Whether you’re trying to advance your career or looking to start a new one, you want to make sure you’re the best candidate for the job. That’s why it’s important to know what hiring managers are looking for and what skills you should be working toward.
Hiring managers typically look for candidates that have both specific hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills are the skills you gain through education, certifications, training programs, and on-the-job experience. These are the skills that are easily defined and evaluated. They are directly relevant to the job to which you are applying.
The hard skills required will vary depending on the job. For instance, a hard skill for a carpenter would be knowledge of wood framing, while a hard skill for a designer would instead be something like Photoshop proficiency.
However, these aren’t the only skills that a hiring manager might be looking for. They’re also often interested in soft skills.
Soft skills are interpersonal skills, or in other words, “people” skills. And although they are more difficult to define and evaluate, they’re incredibly important.
These are the non-technical and more intangible abilities that are necessary to be successful in the workplace. These skills characterize how a person interacts in relationships with others.
Soft skills include communication, listening, work ethic, teamwork, networking, decision making, time management, motivation, critical thinking, adaptability, attitude, flexibility, and conflict resolution.
You can see why employers want job candidates with particular hard skills. After all, you wouldn’t hire a carpenter with no carpentry skills.
However, soft skills are still very important to an employee’s success. Nearly every job requires employees to engage with others in some way — be it with other employees, superiors, or even customers.
Being able to interact well with others is important for just about any job out there.
How exactly do you bring attention to your soft skills if there are no certifications or degrees?
Think about which soft skills you possess that are relevant and most useful in the job you are applying for.
Make a list of three to five relevant soft skills and add them into your resume. Try adding a “Transferable Skills” section, or perhaps mention your soft skills in your cover letter.
You can also highlight your soft skills in your job interviews. Mention examples of times you have displayed these skills at past jobs. But more importantly, demonstrate your soft skills during the interview by being friendly and approachable and by paying attention while the interviewer is talking.