills. In fact, more and more are listing them as part of the job requirements for open roles. More than 6 million job listings included “communication skills,” 5.5 million included “customer service” and 5 million included “scheduling” as a requirement on jobsite ZipRecruiter in May.
“Even without looking at a specific job listing, we can probably imagine that every job is going to require the same set of soft skills: teamwork skills, communication skills, problem solving skills, time management skills,” says Gorick Ng, Harvard career adviser and author of “The Unspoken Rules.”
If you’re on the market for a job, “your resume is a really, really, really important platform for you to use to embody” these skills, says Octavia Goredema, career coach and author of “Prep Push, Pivot.”
Here’s how to illustrate soft skills on your resume, according to career experts.
Use descriptive titles
The anatomy of a resume features multiple facets. One of them is the various job titles under your “experience” section. These present an opportunity to convey some of your soft skills.
“The key here is to be truthful but also be descriptive,” says Ng.
“There’s a big difference between calling myself an intern and a social media intern,” he says as an example. “There’s a big difference between calling myself an analyst and a project manager, if I was, in fact, doing that. There’s a difference between me calling myself a manager and a communications manager.”
Each of these titles illustrates another facet of the job that proves you have certain experience. “Even just one word like ‘communications’ or ‘social media’ or ‘project’ or ‘product’ or ‘department’ can go a long way in giving people a mental image of what it is that you’re actually accountable for,” he says.
Think back on your work experience for each role you’re outlining and consider one or two additional and accurate words that describe what you did and what you can do.
Bullet points can give examples of your skills
Another piece of resume real estate that could be used to illustrate your soft skills are the bullets under each job title giving concrete examples of what you achieved. Each bullet could speak to a soft skill an employer specifically mentioned in the job description or one you think is relevant for the role.
Consider some of your accomplishments in previous roles, then, when writing these, “think about it being really a Mad Lib exercise consisting of impactful verbs, impactful nouns and impactful numbers,” says Ng.
Say you want to highlight your communication skills, for example, and you work in search engine optimization. One bullet could say something like, “I led a presentation to 30 of our clients outlining effective ways to use keywords, resulting in an average 30% increase in traffic for each of their websites.” “Led,” “increase” and “30%” are a verb, noun and number that give a visceral sense of the kind of impact you had on your company.
The bullet serves to highlight an impressive achievement. Inherently, because it takes strong communication skills to give a good presentation, and because your presentation was clearly successful in helping your clients grow their traffic, you’re proving you’re a good communicator.
“It’s almost implied that I would have had to have the skills to make this impact,” says Ng.
‘What language are you using to talk about work?’
When it comes to communication, specifically, the way your resume is written as a whole can go a long way to proving you’re a good communicator. “You want to be as concise and impactful as possible,” says Goredema.
“What language are you using to talk about work?” she says. “Is it repetitive? Is it flat? Is it really long convoluted sentences? Really take a look at how you are bringing your career to life on paper and how you’re communicating what you do best.”
A resume with strong work examples free of excessive language can show potential employers that, at the very least, you’ve honed your written skills, which are critical for multiple forms of day-to-day communication.
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