Soft Skills on CV: A Complete Guide, with Tips

Soft Skills on CV: A Complete Guide, with Tips

Your soft skills can have a big impact on your chances of success in the jobs market. These personal qualities show employers how you’ll fit into their team and interact with customers and colleagues. Showcasing your soft skills effectively on your CV is crucial for your job applications. In this article, we discuss the top soft skills for your CV and how to present them to maximise your chances of success.

Soft Skills: What are they?

Soft skills are personal strengths and attributes that define you as a colleague and employee. They play an important role in the way you fit into a team and company culture. They can also give clues to employers about your suitability for a position.

It might be tempting to focus on hard skills on your CV. These are the technical qualities and skills required to do a job, such as the ability to use certain equipment, or knowledge of a specific industry sector. But hard skills can only take you so far. Soft skills can often make the difference when it comes to a crowded, and equally well-qualified, field of applicants. Your soft skills can complement your hard skills on your CV. They show hiring managers how you might apply your technical knowledge and experience to maximum effect in the workplace. As such, they play a crucial role in your job applications.

Why Soft Skills Matter on a CV

Listing your soft skills on your CV can give employers an indication of your personal strengths and working style. This can help them to understand how well you’ll fit the role, the team and the organisation.

Studies indicate that 91% of recruiters and talent professionals believe soft skills are very important to the future of recruiting (1). Another study suggests that 97% of employers believe that soft skills are at least as important, or more important, than hard skills (2). In the fast-moving and ever-changing world of work, people can develop the hard skills they need at any particular time, but soft skills are far harder to learn.

Soft skills can help you to succeed in any job, from an entry-level role to a position in senior management. However, the skills required to thrive in any position may differ somewhat. For example, leadership skills, communication and problem-solving skills might be more valuable for success in a management role. On the other hand, work ethic, ability to learn and time management might be more valued in junior roles. There are also plenty of transferable skills that are critical for success, whatever your level of seniority and experience. As such, it’s essential to make sure your CV includes reference to your soft skills.

When you’re writing your CV, consult the job advert to see which soft skills the hiring company is looking for. They may list several essential or desirable soft skills in the job description. If these match your strengths and qualities, mention them on your CV. Think about skills you have that can differentiate you from other candidates. It’s also important to be confident that you can back up your soft skills claims if asked about them during an interview. Make sure you have some examples to draw upon that show how you’ve used your soft skills in the workplace.

Expert Tip:

Use your whole CV to showcase your soft skills. You can reference soft skills in your CV objective, your work experience section and even other sections such as voluntary work or education. Every section of your CV and cover letter is a chance to show how you’ve put your soft skills to use in your career to date.

Top Soft Skills Any Employer Looks For

Although job descriptions tend to list several soft skills the employer is looking for, there are also various soft skills that are desirable for almost any position. Here are some of the most in-demand soft skills that employers look for:

  • Leadership: Particularly relevant for management and senior positions, the ability to organise and lead a team is a highly desirable trait.
  • Communication: Both verbal and written communication are important for employers. The significance of either may depend on the industry sector and level of seniority.
  • Problem-solving: Analytical thinking, the ability to solve problems and resolve conflicts are all valuable skills, whatever the role.
  • Teamwork: Most roles require employees to work with colleagues or collaborate with other people. Employers will seek people who work well with other people.
  • Emotional intelligence: The ability to understand, manage and use both your emotions and those of others can be highly valuable in the workplace.
  • Adaptability: Flexibility and adaptability show hiring managers that you can respond to the usual shifting demands and expectations of the workplace.
  • Time management: The ability to manage your time and workload can help convince employers that you’re an organised and responsible employee.
  • Interpersonal skills: Combining elements of communication and teamwork, interpersonal skills show you can form strong and positive relationships with colleagues and customers.
  • Work ethic: One of the basic requirements for most roles is a strong work ethic.
‘97% of employers believe that soft skills are at least as important, or more important, than hard skills’

Identifying the Right Soft Skills to Put on Your CV

Choosing the soft skills to put on your CV will depend on the role you’re applying for. Some soft skills are universal, but others are specific to certain jobs and industries. Job adverts usually provide a detailed job description with examples of key skills, both hard and soft, that employers are seeking. Think about any skills listed that you possess, that you could talk about during an interview. Employers are likely to ask for examples of using your skills positively in the workplace, so make sure you’re confident providing evidence of this.

