A guide to resume soft skills (definition and examples)
Updated 1 August 2023
Soft skills are an integral part of your skill set and allow you to contribute to a variety of work environments. These are transferrable skills like communication and leadership that aren't specific to a particular industry or role. If you're applying for jobs, knowing about soft skills and how to include them in your CV can help you get the job you want. In this article, we explain what soft skills are, discuss why resume soft skills are useful, list soft skills that employers consider important and describe how to include them in a CV with examples.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are transferable skills that are a good idea to include on your CV since they're typically beneficial to employers. A soft skill is a non-technical ability not specific to a particular role or industry, making it potentially useful for any job you get. A good example of a soft skill is communication. While everyone can communicate to some extent, good communicators can be much more effective in the workplace. Others include critical thinking, leadership and problem-solving.
They differ from hard skills in that hard skills are technical competencies typically specific to a particular task. An example of a hard skill is coding, which would have little use outside of roles that require coding or an understanding of it. A combination of hard and soft skills on your application documents can make them more appealing to recruitment managers or potential employers.
Why are resume soft skills important?
Soft skills are important on your CV because they enable you to stand out from other candidates for a job. For instance, the hard skills necessary for a role are often absolute or minimum requirements. This means that candidates the recruitment manager might consider likely have all, or most, of the necessary hard skills. Soft skills can help you stand out, as they're often nice-to-have abilities rather than must-haves.
For example, an advertisement for a job as a developer might include competency with certain programming languages and software applications as hard skills. While these are necessary for the role, being a good problem-solver can make you a more effective developer. Problem-solving skills would enable you to resolve issues during the development process and help you locate problems in code or functionality. Complementary skills would include attention to detail and patience. A recruitment manager considering a candidate with just the hard skills and another with additional soft skills is likely to favour the latter.
Soft skills employers value
Here's a list of soft skills that employers often value in candidates for a job, with lists of related skills or variants:
A key soft skill is communication, which can affect a significant portion of your work. Many workplaces are collaborative, making it useful to have good communicators. Communication is the ability to convey your thoughts to others accurately. This can be useful in many situations, such as handling customers or clients, making requests of colleagues, reporting to a supervisor, discussing new ideas and giving feedback. Good communicators are often more likely to discuss something rather than proceed without consulting anyone else. Regular workplace communication can therefore decrease the likelihood of redundant or repeated work. Related skills include:
mediation and arbitration
The ability to analyse is beneficial in almost any type of job. Analytical thinking allows you to comprehend something beyond its immediate appearance, enabling you to understand what it means and its implications. For example, analytical thinking is useful when you get a request from a supervisor to retrieve information. Thinking analytically allows you to determine whether you know where the information exists, who might have access to it, how much information is necessary for the issue in question and the best format for presenting it. Related skills include the following:
attention to detail
Analysis and problem-solving are complementary soft skills that can make you a valuable contributor to the workplace. Problem-solving benefits from an analytical approach and allows you to take effective action. To take the example of a request to retrieve information, you may discover that it doesn't currently exist. While you could tell your supervisor this, a better approach might be to find a solution. You might solve the problem by speaking to a data analyst colleague and asking them whether it's possible to get the data necessary and derive the information yourself. Here are some related abilities:
Leadership is slightly more limited in scope as it often doesn't apply to entry-level roles, although developing this skill is helpful for your career progression. Some entry-level roles may require it, such as graduate schemes for managers or junior project managers. Leadership is the ability to motivate others and get them to produce the necessary outputs. In its simplest form, leadership could be the informal mentoring or coaching of a new colleague. At its most advanced, leadership is a formal position at the head of an entire organisation. Leadership can also include:
Creativity is a soft skill that can positively impact almost all of your other skills, both hard and soft. It's somewhat related to analytical thinking but goes even further as it allows you to find novel solutions or ideas. Creativity could be visual, such as for roles like graphic design. It could also relate to ideas, such as finding solutions in the workplace. Creative individuals are able to generate ideas that are both new and useful, potentially making them valuable contributors to any workplace. Here are some related skills:
How to include soft skills on a CV
Here are some ways of including soft skills on your CV based on its different sections, with examples:
1. Professional summary
The first part of your CV is often the professional summary, where you give a brief overview of your abilities, experiences and professional goals. You can include soft skills here as part of your abilities or use them as adjectives to describe yourself. You could also combine them with primary aspects of the role in question or as a complement to a particular hard skill.
Example: Imaginative graphic designer with excellent attention to detail. Able to creatively use illustration and image editing software to produce novel ideas and designs that satisfy clients and help them build their brands. A good communicator who works well as part of a team or independently.
You can include your soft skills under your work history section to describe your ability to perform in different roles. Under each entry in this section, you can add details to give an overview of what you did. Adding soft skills to these descriptions can make them stand out and convey your abilities to a recruitment manager. A good way of doing this is by using adverbs or integrating them into a task or achievement.
Example: Found creative solutions to solve client problems. Led a team of analysts to produce informative reports. Analysed client complaints and devised innovative solutions. Regularly communicated with various departments to promote collaboration.
Related: 10 best skills to include on a CV
3. Skills section
Your CV's skills section is an opportunity to provide a comprehensive list of all your soft and hard skills. This is useful because there are some skills that you might not have been able to include in other parts of your CV, either because they were difficult to integrate or because you've recently acquired them. The skills section is typically a simple list, allowing you to add skills easily. Consider listing them horizontally to use the space on the page, with commas or vertical bars as separators.
Example: Communication | Leadership | Analysis | Problem-solving | Teamwork | Customer service | Active listening | Creativity | Time management
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