You might have been revising your resume repeatedly, unsure about the necessity for including soft skills. Perhaps it feels like a waste of space on an A4 paper where you got to fit in your best self. Yet, in an increasingly creative and innovative marketplace, soft skills, like an individual's character, personality traits, and interpersonal skills, have become as significant as job-specific skills. Companies in 2023 need to know that you can effectively communicate in a diverse work environment, react well to challenges, and keep an open mind. Soft skills are in high demand in today's job market, and employers will look for them keenly in every potential employee. So yes, you should leave room for soft skills in your resume.
Acquiring and adding top soft skills to your resume can help you raise your chances of landing a suitable job and give you the skillfulness to work well within the team, deal with obstacles and find creative solutions. Read further as we explore the top soft skills in resume and provide actionable tips on how you can acquire them.
List of Top Soft Skills
Social Soft Skills
- Teamwork: your ability to work in a team through collaboration and cooperation. Companies need to know that you can be a team player.
- Active listening: entails listening attentively and retaining information, after which you can respond and reflect accordingly. Employers need to see that you can connect with people, internal (employees) or external (clients) people.
- Empathy: a capability to grasp and understand other people's feelings and thoughts is a significant soft skill as it helps build rapport and, maybe, even solve conflicts.
- Self-awareness: knowing and understanding oneself, including your strong and weak points. Companies look for strong candidates who can embrace and tap into their strengths while recognising and working on their weaknesses.
- Self-motivation: showing enthusiasm and being proactive. Your employer desires to see that you are committed to your work and highly enthusiastic about contributing to the company's success.
- Self-regulation: being able to control yourself by managing your behaviours and reactions. Difficulties may arise in any field of work, and companies want employees that can keep calm in stressful situations to solve issues.
- Flexibility: the skill to learn and think quickly as well as manage to adapt to changing circumstances. The world is ever-changing, and companies need to react accordingly. Thus, your employer wants to know you can adapt to their workplace and constantly respond to changes to develop and grow.
- Resilience: the ability to not give up when faced with difficult situations and failures. It's crucial to showcase that you're willing to learn from mistakes, as it is inevitable.
- Time Management: showing that you can plan and schedule effectively; set, manage, and prioritise goals to meet deadlines. Companies need employers that can efficiently deal with daily tasks to develop in the long run.
A. Verbal Communication
- Public Speaking: the capability to speak and present confidently within or beyond your team. Employers will look for candidates who can convincingly present themselves and their ideas.
- Negotiation: to influence and be persuasive during discussions. Companies want a workforce that can push their agenda and solve misunderstandings within.
- Storytelling: is the ability to create an impression and present direct and engaging information. People respond and remember the stories better. Therefore, for a company's message to stick, one needs storytellers. This skill can also apply in written communication.
B. Written Communication
- Creative Writing: to write clearly, imaginatively, and engagingly. Employers today need creative minds, and writing this way will stand you out among the candidates.
- Business Writing: to write professionally, precisely, and purposefully. Businesses need professionals who can communicate in a suitable way to convey the information well.
- Email Etiquette: this goes hand-in-hand with business writing and entails formal and semi-formal ways of starting and closing emails. A simple email error can make you seem unprofessional and incompetent, so your employers want to know they can trust your ability to write emails correctly.
- Critical Thinking: the ability to analyse, evaluate and draw conclusions through a critical lens. It is a crucial skill that employees look for, the ability to interpret and look at topics differently and challenge normativity in a marketplace that greatly needs creative minds.
- Creativity & Innovation: being able to think open-mindedly and imaginatively and not scared of taking risks. In a competitive market, companies need minds that can provide innovative solutions to keep up with trends and stand out.
- Resourcefulness: having insights and knowledge and the willingness to learn and develop. The only way to keep up with today's world is to constantly develop yourself and the company, as employers always look for resourceful staff.
- Decision Making: being rational and assertive when making decisions is a valuable skill to acquire since companies can only develop their ideas by having intuitive decision-makers take steps toward the goals.
- Conflict Resolution: the ability to find solutions acceptable for all parties. Employers need candidates that can effectively deal with conflicts within and outside the team.
- Reliability: the ability to set an example for others to meet deadlines, have attention to detail, achieve goals, and be there as a helping hand. Companies need a workforce they can depend on, so you should showcase yourself as a reliable asset.
