Developing Your Career

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Making the Intangible Tangible: Handling Soft Skills in Your Resume

By Greg Simpson on September 2, 2014

Is your resume an accurate representation of your experience, skills and attitude? Does it tell a compelling story about who you are and the value you bring? Does it truly differentiate you from other job seekers? Remember, your career story is more than a list of duties and responsibilities. Your resume will really come to life when you weave in compelling examples of behaviors and results that quantify important intangible skills.

In a recent Careerealism.com article, 6 Intangible Skills That Can Get You Hired Today, Deborah Shane outlines the key “intangible” or soft skills that will add value to an organization – and make you more desirable to a hiring manager: adaptability, being a team player, leadership, open-mindedness, and positivity. While these are all great attributes that should be conveyed to a recruiter or hiring manager, how that’s done can either enhance or weaken your search efforts. Too often, soft skills are awkwardly woven into the candidate’s summary (“Multi-tasking team player who consistently demonstrates adaptability, leadership, open-mindedness and positivity”) and then it’s left for the reader to determine the validity of the claims.

The content of your resume should be quantifiable. Let actions and results tell your story. Beneath each job listing, include bullets that illustrate your accomplishments (three to six bullets for your most recent job; one to three for older positions). Use the SOAR model (situation, obstacle, action and results) to tell the story concisely and completely. For example, if you’ve said you’re “adaptable,” include an event where you spearheaded change or successfully adapted to a new process or format. Instead of merely saying you’re a “team player,” include an example of a time when you relied on your interpersonal and communication skills to gain consensus.

Overused, worn-out words tend to become meaningless, leaving you undifferentiated from everyone else vying for a position. Soft skills can give you the competitive advantage, but it’s up to you to make the intangible tangible.

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