When a resume is submitted for an open position, the applicant’s educational and career credentials are often screened by a recruiter, human resources manager or even a computer application.
If you do get invited for a first interview based on your qualifications, there are additional strategies you can use to stand out from the applicant pool — and these include highlighting your soft skills.
Soft skills, which include personality, leadership potential, ability to work in a group setting and communication skills, may play a deciding factor in whether you get invited for a second-round interview or are extended a job offer.
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Hiring managers are looking for these transferable skills and are interested in workers who are well-rounded and can ease into existing teams, according to HR professionals.
Soft skills allow workers to be ‘humans first’
One LinkedIn reply to a thread about soft skills said, “Soft skills are overlooked too often. Anyone or any company looking to grow and/or find their place in their respective market is wise to make developing these skills their main growth strategy.”
“I absolutely agree with the statement,” Watchen Nyanue, CEO with I Choose the Ladder, a career consulting company in Chicago, Illinois, told FOX Business.
“Soft skills allow you to connect with your colleagues and employees as humans first,” she said.
“Once someone feels seen and [that] you care about them as a person, they will work harder for you — and ultimately, for the company.”
Soft skills help people stand out from the pack
Emotional intelligence is just as important as IQ to most employers and hiring managers, according to David Bach, vice president of talent acquisition with DroneUp, a technology company in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
“There is no point in being the smartest person in the room if no one wants to listen to you,” said Bach, adding that companies are looking for “persuasive influencers” who are also “understanding and empathetic.”
Soft skills include various non-technical skills tied to leadership, interpersonal communication, adaptability, creativity and productivity.
With more roles and opportunities becoming hybrid and remote, both written and verbal communication skills are more important than ever, Bach added.
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This includes the ability to be an active listener and the patience to take the time to understand the bigger picture — while at the same time being able to clearly outline expectations and responsibilities, he also said.
Beyond strong communication skills, there is one soft skill that is valued highly by companies, according to Bach. That’s resourcefulness.
“We’re all being asked to do more with less,” said Bach. “If you have ideas to increase productivity while saving costs and not destroying morale, welcome aboard.”
Soft skills may be ‘challenging to master but worth it
One business leader recently wrote on LinkedIn that soft skills “may be more challenging to master,” but that “kindness, professionalism and empathy can take you far in your career.”
The post also stated that kindness is the real foundation to a good soft skillset — and is important both in business and in life.
“People generally don’t leave jobs because of money, schedule, commute, etc.,” Bach noted.
“They leave companies because of toxic work cultures,” he added. “Those cultures are created by leaders.”
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Bach continued, “Lead people the right way and they stay with you and will follow you. In my career, I’ve had the greatest satisfaction working under kind, professional and empathetic leaders.”
As a business leader, Bach offered this advice: “Always be kind, professional and empathetic.”
He added that some “may see those traits as a weakness and try to expose them” — which is why he advised being “firm in your approach, as well.”
He said, “While some people may try to take advantage of your kindness and empathy, don’t let it change how you treat people — but don’t let yourself be taken advantage of either.”
Companies seek candidates with soft skills – here’s why
Soft skills include various non-technical skills tied to leadership, interpersonal communication, adaptability, creativity and productivity, HR experts point out.
“These skills are arguably just as, if not more, important than hard or technical skills as they determine how you work independently and with others, how you manage tasks and teams, and how you communicate,” Ciara Harrington, the Austin, Texas-based chief people officer with Skillsoft, an online technology platform that offers transformative learning experiences based in New Hampshire, told FOX Business.
“There is no point in being the smartest person in the room if no one wants to listen to you.”
“As a candidate who possesses and can showcase both technical skills along with power skills, you appear to a hiring manager as a cohesive individual that is adaptable, flexible and willing to learn — something every employer values,” Harrington added.
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To leverage and showcase your soft skills, Harrington suggests that when applying for new roles, think carefully about how you will phrase your success in areas that require “hard” or technical skills.
“For example, when recapping past projects, you can highlight your teamwork and collaboration skills by swapping out ‘I’ with ‘we’ and emphasizing how you worked with others to achieve success,” she said.
Another example of using soft skills to increase your hiring chances would be to ask thought-provoking questions during interviews that showcase your preparation and planning skills, Harrington also said.
Also, ask questions that demonstrate your ability to communicate and think critically and show the hiring manager how you may “interact/work together” with others in the future, she continued.
“By doing this, your interest and passion for the role you’re applying for will also shine through to the hiring manager, increasing your chances of success,” Harrington said.
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