How to emphasize soft skills when applying for a job

What do employers expect most from job candidates today? Interpersonal skills, like strong communication and collaboration, top the list. As digital transformation and automation sweep virtually every industry, employers have fulfilled many entry-level technical tasks with software. Now they prioritize employees who can work well in teams, solve problems creatively, and multitask.

With the current labor shortage, employers are also thinking more about longevity and looking for employees who will grow with the business and eventually move into leadership positions to lead and mentor others, responsibilities that require a high level of interpersonal expertise. Some of these skills are more like personality traits, and others come from experience in different situations. The thing is, they can’t be easily taught, and not everyone has them. Candidates who do are in high demand.

If you’re looking for a new job and have strong soft skills, now’s the time to show them off. But how? Unlike hard skills, soft skills are difficult to measure and difficult to demonstrate in applications. Go beyond the words on your resume to highlight your soft skills with the following strategies:

Show your commitment to continuous improvement

You might not be able to demonstrate your soft skills on a resume, but you can list a certificate or credential that shows your commitment to maintaining those sharp skills. While employers are looking for candidates who can grow and evolve with the company, they will also appreciate seeing your desire to learn and improve.

Even if you are currently unemployed, you can sharpen your skills and learn new things. For example, Scrum and project management are two skills that require a high degree of collaboration and communication to ensure teams complete projects with maximum value. And online programs like Google’s Project Management Career Certificate can help you develop those skills in a convenient and affordable way.

Mapping user stories is another skill you can learn online that demonstrates great interpersonal expertise. Managers and staff use this process to study, understand, define and ultimately amplify the user experience of their products and services. It’s about understanding the customer, which requires a collaborative, communicative and empathetic approach.

Record yourself answering interview questions

A difficult but common occurrence in many interviews is to go on autopilot and answer each question as if you were reading it from a script. People get nervous, want to make sure they’re saying the right things, and don’t want to sound unprofessional. It’s natural behavior, but investigators won’t want to see it. Answering questions on autopilot mode can make you seem stiffer and more forced than how you would usually answer questions and interact with people in the work environment.

To make sure employers get a sense of your true personality and communication style, create an online portfolio with video footage of you answering common interview questions. At my company, a nonprofit that offers free tech skills, we’ve piloted software called Thumbraise to help students showcase their interpersonal skills to companies interviewing remotely. The software is free and users can create their own video presentations to send to potential employers and even use it as a networking tool.

Recording yourself answering interview questions is also a great way to practice getting out of autopilot mode for interviews. Lots of things you might not notice in the moment, like facial expressions and hand gestures, you can capture on video and even make sure you’re making a living and active connection with an employer while on the job. a meeting.

Tell your story with the “STAR” method

Because a resume or even a LinkedIn page with tons of work history and commitment cannot convey soft skills, job seekers need to be able to tell stories of their experiences that demonstrate how existing interpersonal expertise will transfer into their next role. We tell our students to use the STAR method when answering behavior-based interview questions to ensure they get the full breadth of their soft skills.

The STAR method is a storytelling approach that begins by discussing the context and challenges of a specific situation, the task or responsibility one was taking on in the situation or to overcome the challenge, the steps taken to cope to the situation and results. The most telling elements of the story will be action and results, so highlight how your soft skills, such as communication and teamwork, helped overcome a challenge and produce positive results . If you don’t have a lot of direct experience in the field you’re applying for, think about other situations or challenges (from previous work, volunteering, or even university experiences) that you’ve needed interpersonal skills to overcome.

Demonstrating soft skills in job hunting has never been an easy task, and with the current virtual nature of the world and the prevalence of remote interviewing, it’s harder than ever. But it’s also more important than ever, as employers seek candidates who can help their business grow and evolve into the future. Demonstrate your commitment to learning and growing, practice conveying your true personality, and tell a story that goes beyond your resume to stand out.


Jeff Mazur is the executive director of Launch code, a non-profit organization aiming to fill the tech talent gap by matching companies with trained people.

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