Jobseekers: stop listing soft skills on your resumé. Here’s why.

Adam Jasnikowski

Stop Listing Soft Skills (2)

​Well, 2020 – what a year you’ve been so far. My own recruitment career began back in 2010 – another somewhat dicey year for businesses across the UK (where I was living at the time) – and, ten years on, I can confidently say that this is the most broadly talent-rich candidate marketplace I’ve yet had the pleasure of working. It may not be thanks to ideal circumstances, far from it, but as a recruiter it’s fascinating, if not of course a little concerning to see such a swing from the strongly candidate-driven market we were experiencing back in January of this year.

When the market is full of incredible talent like it is today, things get a little bit trickier for you jobseekers. Competition is always high but, with so many highly-qualified individuals actually seeking work actively, getting your resumé to the top of the pile can pose a challenge.

Resumé writing is tricky – it’s difficult enough to write about yourself, let alone trying to explain what you do effectively within that highly-touted 2-page limit. For me, the key thing to remember is, as we’ve said before, your resumé is a sales document. When selling in general, you don’t sit and simply tell the prospect why you’re so great – you’re trying to answer two questions: what is it going to do for them, and how is it going to benefit them?

With that in mind, and an unprecedented number of resumés to scan every day, my biggest tip would be this: stop listing soft skills.

Why?

Because space on your resumé is precious. Because those skills are going to be listed on every other resumé. Because those skills are almost entirely non-tangible, meaning there’s no way to measure them – you could effectively list whatever you wanted to. Because those skills aren’t something you can become certified in; they’re to be learned and honed over time through experience.

Let’s think about hard skills for a second – C++, UI design, a foreign language, what have you. If the job advert calls for these skills, it’s because the role requires them – these are things you need to know, and could be used to promptly qualify candidates in or out on paper.

Communication, however, can’t be examined until interview stage. Just writing it on your resumé isn’t enough for the person reading to understand whether you possess skills in communication, and if so to what degree. Listing it alongside teamwork, leadership and time management doesn’t help. And this whole exercise is taking up valuable space on those two all-important pieces of A4.

So, what should you do instead?

Tell the reader a story.

Use the employment history and experience section of your resumé to demonstrate those soft skills. Give clear examples in each piece of employment where you were able to show those skills, the circumstances under which they were important, what benefit they brought your current employer – and, as such, the benefit they’ll provide to your next.

Here are some examples of what I’m getting at.

Instead of this:

  • Communication

  • Teamwork

  • Leadership

  • Problem solving

  • Conflict resolution

  • Creativity

Try something more along the lines of this:

  • Responsible for explaining niche deal components in a succinct manner to ensure ideas are communicated properly and aims are aligned

  • Working closely with multiple decision makers, colleagues and external partners to see projects through to completion

  • Leading a high-performing team of 5 SDRs to achieve a target of $Xm per annum (achieved 112% FY19)

  • Conducting thorough research to identify and overcome challenges which may arise throughout

  • Resolving any issues between staff members through active listening and promoting an open line of communication at all times

  • Successfully designed multiple ad campaigns throughout the year, exercising creativity to come up with fresh concepts and innovative angles on an ongoing basis

This way, that one line you’ve used to merely list your skill has turned into a real-life example; I think they call that two birds, one stone.

So, to go back to my original point: stop listing soft skills on your resumé – instead, prove them at the same time. Make them tangible, believable. It might just set you apart from the crowd.

Take a look at the roles we have live here in Oz via our jobs page, which is constantly being updated with positions we’re working on for our clients. And, if you do happen to apply for one, don’t let me down – I can’t wait to see your beautiful, story-telling resumé in my inbox.