A resume is a very tricky document to write. You have to include your concrete results and numbers, but also convey a lifetime’s worth of professional skills. The skills are considered “soft” (read: less quantifiable) data for employers, even though they’re highly important in hiring. So how do you finesse those to be more like the hard data?
To help you to navigate this, here are 5 commonly used soft skills and how to turn them into hard facts on your resume.
1. "I’m innovative."
This is a great word, and makes the writer sound oh-so ahead of the curve, right? Kudos to you for being forward-thinking, but the interviewer or hiring manager doesn’t know what you did to be groundbreaking. Make sure to provide examples of how you’ve innovated:
“I implemented a brand-new program for employee social media.” “Developed a software program to convert site visits into sales leads.”
Same goes for “visionary.” If you’re going to make that bold statement, you should absolutely be prepared to back it up with your visions.
2. "I’m creative."
This is a case where showing is definitely the key. Do you have visual examples of something creative you’ve done and can attach to the document? An example of a time when you found a unique solution to a problem?
3. "I’m an effective communicator."
This is one where you have to take a holistic approach… because if your overall resume is a mess, that will send a red flag to the hiring manager about your communication skills. In addition to providing specific examples of your communication (client outreach, interoffice email blasts, etc.), you should definitely make sure that your entire resume has a clear and concise vibe.
4. "I was responsible for…"
The easiest way to convert soft skills into hard data is to go through your resume and take out all the passive language. Be assertive! Use action verbs! It makes for a cleaner read, and lets you present specific numbers or examples without extra baggage for the reader to parse.
5. "I’m professional."
This one might be my favorite, and I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of abusing it back in my early job hunting days. One would hope that if you’re applying for a job, you’re professional. If you’re not professional, the hiring manager will likely figure that out pretty quickly; no amount of insistence on paper will change that. I’d leave this one out, and find a more specific adjective to show your awesomeness.
The attitude to keep in the back of your mind as you revise your resume should be “show me.” These skills can really put you over the top, so it’s important to be as specific as possible!
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