The best soft skills for your resume in 2023
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If you want to land an interview, it’s important to find great soft skills for your resume.

Some job-seekers get so caught up in their other qualifications, like education, years of experience, and technical expertise, that they forget to highlight the soft skills that make them great to work with. Soft skills aren’t always flashy or eye-catching, but in the eyes of a hiring manager they can be the attributes that take you from being just a qualified candidate to a great coworker. Being great at your job isn’t always enough; you also have to be easy to work with.

To make sure your soft skills are clear, this guide will cover several aspects of writing great soft skills for resumes, including:

  • What are soft skills anyway?
  • What is the difference between soft skills and hard skills?
  • Why show off your soft skills in your resume?
  • Soft skills examples
  • How to show your soft skills in your resume

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the personal attributes that make you great to work with. They are the people skills, communication skills, management skills, and teamwork abilities that allow you to excel in a professional environment.

Soft skills, while less obvious than hard skills, are important. Employers are looking for workers who can work with a team, are comfortable in different situations, are able to manage and be managed, and take feedback well. A strong set of soft skills are useful in any industry.

Soft skills are sometimes natural abilities, like friendliness, extraversion, and listening skills, but they can be learned as well. Many professionals take courses in management, public speaking, communication, and more, in order to develop their soft skills and become better at their job.

What is the difference between soft skills and hard skills?

Soft skills are the personal attributes that contribute to your ability to work in a team and interact with other people. They are generally transferable skills that apply to any job, like communication skills or problem-solving skills. Even if you decide to change industries in the middle of your career and abandon what you went to school for, your soft skills will carry over and remain an asset in your new field.

Hard skills are the technical skills and abilities that are specific to a particular career or role. These will be the skills that you learned in school or in on-the-job training. They will require training and practice to master, and will vary widely depending on your specialization. Technical skills can be things like JavaScript, GIS, CAD, Illustrator, TIG welding, bookkeeping, information security, corporate law, proposal writing, and more.

The distinction between these two types of skills aren’t always obvious. Verbal communication, for example, is an important soft skill that can be transferred to any career, but it’s also a hard skill that can be taught in Communications bachelor’s degree programs and management training courses. Creating hard lines between soft skills and hard skills isn’t important, however (although many job-seekers do create separate Skills sections for both). The important thing to understand about soft skills is that they are an important part of your career skill set, and that your resume should make it clear what your strongest soft skills are.

Why do you need soft skills for your resume?

Your job is much more than just a discrete set of technical abilities, and your qualifications are much more than the knowledge you gained completing your bachelor’s degree. No matter where you work, your job will involve working with other people. In many cases, you will spend more time managing customers and coworkers than you will doing the actual “work” you went to school for.

Even if your actual job is something technical like welding, building websites, or designing buildings, for example, you will need soft skills if you want to manage clients, network with peers, hire employees, delegate tasks, receive and interpret feedback, communicate, negotiate, prioritize tasks, schedule events, meet deadlines, and more.

You will need the right soft skills if you want to do any of these things well.

Employers know this, and they will be looking for the right soft skills on your resume. Employers aren’t just looking for skilled craftspeople or technical experts, they are looking for people who will fit in with the company culture and be easy to work with. When they read your resume, they will be looking for glimpses of your personality, and an indication that you have the people skills required to get along in the modern workplace. This doesn’t mean that your soft skills are more important than the rest of your qualifications; it simply means that you should sprinkle aspects of your soft skills and personal attributes throughout the resume, so employers get a picture of what kind of an employee you will be.

How to show your soft skills on your resume

The simplest way to show soft skills in your resume is in a Skills section. This does not mean, however, that the soft skills in your resume must be limited to a skills section. Methods for showing soft skills in your resume include:

Listing soft skills in a bulleted list

The simplest Skills section is a bulleted list labeled Skills.