Actionable Tips to Acquire Soft Skills
- Gain teamwork skills by actively seeking out opportunities for collaboration
We have all experienced the frustration of working on some group assignments. It can be because of our differing interests, distinct work ethic, flow, or a likely miscommunication. Yet, participating in group projects is essential for understanding how to go about these differences. If you wish to brush up on your teamwork skills, there are other proactive ways to search for team experiences besides schoolwork. Find volunteering opportunities where you can work with various teams - maybe there's an exciting festival coming up in your area? When you can, suggest engaging in team-building exercises - these are usually fun activities and help break the ice to get to know each other better. The more connected you feel with your team, the more enjoyable and fulfilling it gets to work with them! Finally, to avoid miscommunication, you need to practise active listening.
- Practise active listening in everyday conversations
You'd be surprised by how much practice and attention it needs to really listen to someone. Today, when we're constantly overwhelmed by information and our everyday tasks, we sometimes neglect what the other person is telling us. However, it is crucial to learn active listening as the only way you can succeed in the workforce is by listening to your team, competitors, or collaborators. A simple way to practise this is to pay attention to how you listen to your friend or family members during everyday conversations. Focus on what the other person is saying without interrupting or jumping to conclusions. If it helps, ask and be open to feedback from them! They might know better if they feel heard and can give you some tips.
- Become more empathetic by considering others' perspectives
Emotions are hardly off the table at work. Empathy is one of the ways we connect with others and can make us likeable and trustworthy employees. I know you've heard this saying before, and maybe you even roll your eyes when you read this, but you must put yourself in other people's shoes. Try to practise this with people who you don't directly relate to - maybe they're in a different phase of life or come from a completely distinct culture than yours. Looking outside your bubble and trying to talk to diverse people can feel rewarding and positively influence your empathy skills.
- Gain more self-awareness through various tests and analysis
You might think you know yourself the best, and that is true. However, you constantly grow and develop, and you might forget to reflect on what kind of person you're becoming. Being self-aware is the key to reaching your full potential, which you can do in various fun ways! You may have heard of SWOT analysis for businesses. But what if you can adapt to assessing yourself with it? There are also some enjoyable and insightful tests, such as the 16 Personalities Test or Character Strengths Survey, which can help you understand your strengths, weaknesses, personality, and character traits through which you can reflect on yourself. Journaling and practising mindfulness are two tried and tested practices to understand yourself.
- Work on getting motivation through effective goal setting
Procrastination is our ever-present frenemy, so it's really important to find ways to keep ourselves motivated. Motivation doesn't come out of the blue: the muse won't magically visit you, and your energy levels will only decrease when you overstay your welcome on the couch. Goal setting can help you in many aspects of life, and getting motivation can be one of them. It's essential to know how to correctly set realistic goals that will motivate you to start working on them. Set small, manageable goals that you can achieve in a short period of time to feel rewarded and slowly reach bigger ones. As a bonus tip, reflecting can help you with motivation too. Maybe it's journaling or practising gratitude by writing down or loudly voicing the things you're grateful for in your life. Just 5-10 minutes of reflection can boost your energy for the rest of the day.
- Learn to self-regulate by managing your emotions with techniques
We've established that emotions will always be at play at work. They can positively affect your tasks and communication. However, some intense emotions may arise that can become counterproductive, which is when your self-regulation skills come in handy. You can acquire this skill by learning techniques to manage stress and other negative emotions that hinder your ability to think clearly. There are many stress management practices you can try out. Through trial and error, you can find your optimal technique. These can be simple and quick things like 4-7-8 breathing exercises, listening to your favourite song, or walking. The main thing is not to judge yourself and know that the solution will only arise with a calm mind.
- Practise flexibility by opening up to changes in your life
With a dynamic and fast-changing world comes the necessity to be flexible with these changes. Not everyone can be naturally prone to adapt to changes well. Yet, this doesn't mean you cannot perfect your skills to become more flexible. You can practise flexibility by changing your routine or even moving around some furniture at home. If you want to take a long leap in making a change, perhaps, you've been thinking of studying abroad! This experience will teach you a lot about how to be flexible. Of course, dramatic changes are not necessary. The main thing is to be open to new ideas, be receptive and continuously learn new approaches to life.
