How to highlight soft skills in your CV

What are soft skills?

In a nutshell, soft skills refer to the intangible qualities of employees and candidates that can’t simply be recorded as part of accumulated job experience or as part of a training programme or course.

By hiring the most experienced applicant for a job role, employers miss the potential power of soft skills and what they can bring to a business. Although a CV can appear strong, the successful applicant may lack the skills necessary to thrive in their job role.

While hard skills like qualifications and previous experience are easy to spot on a CV, soft skills aren’t, and this is why many strong candidates can ultimately struggle in new roles.

Although hard skills can refer to technical excellence in areas like mathematics, fluency in language, computer literacy, and reading comprehension, soft skills are growing in demand at a significant rate.

These soft skills refer to more personality-based competencies like your ability to communicate effectively, to work competently in teams, to demonstrate leadership, and to possess a conducive work ethic.

Crucially, soft skills are less quantifiable. Therefore it’s absolutely essential that anybody on a job hunt communicates them clearly to prospective employers.

What’s more, they’re becoming far more sought after as businesses seek to build skilled collaborative teams both in-house and on a remote basis.

Traditionally, only hard skills have been valued by employers. But soft skills are no longer an afterthought for forward-thinking firms.

Why are soft skills important?

So we know what soft skills are, but why have they become so popular for recruiters in recent years? The answer is that they have the potential to show precisely how an applicant can fit into a team and a wider company culture.

For employers, these skills are important for identifying many intangible qualities of their recruits. Soft skills hold plenty of value when it comes to recruiting the right talent, and can point to many cultural benefits that can be brought to a company.

Teamwork: Good teamwork skills indicate that candidates are strong collaborators and are willing to work alongside others to achieve their goals. By recruiting somebody who has teamwork skills, employers know they’re hiring somebody who can both listen and delegate.

Loyalty: Having a high turnover of staff is a leading and costly concern for employers. For this reason, loyalty is an intangible skill that can make a significant difference when it comes to deciding between multiple candidates.

Relationship building: Having staff members who build and maintain strong relationships with one another is a massive asset to businesses. This means that employees will be more comfortable in communicating with one another and will collaborate more effectively.

Leadership: An employee who’s happy to take instruction is one thing. Having a leader on board who can quickly identify and rectify problems in groups can help to deliver better crisis-management.

Delivering growth: Ambitious and determined hires are in demand because they help the business grow. They are also willing to grow alongside the company, taking on more challenges and continually testing themselves.

Being organised: Employees who are capable of time management and consistently meeting deadlines can help businesses to stay organised, particularly in time-intensive sectors. They can also bring this soft skill to their communications with their colleagues, helping to run an efficient team.

These soft skills are imperative for the growth and sustainability of businesses in virtually every industry. As such, it’s vital that candidates work to make their intangible qualities as visible as possible for employers.

However, this challenge is easier said than done, particularly as traditional CVs lean heavily towards experience-based competencies. So how can applicants help to get their soft skills noticed?

Let’s take a look at some key ways to boost soft skill visibility.

How to make your soft skills visible to employers

Visibility is a key word when it comes to sharing soft skills with prospective employers. CVs tend to focus on experience, but it’s crucial to list relevant soft skills.

There’s a growing demand for intangible skills. Candidates should think about how to include them in an engaging way on their CV. Rather than including them as a secondary section, they need to command attention.

With this in mind, it’s essential that soft skills are listed and accompanied by real-world examples, to show how they’ve benefited a company, organisation, or educational course.

One way to include them, is to format the CV in two columns with hard skills on one side and soft on the other, giving them an equal level of attention.

Each soft skill can then be listed along with an example of how this skill was demonstrated. Extra-curricular interests and hobbies, especially relating to team-based games or sports, can showcase soft skills.

Because it can be difficult to encapsulate soft skills within a CV, it might be worth building an online presence. This can help showcase portfolios and highlight experience. It also promotes intangible qualities on a larger platform.

Through shared hosting, it’s possible to create a low-cost website that can support a vast array of information and examples to support soft skills. This approach can also be far more eye-catching to recruiters–without having to cram more information into a CV.

This example-driven approach must also shine through throughout the interview process. By listing your soft skills and supporting them with evidence, you can use interviewer questions as prompts to share your skills in a natural way.

Never stop polishing your soft skills

No one should ever feel as though they’re lacking in soft skills. It just takes focus, repetition, and determination to master many of them.

To polish communication skills, it’s worth looking at different approaches to talking to friends and family. For largely remote positions, this could involve becoming adept at making more video calls in social settings.

Thanks to the internet age, collaborative skills can be boosted from home, too. While team sports are excellent ways to improve teamwork, this soft skill can be boosted through team-based video games or board games.

Even picking up a good old-fashioned jigsaw puzzle can be a great way to build on problem-solving skills. And if you find it hard to assess your own skills, it can be worth asking friends and colleagues.

It can be daunting to be scrutinised for intangible skills. However, it’s essential for ensuring that companies find the right fit for their teams. Soft skills also allow employees more opportunity to express their individuality and fit for a prospective role.

Making soft skills more visible can therefore be an excellent way to stand out from the crowd.