Intelligent people can learn the technical skills they need to be successful at work. But individuals looking to climb the corporate ladder need superior soft skills too. Unfortunately, all too often people are promoted to leadership positions that lack the soft skills required to be successful.
In this article, we're going to talk about the concept of soft skills. We'll provide a definition of the term, as well as presenting some examples. We'll also talk about the difference between soft and hard skills. Finally, we'll explain how someone can use this information to enrich their resume.
While technical expertise is always appreciated, and something of value, moving up the ranks in the workplace means going beyond being recognized as a subject matter expert, or SME. Soft skills are often what separate individual contributors from managers and business leaders.
Soft skills are best defined as the wide variety of business skills that fall into one of the following three categories:
Each of these categories can be applied to almost any position in nearly every company. That's one of the reasons so many institutions of higher education offer students the opportunity to develop soft skills as part of their curriculum.
In the sections that follow, we're going to expand on this list of soft skills through both examples as well as explanations.
This first category of soft skills includes the ability to interact effectively with coworkers and clients. Examples of this category of skills include:
This second category of soft skills focuses on how a person conducts himself or herself at work. Examples of this category of skills include:
This last category of soft skills deals with one's ability to think critically, and solve problems at work. The ability to pull together data to solve a problem in the workplace is a widely-valued talent in a business setting.
One of the keys to being an effective problem solver is developing the solution to the problem in a reasonable timeframe. It is also important to be able to explain how the solution to a problem was solved in both a logical and systematic manner.
Perhaps the easiest way to differentiate between soft and hard skills can be described in this manner:
By now, it should be obvious why a company would value an employee with superior soft skills in addition to the technical expertise they're seeking. Individuals looking to move up or move out of an organization need to highlight these skills on their resumes if they want to separate themselves from the rest of the crowd.
Functional and combination style resumes both contain a careers skills / knowledge section, where a bulleted listing or table of the skills and knowledge appear. This section is placed near the beginning of the resume, so it's important to make sure it projects the right image of the applicant's talents.
The following demonstrates how this section of a resume can highlight a job applicant's soft skills. This particular example lists hard skills on the left hand side of the table and soft on the right:
|CAREER SKILLS / KNOWLEDGE|
About the Author - Understanding Soft Skills