Soft skills (the cluster of personality traits, communication capabilities, personal habits, etc. that characterize your relationships with other people) should be treated no different than hard (or technical) skills on your resume. As such, don’t even think of them as skills…but as accomplishments. Because, as with hard skills, no employer will be impressed simply because you say you are a skilled communicator, writer, analyst, etc. What they need to know is what you have accomplished with those skills.
Practically speaking, if you want your target employer to know that you’re a good communicator (for example), why not write a bullet point (resume) or paragraph (cover letter) detailing a project wherein you used your communication skills to great effect? More specifically:
- What did you communicate?
- What communication tools or vehicles did you employ?
- To whom did you communicate your message?
- How many people read your communication? Is this number in line with expectations?
- Was the message well-received? Did your target audience react/respond as you wanted them to?
- Was your audience better informed or did they more skillfully perform some task as a result of having received your communication?
- What data can you use to support the above claims?
Providing your target employer with answers to these questions is how you prove to them your communication abilities. Simply writing “strong communicator” in the profile or skills section of your resume won’t cut it. As a matter of fact, listing soft skills without backing them up with concrete examples of how and when you used them may suggest to the savvy reader that you’re covering up for a lack of actual experience.
In a strong job market, soft skills magically become essential. In a softer market, though still attractive, they may be deemed second class next to technical skills. It is a mistake, however, to actively devalue your less tangible talents by failing to build accomplishment statements that feature them.