How To Show Off Your Soft Skills in the Job Search

Here’s What To Include on Your Resume and in the Interview

Feb 14, 2020
Management

SMITH BRAIN TRUST  You’ve know you’ve got the experience and the education to take your career to the next step. But you want to impress your next employer with how well you work with others as well. How can you show off your soft skills?

It’s an important question, says Rachel Loock, a career and leadership coach at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Hiring managers want to know that you’ve got those skills. We asked Loock for some advice on how to flaunt your skills them off, every step of the way.

SBT: What can you do on a resume?

LOOCK: Describe your successes in leading, managing and influencing others--customers, co-workers, or other stakeholders. Tell your story using examples of how you’ve persuaded others in pursuit of a goal.

Be specific and don’t forget to include the end result. Perhaps you gained the buy-in of leadership in support of a proposal as a result of a strong presentation, negotiated a lucrative contract, resolved a conflict, or persuaded co-workers to consider another perspective. Reflect upon where your communication skills and understanding the needs of others were key to your most significant accomplishments and integrate those examples into your resume.

SBT: How can you demonstrate your soft skills during an interview?

LOOCK: Demonstrating soft skills starts the moment you enter the building. You want to be aware of your own emotions and those of others. Engage in a warm and enthusiastic way with those you come in contact with, including administrative staff, the HR representative, hiring managers and anyone else you meet. How you communicate with and treat others is being observed, and not just during the formal interview portion.

During the interview, making eye contact, actively listening, and smiling at appropriate times are all important. Smiling can also help to calm the nervousness that sometimes comes during an interview. You also want to be prepared to tell your story with examples demonstrating why you’re a fit for the role, in a concise and compelling way. In response to questions that begin, “Tell me about a time when...” choose an example that not only demonstrates your subject matter expertise, but also illustrates how you’ve used soft skills in different situations.

Be sure to read the interviewer’s body language and non-verbal cues. Strong listening skills during the interview will help you respond appropriately. Do they look interested, or are they distracted? Ask your interviewers questions, such as “Does that answer your question?” Or, “Would you like me to provide more detail, or another example?” Adjust your answers accordingly. As the interview is coming to a close, be sure to share an accomplishment that highlights your soft skills.

SBT: Are there other ways to draw attention to these skills?

LOOCK: Integrate your soft skills strengths in social media where appropriate, for example by highlighting soft skills you’re known for in the summary portion of your LinkedIn profile.

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Robert H. Smith School of Business
Map of Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland
Robert H. Smith School of Business
Van Munching Hall
College Park MD 20742