For many job seekers, this is enough. In the list of skills, you can list your hard skills and soft skills, beginning with the most important and most relevant skills at the top. For many people, there is no need to make a distinction between your technical capabilities and your people skills. Simply list them in order of importance in a single, easy-to-scan list.

Soft Skills For Resume: Competencies Bulleted List

If you feel that your soft skills deserve to be highlighted, you can create a separate section for your soft skills. This means that you will have two skills sections in your resume: one for hard skills, and one for soft skills. This can be useful if you are applying for a management position, or are in a career that demands high emotional intelligence, and you want to make sure your soft skills are made clear.

Soft skills section: Bulleted List

If you do this, feel free to experiment with the names of your skills sections. For example, you could name the two sections Core Competencies and Leadership Skills, or Technical Skills and Interpersonal Skills.

Showing soft skills in a skills-based resume

If you really want to emphasize soft skills, you can make your Skills section more prominent than just a simple bulleted list. To do this, make each skill or skill area a subheading of your Skills section, and add examples and descriptions of each skill underneath. This makes your Skills section much larger, and allows you to elaborate at exactly how you have used each skill. With VisualCV, you can even add skill strength ratings to each skill.

Strength Ratings in soft skills for resume section

Emphasizing skills in this way works great for a skills-based resume. In a skills-based resume, the Skills section is the largest and most important part of the resume, taking precedence over work experience or any other qualification. Skills-based resumes can work well for job seekers who want to highlight particular skills, especially transferable skills, when making a career change or applying for jobs following a long period of unemployment.

Soft skills based resume

Showing soft skills throughout your resume

The soft skills in your resume don’t have to be contained inside the Skills section. Another way to show soft skills in your resume is to scatter them throughout the resume, hidden within your experience and accomplishments.

As you write your resume, especially your Work Experience section, it’s important to focus on accomplishments. Many job seekers will write boring job descriptions when listing past positions, but employers are more interested in what you have achieved than what you were responsible for. If you have been successful in your career, working with team members, clients, or customers, your achievements should contain examples of your soft skills.

Soft skills for resume: work experience section

For example, if you write that you managed a team, spearheaded a project, or developed relationships with new clients, you can demonstrate that you have the leadership, management, and communication skills to work well with others and take on leadership responsibilities. These soft skills are exactly the kind of attributes employers are looking for.

How to identify soft skills for your resume

Brainstorming the right soft skills for resume success can be difficult. When it’s time to think of the right soft skills for your resume, try to come up with achievements from your career. This can include things like initiatives you led, presentations you made, reports you prepared, teams you managed, and more. Once you have come up with some accomplishments, try to think of what soft skills made those successes possible.

If you landed an important client, for example, think of the communication and salesmanship skills that were required. If you led a team to complete a project on time, think of the time management, organization, and leadership skills that were required. If you maintained high customer success scores, or received consistent positive survey reviews, think of the empathy, relationship-building, and persuasion skills that were required.

Coming up with soft skills can be difficult, but with a bit of brainstorming you can figure it out.

Examples of soft skills for your resume

  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Customer service
  • Scheduling
  • Prioritization
  • Organization
  • Goal setting
  • Independence
  • Collaboration
  • Teamwork
  • Written communication
  • Verbal communication
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Active listening
  • Public speaking
  • Presentations
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication
  • Reliability
  • Empathy
  • Punctuality
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Task delegation
  • Project planning
  • Decision making
  • Negotiation
  • Team building
  • Risk assessment
  • Flexibility
  • Goal setting
  • Mentoring
  • Negotiation
  • Flexibility
  • Patience
  • Analysis
  • Collaboration
  • Attention to detail
  • Note taking
  • Client management
  • Asking questions
  • Organization
Ben Temple

Written By

Ben Temple

Community Success Manager & CV Writing Expert

Ben is a writer, customer success manager and CV writing expert with over 5 years of experience helping job-seekers create their best careers. He believes in the importance of a great resume summary and the power of coffee.

See more posts from Ben Temple
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