Adding Soft Skills to Your Tech Résumé is Key to Success

If you’ve ever written a résumé, you know it’s vitally important to list your technical skills—and to make sure those skills align with what’s presented in the original job description. But what about so-called “soft skills” such as empathy and communication? Should you list those, and, if so, which ones?

Make no mistake: Companies value soft skills more than ever. Managers and executives everywhere are placing greater emphasis on communication and teamwork, since those are exactly the kinds of things that can mean the difference between an initiative succeeding or failing. If you’ve ever worked on an inter-department project, you know the consequences of teams failing to effectively collaborate

Mastering your soft skills can also prove beneficial to your career; everything from conscientiousness to effective listening will not only allow you to mesh better with your team, but make you stand out to senior management as someone who can effectively adapt to increasing responsibilities. While it’s not impossible to ascend the ladder to management without soft skills—some people manage to rise solely on the strength of their technical abilities, or the strength of their personal network—it’s a lot more difficult.

With all that in mind, let’s turn to résumés. What’s the best way to integrate your soft skills? Focus on the bullet-points in which you discuss your accomplishments in a particular role; it’s easy to give many of these a “soft skills” angle. For example:

  • Successfully coordinated with multiple stakeholders to launch our iOS app on-time and on budget, taking all teams’ concerns into account.

Or:

  • Mentored my team to reduce turnover by 25 percent and increase our speed of deliverables by 50 percent within a year.

If you’re revamping your current résumé, you can rewrite your existing bullet-points to include more of a soft-skills angle without altering anything about your technical skills or the value you brought to your previous companies.

If you have room, you can also include a separate “soft skills” breakout into your résumé’s skills section. But which skills should you list? Any that the job posting calls out, although make sure you’ve mastered any that you actually list (for example, if you’ve never successfully mentored anyone, don’t include it on your résumé, even if the job posting asks for it; you never know when a hiring manager or recruiter might ask you about it).

According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, here are some of the most popular soft skills to pop up in postings over the past 90 days. If the company’s job posting doesn’t give you any guidance over which ones to potentially include in your résumé, consider adding some of these:

Yes, technical skills are always valuable—but in a crowded job market where you need to stand out from dozens or even hundreds of other applicants, successfully showing that you’ve mastered soft skills can prove the critical differentiator in whether you land the job or not.