Why You Need to Include Soft Skills on Your Resume

Job SearchPersonal Branding

International Talent Management Strategist Dorothy Dalton recently wrote a compelling blog post: “The Hard Truth About Soft Skills,” which absolutely nails the value of soft skills in a career story resume.

Dalton describes how resumes that come to her attention often do so based on the “high incidence of hard skills in the text,” but goes on to assert that “… unless the resume or professional profile tells an engaging account, the chances of the phone being picked up are slim.”

She continues to describe how articulating your success stories verbally is crucial to being able to continue through the hiring process, underscoring that “it is therefore imperative to bring clarity and show coherence around your career story as early as possible.”

Don’t let your resume be ambushed by less important details

So many resume writing blog posts focus on things like the demise of the Objective statement, formatting dos and don’ts, differences between the resume and your LinkedIn profile, whether or not to use color, charts or graphs and so on.

The problem with these types of messages is that careerists get mired in those details to the extent it ambushes their thinking from the most foundational issue: how and why they do what they do and why that matters to the target company. This relates to the what’s-in-it-for-me message that hiring decision-makers seek, but it goes even deeper. It requires a yawning reach into your career story, examining chapter-by-chapter things like your relationships with and influence toward bosses, clients, vendors and all other stakeholders.

Beware the ineffectiveness of random soft skills

These soft skills often are omitted or, if included, thrown in randomly and ineffectively, resulting in an incoherent story.

Incorporating soft skills articulately means describing how you helped tame heated meetings and how your ability to communicate orally or in writing helped forge alliances, influence solidarity and/or move projects so they steamed ahead and achieved bottom-line goals.

In fact, your soft skills probably were most heavily relied upon when you first started your job. For each new position, you’ve either taken over after someone voluntarily left or was fired and therefore replaced an employee who was succeeding or who had failed. Perhaps even, you were recruited to pave the way for a new position. Whatever the case, you faced challenges to repair brokenness, expand on success, open new marketplace roadways – and so on.

Soft skills drive hard results

The common thread is that, unless you are a robot, you didn’t just bulldoze your way in and mechanically drive results. Instead, you began by applying softer skills in order to achieve more concrete outcomes. Those softer skills encompassed:

  • Analysis—assessing current situations
  • Collaboration—working to understand teammates’ or employees’ frustrations, areas of satisfaction and fears so you could more meaningfully contribute
  • Composure—proving that you are composed, despite an unfamiliar, new environment often wrought with jealous, distrusting employees who may see you as a threat
  • Listening—showing, through responsive action that you heard and worked to understand what was requested; and the list goes on

Bottom line: Peppering your resume with metrics and outcomes is great, but not at the sacrifice of the softer skills and initiatives that deftly pull the threads together to achieve those hard-hitting outcomes. It’s as much about the back-story, replete with the how and why you performed the way you did and the intricate relationship weaving, influencing, analyzing, listening, innovating, change driving, negotiating and global communications, as it is about the result.

Differentiate yourself by doing the “Hard Yards”

Why careerists do not prepare their story this way is multifold, but probably the primary reason is “lack of self-insights.” Says Dalton: “They simply don’t do the hard yards and take the time to look into their own careers. It’s a lot of work and probably the most significant career management exercise anyone will do. Ever.”

However, people who get it and are willing to delve into introspection needed to write an effective resume story generally out-compete others in the market.


Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. An intuitive researcher, she helps professionals unearth compelling career story details to help best present their unique experience, skillset and interests in resumes and other career positioning documents as well as through social media profiles. In addition to being interviewed for television and radio stories, Jacqui has written for the Career Management Alliance Connection monthly newsletter and blog, ExecuNet’s Career Smart Advisor, The Kansas City Star, The Business Journal and The Wall Street Journal. In addition, she and her husband, “Sailor Rob,” host a lively careers-focused blog over at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui also is a power Twitter user listed on several “Best People to Follow” lists for job seekers.