Soft skills

Part of selling yourself on your CV includes mentioning your skills. Most people tend to include skills that they have picked up as part of their work experience. For example, finance professional usually mention numeracy skills, expertise in budgets, P&L, forecasts etc., and IT professionals tend to mention skills in particular programs or technical areas/methodologies.
This is all well and good, but what many people tend to forget is that employers also look for (and appreciate) “soft skills”, i.e. personal traits and competencies that are innate to you. Such skills are frequently less tangible and harder to quantify than their “hard skill” counterparts. Even so, it does not make them unimportant – on the contrary in fact.
One reason why employers look for soft skills is that many jobs are not one-dimensional – just requiring technical skills, or numerical expertise; on the contrary, many jobs also require other skill sets if the candidate is to do the job well.
For example, if you are applying for a job as an IT programmer then of course you need technical ability, including in-depth knowledge across at least one program or language (for example Java,.net, c# etc.), as well as the ability to write clear and efficient code to standards, preferred methodologies and best practices. To do this will you need to have acquired technical knowledge, and most programmers have certification to back up their claims of expertise. In addition to this, it is even sometimes possible for programmers to physically show employers examples of their work – to demonstrate just how good they are. For example, it is not uncommon for web designers to give employers links to some of their websites to check out.
However, in addition to these essential hard skills, even highly technical jobs sometimes need non-technical traits and competencies. For example, web developers frequently need to capture requirements from users (using social skills and communication ability), and they frequently need to make their applications look slick and professional, so they need creative ability, as well as an eye for presentation.
The above is just one example of soft skills relevant to one particular job. Pretty much every single job out there also requires soft skills, although these vary from job to job.

When you write your CV you need to consider the employer, and what he/she is looking for. In this respect, both hard and soft skills should come into the equation.

Paul Hichens (182 Posts)

Paul Hichens, top UK CV specialist, head of leading firm CV Succeed, and author of the most pioneering CV book in decades, The One Page CV (published by top career sector publishers Pearson Education).


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1 Comment

  1. George

    You’ve hit the nail right on the head!

    I am an IT professional that I have had loads of rejections for jobs lately, which puzzled me because my CV is crammed full of IT skills (I’ve experience across lots of different programs/applications and from legacy systems right up to latest versions of .net etc)

    However, looking at my CV, I have completely overlooked soft skills. It looks obvious in retrospect, but at least it sounds like I am not the only person to fall into this trap.

    I predict a long night revising my CV ahead!



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