While technical skills are essential for landing your ideal tech job, soft skills also play an important role. When communicating and collaborating with your teammates, your technical skills often take a back seat to the interpersonal and critical thinking abilities you need to develop and present solutions.
Making sure these skills come across during the hiring process can be tricky — but we're here to help. Read on to learn how to showcase your soft skills on your resume and display them during an interview.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are those you use to perform the less technical responsibilities related to your role, like communicating, collaborating, and solving complex problems. Without them, you'd be almost like a robot — capable of performing tasks but not necessarily good at presenting ideas, learning from others, or thinking outside of the box. That's why it's important to highlight your soft skills during the hiring process.
How to convey soft skills on your resume
Even though descriptions of your technical skills are necessary on your resume, it's just as important to convey your soft skills, and this may be easier than you think. One key method is to choose the right verbs while describing what you've done at previous jobs or during any training courses you've taken.
These verbs can go at the beginning of bullet-pointed descriptions of your past roles. For example, you could say, "Collaborated with other members of the DevOps team to address end-user concerns regarding network throughput."
The following verbs all convey the ability to work with, listen, and learn from others:
You could also use the following to convey your ability to manage your day-to-day responsibilities:
Lastly, these verbs emphasize your problem-solving skills:
Along with using the right verbs, you can also highlight experiences and hobbies that show your human side. These can include volunteering with youth, seniors, or other communities.
How to showcase your soft skills during an interview
The best way to highlight your soft skills during an interview is to illustrate them during your interactions with the recruiter. Below, we'll show you how to showcase your soft skills while listening to your interviewer and answering their questions.
Illustrating soft skills while answering interview questions
It's not always easy to talk about yourself, but this is the time to do it. As you answer questions about your soft skills, instead of explaining what you're good at, use examples.
For instance, you could say, "I feel my problem-solving skills were really put to the test when we had to deal with an unexpected outage in our data center." Then, go on to describe what happened and how you came up with a solution.
Remember that communication is many employers' most valued soft skill, so be sure you communicate clearly. When answering a question, try to give a concise reply. If you feel nervous, feel free to pause between sentences before continuing. This will both help you calm down and give your interviewer the chance to understand what you're saying.
Illustrating soft skills while listening to your interviewer
Listening is perhaps the most important soft skill because it simultaneously shows respect and that you value gaining knowledge from sources other than yourself. A good listener is a great teammate and an excellent problem-solver. To show that you're a good listener, you can do the following while the hiring manager is asking you questions:
- Make eye contact. Try to hold it for at least a few seconds. If it starts to feel awkward, you can look to the side for a moment before resuming.
- If your recruiter says something interesting, show that you understand the weight of their words by nodding or thoughtfully furrowing your brow — while still maintaining a pleasant look on your face.
- If they ask about something that involves a serious challenge, try to match their expression. At times, they may smile through a description of an uncomfortable challenge or to break the awkwardness of a personal question. You should still acknowledge the gravity of the situation with a thoughtful look.
- Avoid the tendency to only think about what to say next. It's better to spend time listening to the question and then politely say, "Okay, that's a lot to think about. Hmmm…" Then you can invest your energy in listening well first and providing a solid answer later.
With the tips listed above, you'll better be able to illustrate your soft skills in your resume and during the interview process. Still, some interviewers will want to hear more about your hard skills — especially in the tech industry, where technical interviews are commonplace.
If you need help preparing for technical interviews, check out any of the courses below: