When a job seeker is considering applying to a job, their eyes usually wander straight to qualifications. In a way, this is self-screening, a way to make sure you’re not needlessly applying for a job you’re not qualified for. It’s a smart tactic, which can save you from a lot of wasted time. However, there are some qualifications that aren’t usually listed on the job description: soft skills. These are typically left off the job description, since they are assumed to be present. Just because they aren’t listed doesn’t mean they’re unimportant however. Quite the opposite! Soft skills can be a big deciding factor between a mediocre candidate and an outstanding one. We’ll break down what qualifies as a soft skill, and why they’re important below.
Hard vs. Soft Skills
To better understand what soft skills are, first we’ll compare them to ‘hard skills’. Hard skills are basically the qualifications we’ve discussed in the first paragraph. Hard skills are typically more technical, and equate to being proficient in a certain program, software, or having a specific type of certification. These skills are the ones you will typically see on paper. They are teachable and quantifiable. Soft skills on the other hand, are more intangible, and are acquired instead of taught.
A few simple examples of soft skills are communication, critical thinking, enthusiasm, and organization. Soft skills don’t usually correlate directly to the job, but they are integral to most positions. They largely cover how you interact with people, and the way you work. Soft skills will have a big influence on how you are perceived by others in the workplace, and this makes them especially important for the interview process.
Why Are They Important?
While soft skills aren’t something you see on the job description, they are incredibly important. Let’s look at a few examples. If you are applying for a job as a salesman, there may be some technical qualifications. They may want a candidate to be familiar with a CRM, like Salesforce, and be familiar with insurance. These qualifications are important. Also important though, is what’s not on the page. Since this salesperson will be interacting with people, they need to be personable and have strong communications skills. Even if they’re proficient on Salesforce, they can’t close a deal if they’re not good communicators.
The same could be said for tech support. All the technical knowledge in the world won’t help you if you’re not empathetic. Working in tech support requires understanding not only the problem the customer is having, but also how they feel about that problem. If you don’t understand the frustration of the customer, they may just get more upset on the phone. Although these soft skills aren’t listed, lack thereof could completely prevent someone from doing their job. So let’s operate under the assumption that you have the necessary soft skills for a position you are applying for. How do you indicate that to a hiring manager or interviewer?
Show Not Tell
One of the unique aspects about soft skills is they’re not typically represented on a resume, at least not literally. Resumes typically contain hard skills, and a breakdown of past positions and experiences. They may describe responsibilities that required those skills, but they aren’t listed directly. However, having a well formatted resume that is free of typos communicates two soft skills already. It illustrates strong writing and grammar skills, as well as a a strength in organization.
When it comes to soft skills, the best way to represent them is to show, not tell. In an interview, you will be discussing your hard skills, but you will be showcasing your soft skills. How you greet the interviewer, the way you handle yourself, and your general disposition are all indicators of your soft skills. This is important to keep in mind. You are being consistently evaluated for these types of skills throughout the process. Do your best to represent yourself properly and showcase those skills.
Now that we’ve fully discussed soft skills, we hope you can better market yourself as a candidate! While they may not be seen on paper, they’re still equally important! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and we’d be happy to answer.