- Become resilient with the help of your surroundings
We all need people, and that certainly doesn't make you weak. One way to develop resilience is by building a great support system. Mere emotional support can go a long way to not feeling discouraged if you've experienced setbacks in life or at work. Most importantly, you have to adopt a positive mindset to see failures as opportunities for growth. Remind yourself of your values and goals; when it gets hard to do it yourself, reach out to your friends and family who know you best!
- Master managing your time by prioritising and trying various tools
Time management is a fundamental soft skill any working professional has to master. Thankfully, there are many techniques and planning tools to optimise your workflow without burnout. Before you dive into time allocation, you need to set clear priorities and assess the difficulty of each assignment. Then, break down each task into manageable steps and follow accordingly. Tools such as Trello can help you visualise all your projects easily through separate cards for which you can create checklists. After you complete each step, you'll be able to get that rewarding feeling of striking through the completed task by striking through! As humans, we can only focus for a certain amount of time to work efficiently, so make sure to include buffer times in your schedule to accommodate rest!
- Become confident in public speaking by joining groups or filming yourself
Some people are born to speak at Ted Talks. But that doesn't mean you can't learn public speaking. For many, public speaking remains one of the scariest skills to gain. There are two ways you can go about it. You can join public speaking groups and clubs to get comfortable speaking in front of others. Even though it may feel out of your comfort zone, these groups can give you valuable tips and constructive feedback, which can help you exude confidence at workplace presentations. However, if this is off the table for you and you prefer to practise alone, making videos can become your friend. Film yourself while you're giving your speech, and when you rewatch, pay attention to your body language and tone of voice. Importantly, whichever option you choose, always ensure you are well prepared, know your topic by heart, and practice, practice, practice!
- Gain negotiation skills while interacting with people
Everyday interactions can prepare you for your work life in many ways. You can gain negotiation skills by simply trying different tactics when making decisions with friends. Maybe everyone wants to grab food at distinct places and you cannot reach a consensus. Try negotiating through active listening, communicating your needs clearly, and being empathetic to understand all sides. If everyday interactions are not enough, you can always take courses to gain more professional experience through courses from your university or other extracurricular opportunities. You can flaunt your certificate of completion afterwards!
- Become a great storyteller with the help of tried and tested tricks
You don't need to be a gifted storyteller to become the Roald Dahl of stories. To send an effective and persuasive message, you first need to identify your audience and write or speak for them - What is the demographic? What are they like? What are their interests? Afterwards, you can outline the ethos-pathos-logos-kairos for your message. Ethos can be established by showing that you are a trustworthy and competent source for your audience. If they don't trust you, it will be hard to persuade them. Logos is the content itself, which has to be clear, reasonable, and appeal to your audience's logic. Make sure that your content is precise, logical and uses facts. Using pathos means creating an emotional connection - here's where your emotional side comes in! A message that evokes emotion in the audience tends to be more memorable. Finally, Kairos will help you send your message at the right time. You've heard the saying, in the right place at the right time. Finding the most opportune moment to share your message is vital, or all your work may go unnoticed.
Additionally, expose yourself to other good storytellers by reading and listening to them. Whether it be books, podcasts, or Ted Talks, this can be a fun way to become a great storyteller yourself.
- Polish your creative writing skills with storytelling and beyond
Creative writing requires you to be imaginative, but you don't need to be a writer from birth. Like any other skill, you can master creative writing by practising. The more you write, the better you become and it's essential to receive feedback. Join specific courses to get professional advice and share your work with your family and friends for their feedback. And remember, kill your darlings - don't stray away from the point, and delete the extra fluff even if you feel attached to it. The complex sentences that are not necessary hinder readers' attention and focus.
- Learn business writing through practice and tools
Business writing is more technical, and many tricks from creative writing apply here too. To write professionally for reports or proposals, you need to identify your audience and the purpose of the piece of text. Then, make sure to state the goal of the message clearly and concisely. The emotions move to the background, and the prime aspects are the facts, logic, and the clear structure. You must organise your text effectively and avoid grammar mistakes or errors. Employ tools such as Grammarly to check these mistakes and the flow of the text. Utilise professional fonts and sizes - nobody will take your text seriously in Comic Sans or Courier New, let alone a font their computers can't even read. As a bonus tip, always employ active instead of passive voice. It makes the text more concise and easier to read.
