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The Soft Skills Employers Are Looking For and How to Highlight Them

Bonny Calfy | December 13, 2016

You go to school to build your knowledge base. But, the hard skills you bring to the table as a result are just one part of the whole package in which employers are interested. Soft skills – those you were born with, developed and gained throughout the years – are important, too. So much so, they can be what make the difference between a résumé archival and a job offer.

Soft Skills Are Important

Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center concludes that 85 percent of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills and people skills, while only 15 percent of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge; otherwise known as “hard skills.”

So, while universities tend to focus on technical skill requirements, the truth is employers realize the social skills of an employee are incredibly valuable. A Career Builder survey shows that 77 percent of employers think personality skills are equally as important as hard skills, and 16 percent find them more important. This becomes evident when you realize how much learning actually is done on the job.

The Skills Recruiters Are Looking For

Soft skills can be indicative of an employee’s ability to solve complex problems, commit to the organization and grow into a leader. According to a Career Builder survey, among the top 10 soft skills employers seek work ethic (73 percent), dependability (73 percent) and a positive attitude (72 percent) were the top three. Additional research by Adecco Staffing reveals that soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration also are in short supply.

According to LinkedIn Chief Economist Guy Berger, leadership is important and management is in short supply, but teamwork and communication matter the most. That’s what the employer is demanding the most.

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Strengthen Your Résumé with Soft Skills

Including soft skills in your résumé will help push yours to the top of the pile. Recruiters and applicant tracking software (ATS) both can be programmed to look for these skills. Soft skills, especially ones that match the job description will rank you higher in the HR department’s ATS.

The trick to highlighting soft skills on your résumé is to present them as accomplishments, according to Idealist Careers. This method ties your soft skills to a quantifiable work situation. Adding in a numerical results shows the impact soft skills have on the company’s bottom line. See examples below:

  • Soft skill: Communication

Example: Managed strict project timeline successfully by coordinating virtual meeting across time zones and presenting findings to over 50 colleagues via teleconference.

  • Soft skill: Leadership

Example: Developed and independently initiated new mentorship program to alleviate high turnover of new staff members, resulting in the matching of 23 mentor-mentee pairs and a significant reduction in staff turnover.

  • Soft skill: Creativity

Example: Invented a workflow process for a bulky and disorganized ad-marketing procedure which reduced time to implement by 30 percent.

Win the Job

Presenting yourself as a qualified candidate doesn’t always mean possessing 100 percent of the experience the job posting details. Recruiters are looking for you. Help them find you by highlighting the unique characteristics you possess, whether it be in innovation, work ethic, creativity, communication or any other soft skill.

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s employer brand supervisor, Bonny Calfy oversees all recruitment marketing and employer brand efforts nationwide. Her brand awareness efforts extend over 10 years and have included launching the Paycom Careers blog and social media channels and producing recruitment videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside work, Bonny enjoys reading; fishing; and spending time with her husband, children and friends.