CAREER COACHING TIP OF THE WEEK: Leveraging Soft Skills (Behaviors & Characteristics) in Job Search


Soft skills

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
  • Creative
  • Curious
  • Energetic
  • Adaptable
  • Initiative
  • Time Management
  • Strong Work Ethic; Loyalty and Dependability
  • Calm
  • Versatile
  • Diplomatic
  • Trustworthy
  • Dependable
  • Resourceful
  • Tenacious
  • Passionate
  • Intuitive

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.

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