The current U.S. job market is a dynamic place. Demands for skills change constantly, requiring job seekers to update their resumes to highlight their abilities that fit the needs of the moment. Recently, more emphasis has been placed on soft skills, also known as “people skills,” in other words, skills that require a high level of emotional intelligence.
Here are some soft skills that are a great addition to a resume (and to a workplace) for most jobs of the current market:
1. Strong communication (both verbal and written)
Most careers require not only that you do your work, but also that you’re able to present what you do successfully to others. Whether it’s to your manager, your teammates, or potential clients, communication is key. Your communication should always be clear, concise, and compelling, whether in written form or spoken. Make sure you can comfortably talk or write about what you do. When dealing with clients, always appear confident when delivering your message. It will help you build trust. Having clear communication in the workplace helps to foster common understanding and expectations, and it allows you to accurately report back what you’ve contributed.
2. Ability to give and receive feedback
A specific and vital aspect of communication is the ability to both give and receive feedback. Oftentimes, people work for a long time without receiving any constructive criticism. They may discontinue certain good practices for want of positive affirmation, or worsen bad habits because no one has told them that what they’re doing is counter-productive. Meanwhile, frustration can grow, without ever being addressed, intensifying the problem. The ability to clearly give feedback (both positive and negative) to coworkers will help create a better working environment and allow you to work together more efficiently. Likewise, it’s important to cultivate the resilience to receive feedback – sometimes you may receive glowing praise, but on other occasions, people may ask you to change the way you work. Think of this feedback as an opportunity to consider new ideas and grow, rather than as a personal condemnation. The ability to give and receive feedback will help folks perfect the way they work together and allow people the opportunity to learn and grow as they go.
3. Conflict resolution and consensus building
The ability to work on a team is crucial in almost all industries. However, working with other people who have different ideas and different opinions can lead to conflict. Conflict itself is not inherently negative! It offers chances for folks to consider new ideas, challenge themselves, and grow. However, it is important that differences of opinion are not allowed to fester and cause ongoing anger, tension, or bitterness between colleagues. The ability to openly talk about conflict, facilitate difficult conversations between colleagues, help people feel heard, and find a way to reach consensus are crucial to strong team functioning.
4. Creativity and problem-solving
In your work, issues without clear answers will certainly arise. Managers and teammates love a person who always looks for creative solutions. Suggest new ideas for how to improve your work or solve a problem that is slowing things down – your suggestions may not all be accepted, but the fact that you took the time to look for solutions rather than complaining about problems will show that you are a real value added to the team. Being innovative will make you stand out.
While having a variety of hard or technical skills will serve anyone in their specific industry, soft skills are the best way to stand out as an asset in a working environment. Most resumes for any given job will have almost identical hard skills, it’s the interpersonal skills that make or break a workplace.
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