Employers these days seem to value so called “soft skills” above all else. I’ve looked at a lot of CVs in the last few years, and it’s always a challenge to understand a job seeker’s soft skills based on a piece of paper. These are the elements I look for and effective ways I’ve seen that job seekers communicate these strengths.
1. Leadership Skills. A person with leadership skills shows responsibility, independence & critical thinking. A self-confessed team player without any leadership is often looked at as a “follower” or “hanger-on” by managers because he/she may lack initiative.
Quick Fix - Emphasize leadership roles in courses, volunteer activities, community service, and make sure you include the positive outcome of your leadership.
2. Project Management Skills. A person with project management skills means that they understand how to delegate, keep an eye on the big picture, and manage a team. Someone without these skills might blindly follow orders without understanding why and fail to make improvements when needed.
Quick Fix - Emphasize your experience managing a project (even on campus!) and the positive outcomes. If you don’t have experience, show courses you have taken in project management.
3. People Skills. People like other people with people skills! People lacking people skills have trouble communicating clearly with others, networking, and generally being liked.
Quick Fix - Emphasize how you relate to people through various activities, conferences and relevant events that you have been part of. For customer-interaction-focused jobs show how you have pulled teams together, managed customers, & managed vendors.
4. Communication Skills. Writing and public speaking are critical skills whether one is representing a company, talking to an authority, or managing conflicts. People who can’t communicate in a clear manner are easily misunderstood leading them to blame others for miscommunications.
Quick Fix - Understand your communication skills are reflected by how you write the email in which you send your CV, write & format your resume/CV, talk on the phone, & interview. The employer will look at all these factors.
5. Sales Skills. People with sales skills bring business to the company. These days, many employers expect basic sales skills from all employees. New business is the lifeblood of every business.
Quick Fix - Understand that “sales skills can be conveyed by how effectively you sell yourself to the job – by really demonstrating an interest and expertise, and also your past sales accomplishments ie. “Over-performed sales targets by 20% consecutively a Company X.”
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