Last year, the professional networking site LinkedIn surveyed almost 300 employers to ask them what were their priorities when it comes to soft skills. Soft skills aren't the same as technical skills, which will vary from role to role. Rather, they are the core skills which every employee really needs to have in order to become the number one choice for a role.
The top five skills were:
If these soft skills are so important to get hired, then you need to demonstrate them on your CV. How? Read on!
I am a great communicator. I’m highly organised and I love working as part of a team. Never late, I thrive when given the chance to think critically.
Well, no. Not like that. It’s about as subtle as a brick through a window, and these sentences are packed full of clichés. Try and avoid those, because someone who reads a lot of CV’s will just skate over those sentences. They’ve seen them so many times before. If you want your CV to get attention, you need to say things in a different way.
The best way to make a point while avoiding these familiar phrases is to find examples from your career. Include them in your bullet points or blurb about each role – tell a story, don’t just cram in the key phrases.
Communication – Your CV is all about communicating what you want the employer to know about you. Make sure that your CV is well presented; there should be no spelling or grammatical errors. Useful information should be easy to find. The trend now is towards pared down, uncluttered CV’s that say only what needs to be said. To highlight communication in your career, choose an example where you’ve had contact with others.
E.g. Liaised with clients to discuss requirements and create a specification to work from.
Organisation – These skills include both personal and professional organisation. These are transferable skills; if you’re organised in one element of your life you’re likely to be organised in the others. Think of times when you have managed data, created and maintained standards, timetabled, or analysed. Make sure those appear on your CV.
E.g. Chairman of redevelopment of the local village hall; responsible for managing consultation with residents.
Teamwork – Ever played team sports? That’s a great example of how you can show you have these skills. Do you have a funny story from a team-building event? As well as talking about your work as part of, or leading, a team at work (please avoid the over-used phrase ‘team player’) you can also consider things like – being part of a group of fundraisers, or helping on a committee in your community.
E.g. Key member of the project team. Discussed user requirements and documented those for developers.
Punctuality – Firstly, make sure that your application makes it in comfortably for the deadline for the job. Finding a way to fit punctuality into a bullet point on your CV is more of a challenge than the others on this list, but you can include it in your personal attributes if you have space for those. Talking about hitting deadlines? That’s a great way to kill two birds with one stone; it shows organisation too!
E.g. Clients have praised me for always getting work to them ahead of a deadline.
Critical Thinking – You need to use this skill, to include it on your CV. Think back over your past experience for times when you have had to think critically. Use words like ‘analysis’, ‘problem-solving’ and ‘interpretation’.
E.g. Made changes to architectural drawings, including cascading these down through any other related pieces.
Although the job of your CV is to get the facts that you want in front of the person who makes the decision, you don’t want them to feel like you are ramming things down their throat. That’s why telling a story is a better way of communicating that using a bullet-pointed list. Rather than use the buzz-words, imply them.
You've probably come across the advice ‘show, don’t tell’ so many times – but that’s because it works. The impressions which stay with a reader are the ones they’ve formed themselves, not the things they’ve been presented with as facts.
In a competitive job market, you need to use every advantage to get ahead of the pack. Revamp your CV with these ideas in mind and you should do just that.
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