Here are some different types of role and industry, and the soft skills you might want to add to your CV:

Managerial positions:

  • Leadership
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Decision-making
  • Negotiation
  • Problem-solving

Software development and engineering:

  • Analytical skills
  • Creativity
  • Teamwork
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Problem-solving

Marketing roles:

  • Creativity
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork
  • Innovation
  • Multitasking

Sales:

  • Communication
  • Self-confidence
  • Negotiation
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Organisation

Human resources: 

  • Problem-solving
  • Conflict resolution
  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Teamwork

Accounting:

  • Attention to detail
  • Organisation
  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Accuracy

Healthcare:

  • Teamwork
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Multitasking
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Positive mindset

Education:

  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Self-motivation
  • Critical thinking

Business analytics and consulting:

  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving
  • Analytical mindset
  • Strategic thinking
  • Interpersonal skills

Customer service:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Listening skills
  • Self-confidence
  • Communication

How to Effectively Showcase Soft Skills on a CV

Most CVs include a skills section, so this provides an opportunity to list your soft skills. You could separate your hard and soft skills, or create a single list. When listing your skills, try not to mirror the exact wording used in the job description, and provide a little more detail if possible. For example, instead of simply writing ‘communication’, you could use ‘written and verbal communication’ or ‘communication and public speaking’.

Aside from your CV’s skills section, you can prove your skills elsewhere in the document. The most common places to highlight your skills are your CV objective or summary, and your work experience section. Pick one or two key soft skills and work them into your CV summary. This helps the employer to understand which skills you feel are your biggest strengths. In your work experience section, under each job entry, reference how you used your skills to ensure success in the role.

For tips on how to structure your CV, see Jobseeker’s CV examples. An eye-catching CV design can also help your soft skills to shine. Take a look at Jobseeker’s CV templates for help making your CV stand out from the crowd.

Your cover letter provides further opportunity to showcase your skills and provide evidence of the impact they’ve had on your achievements. Focus on a maximum of one or two soft skills, and explain how you’ve put them to use in successful roles and projects. Your cover letter gives you the chance to elaborate on the details in your CV, so choose soft skills that you feel best summarise your qualities. Jobseeker provides a wealth of tools to help you write a strong cover letter, including various cover letter examples.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Including Soft Skills on a CV

Follow this advice to avoid making common mistakes with the soft skills on your CV:

  1. Focusing on yourself, not the job: You might have a list of your strongest skills, but if these don’t match the job requirements, they won’t make an impact with employers. Consult the job description and make sure you only include skills that match what the hiring company is looking for.
  2. Listing generic skills: Anyone can include a list of generic skills, such as ‘teamwork’, ‘communication’ and ‘work ethic’. Think of skills that make you a unique and compelling candidate, and describe your skills more thoroughly, adding bullet points or explanations if necessary.
  3. Exaggerating your skills: During an interview, hiring managers are likely to ask you about any soft skills you list on your CV. Make sure you only include skills you actually possess, and feel confident talking about.
  4. Only listing skills in the skills section: Use the whole of your CV and cover letter as a showcase of your skills. Make sure you provide examples of how you’ve used your skills, both in your work experience section and in your cover letter.

Key Takeaways for Adding Soft Skills to Your CV

Soft skills can play a significant role in your job prospects, so your CV should pay due care and attention to them. Consult the job description to understand the soft skills the employer is looking for, and reference these in your document. Make your list of skills personal to your strengths and experience. Showcase your soft skills throughout your CV, and use your cover letter to elaborate and focus on the soft skills you consider to be your best.

Jobseeker’s templates and examples can help you to create an application that showcases your skills and makes a positive impression with hiring managers. Sign up today to start the simple process and gain access to a wealth of CV templates, cover letter templates and other resources.

Sources:

1. LinkedIn Report: These 4 Ideas Are Shaping the Future of HR and Hiring

2. SHRM: Leaders and Employees Need Soft Skills Now More than Ever

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