Throughout our studies, we acquire a range of very important and useful technical/hard skills. And typically, these are the ones that we try to highlight in our CVs. More and more companies seek further differentiators when looking for their next best candidate, and place major importance on the candidate’s soft skills.
Soft skills are qualities that we develop throughout our lives, and are not job-specific. These are applicable in most (if not all) industries. Technical skills alone do not cut it. Take salespeople, who’s product knowledge is deep and tested. Their success rate will surely suffer if they do not have the necessary “touch” when convincing clients and closing deals.
Soft skills are closely associated with one’s character, and unlike hard skills, are generally more challenging to acquire and develop. Hard skills may look impressive in a CV, but the soft ones are what sets us apart from the multitude of applicants who possess similar professional and educational backgrounds. Students often arrive in the job market with limited work experience, and employers build on that with a new set of skills. Young graduates need to show that they have what it takes to learn these new competencies, and chances are that their soft skills will be the most visible ones.
In our modern work environments, we are putting more and more emphasis on skills such as communication, collaboration, empathy, listening, presentation. They all are key benefits setting one company apart from its competition. And as we evolve in an increasingly virtual world, where automation and artificial intelligence will slowly eat away at more hard-skills relying jobs, our ability to communicate effectively with clients and partners and colleagues will greatly influence customer’s choices and employability.
Soft skills are often transferable, and can be used across the board, in most fields. They are acquired thought life, at work, at home, through hobbies and interests. Each person possesses their unique set of transferable skills, and being able to clearly highlight them during an interview, on the CV, or cover letter will help convince an employer that you are a worthy candidate even though you may not have all the required work experience. Such skills include adaptability, leadership, confidence, emotional intelligence, time management, and delegation.
Including soft skills in your cover letter and CV:
You may want to look at these two documents as a representation or lose transcript of the talk you would hold with a recruiter. Use the job description as a guideline to identify those skills relevant to the role, and describe each one using facts and figures to demonstrate your competency, and how effectively you have used them. It is advisable to stay away from buzzwords and clichés as these are too vague and lose the reader’s interest.