CAREER COACHING TIP OF THE WEEK: Leveraging Soft Skills (Behaviors & Characteristics) in Job Search
Our clients’ soft skills (behaviors and characteristics, those things that are peculiar, distinctive or typical to a person) can often be useful in resume development and interviewing.
Hard/technical skills can often be taught, but soft skills (natural talents, behaviors and personality traits) are often useful on-the-job and can make or break an interview.
A list of soft skills might include
- Attention to Detail
- Relationships and Rapport Building
- Accountability; a Trusted Resource
- Positive Attitude
- Team Player
- Time Management
- Strong Work Ethic; Loyalty and Dependability
Alone, these soft skills appear to be “buzz” or keywords without much value or meaning.
However, when woven into accomplishment stories, these soft skills can be useful and telling:
- Attention to Detail: Double-checked the inventory, identifying a $6,000 discrepancy.
- Trustworthy: Entrusted to collect $750K in daily receipts (credit cards, cash, and checks), and deposit at the bank.
- Time Management: Kept all assigned projects on-time and under budget, saving the company $120,000 in FY16 by controlling man-hours.
One of the questions I almost always ask my career coaching clients is: “If you are in a final interview, and you are asked – ‘What is your greatest skill or why should I hire you?’” most often, they will provide a response that includes a soft skill:
“I am a people person.”
“I am a team player.”
“I am detail oriented.”
“I am a self-starter.”
“I will help you be successful.”
And, they rarely provide a response to back up the claim.
So, I coach my clients to develop accomplishment stories that validate the value they bring to a potential employer to support their soft skill claims.
Many employers will hire for personality and a positive attitude in the end – so soft skills are important – but they need a justification. Hiring authorities hire for value in the end.