The power of soft skills: how to highlight yours

Team of young workers behind computer
Team of young workers behind computer while woman presents a powerpoint

You’ve probably stumbled upon the terms ‘hard skills’ and ‘soft skills’ all too often in the search for a new challenge in your career. Although the name might suggest otherwise, recruiters tend to shift their focus to the latter in recent years, as they say a lot about a person’s character. It seems that also leads to a pitfall: you can’t just pinpoint all your character traits, right?

To answer that question let’s explain the difference between the two first. Hard skills, or technical skills are job-specific and measurable, and every function has its own demands that fit a specific profile. Soft skills, however, are non-technical skills that are often referred to as ‘people skills’. They tend to be a lot more abstract and tell you more about how a person works, instead of what a person knows. Problem-solving, teamwork, and time management are just a few examples of traits that are considered to be soft skills. The difference between hard skills is that they tend to be less ‘manufacturable’.  An example of a candidate that possesses plenty of hard skills, but is lacking soft skills would be someone with all the credentials, degrees and whatnot, but is not able to function properly within a team due to a lack of empathy. That’s exactly why recruiters would never ignore these soft skills.

An adaptable and flexible employee

An employee that possesses a lot of soft skills is one of every employer’s greatest assets, but not just for being able to function properly within a team. Another major reason why they are so important is that these skills are transferable, which means that they are a utility regardless of the person’s function within a company. If an employee thinks it’s time for a new challenge internally, the soft skills he or she possesses can also be put to use within that new title. The power of soft skills is also backed by scientific evidence, that highlights them as predictors of job performance, career success and leadership potential, providing plenty of reasons why you should discover your own soft skill set. In order to do that you first need to know which ones you already possess and most importantly, how to highlight them.

Map out your skills

A very useful tool to map out what skills you already have and where there’s room for improvement is CareerAnalytics, where your profile will be scored on experience, education, hard skills and – you guessed it – your soft skills. The first thing you’ll notice is that there are probably a few gaps in your resume you can instantly improve to get a better rating on all aspects, including your soft skills. Once you’re aware of the soft skills that are already there, you might consider looking at ways to work on the rest. You can try coaching for example, which has proven to have very strong effects on an individual’s career success, and moderate-to-strong effects on performance. As long as you remember that no matter what soft skills you want to improve, it all starts with a crucial one: dedication.

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