- Become a pro on email etiquette through easy guidelines
Mastering email etiquette is a must when you enter work life. You start getting oriented with it at your university, where you can begin perfecting your email etiquette skills. Research the guidelines to communicate with professors and learn from them. Communication guidelines vary, so do identify who you're communicating with. How you write to a client may differ from that of your co-worker. Employ formal and semi-formal tactics accordingly. You can get a sense of it while exchanging emails by understanding the tone of voice in their responses.
- Improve your Critical Thinking by questioning taken-for-granted knowledge
Since, nowadays, everyone can share any information they have on the internet, it is useful to employ critical thinking when understanding an issue. Critical thinking will also help you look at a problem at work from different angles to find various solutions. One way to improve this skill is by challenging yourself to question taken-for-granted assumptions and consider multiple perspectives on a given issue. Specifically, you can start a conversation with people that have beliefs opposite to yours and try to listen to them actively. You can additionally research opposing viewpoints on a topic you feel strongly about, as it will help you think critically to understand the opposing side and strengthen or perhaps even change your beliefs.
- Embrace creativity and innovation by feeding off already existing ideas
Creativity and innovation go hand-in-hand and pop up now and then when businesses speak about their values. You can contribute to these values in several ways. Stay up-to-date on recent developments to find inspiration. Many inspirational leaders are known for their creative and innovative ideas; their talks may give you some ideas. Seek out opportunities to be creative in your work or hobbies. If you believe your hands are tied when it comes to your work to be creative, tap into some hobbies that free your mind and help you de-stress. It doesn't have to be painting, though you can still try it out even if you don't think you can be good at it. Some activities you could try your hand at are cooking, gardening, colouring books, or building puzzles.
- Learn to be resourceful through constant learning
We all wish to be resourceful for our companies, which is possible through constant learning. Commit to continuous learning by seeking new knowledge and skills - regularly research your industry trends and practices, and look at what your competitors are doing right or wrong. However, you can also look beyond your industry to adopt some trends in yours. The fact that you work in arts, for instance, does not mean that you cannot get some valuable resources from the tech world and vice versa.
- Practise making decisions by weighing the pros and cons of different options
Effective decision-making is a soft skill you can practise every day by considering the potential outcomes of each decision. It's crucial to plan and give yourself time to think instead of making a rash decision. Be confident and assertive after weighing the pros and cons but also listen to your peers and their perspectives. Getting a second opinion is vital but doesn't mean it has to change your decision - if anything, it might strengthen your view more. To gain more professional practice, take on leadership roles in clubs or organisations. There are multiple opportunities to be a part of the Board or a Committee Manager at universities.
- Develop your conflict resolution skills through specific techniques and training
You have to tap into your rational and emotional sides to resolve conflicts. You should understand and detect all aspects by using your interpersonal skills and listening actively. When there are multiple sides, it's vital to make each party understand what the other one is trying to communicate. Afterwards, there are numerous techniques to employ to resolve the issue. It can be collaboration - when everyone tries to find the optimal solution for each party. This could be an ideal option, however, it might not always work. At such times, you can adopt compromise - here, all parties give up something to find a middle ground satisfactory for everyone involved. Try to never let yourself or the people involved in the conflict avoid it, as it will result in more problems later on at work.
- Become a reliable asset by being one for yourself and the people around you
To be a reliable person in others' lives, you have to rely on yourself first. You have to believe in yourself, that you can meet the goals you have set for yourself, and that you can deliver whatever you put your mind to. For this, it's crucial to have discipline. Remember, motivation doesn't come out of the blue to finish a task. You must discipline yourself to follow through by reminding yourself of your values while keeping your steps in check by planning. Once you prove that you can rely on yourself, you can become exemplary for others by meeting deadlines and being there as a resourceful hand when faced with challenges.
To optimise your resume, adding top soft skills has become one of the crucial components. You can showcase your acquired soft skills through your experiences, whether group projects at universities, extracurriculars, or certificates and other qualifications. Employers love creative and flexible minds with interpersonal skills that can fit right into their workplace culture and contribute to innovative achievements. You can develop these skills with every experience and daily interaction if you're mindful of it and actively try to learn.
Which soft skill would you like to acquire?
Try the above tips and let us know the results in the comments!